Project Management Paper
There is one thing that is inevitable when organizations are pursuing success. Change is one aspect that can assure an organization success if it is handled effectively. The aspect of organizational change has seen organizations engage in several aspects that include organizational adaptation, strategic planning and the recent changes that have come up because of the decline of strategic planning. In the organizational set up, it is important to understand that making a change does not automatically mean that the organization is headed for success because different scenarios require different changes and the different ways of applying those changes. Organizational adaptation is one important aspect in managing change especially in project management (Nickerson & Silverman, 2009).
Companies start projects with certain goals and objectives. The function of project management is to ensure that the projects outlined by a given organization are taken to the end and that the goals and objectives are realized. However, during projects changes in the operational environment occur in terms of financial constraints, environmental calamities, human resource difficulties and changes in supplies among other issues. When these changes occur, organizations need to apply improvisation. Improvisation helps organizations create the necessary changes to ensure that the projects running progress in the best way possible so that the goals and objectives can be realized (Carley, 1997).
Improvisation is an aspect of organizational adaptation where an organization creates an environment where the required changes can be made or changes can be made to on-going projects to fit the organization’s situation. Organizational adaptation and improvisation have impacts to an organization. However, the success of organizational adaptation and improvisation heavily depend on the kind of adaptation or improvisation employed and the strategies employed to implement the improvisation and adaptation (Leybourne, 2006). It is important to state that before improvisation or adaptation is done, organizations must first carry out a feasibility and needs analysis to ensure what kinds of improvisation and adaptations are needed and the resources that will be needed to make them successful. Organizations that improvise their projects or adapt to changes strategically through project management become successful. On the other hand, companies that engage in improvisation or adaptation without proper strategies fail even after the changes because it becomes more costly and unbearable for them to handle the difficulties (Leybourne, 2009).
The concepts of organizational adaptation and improvisation as related to project management bring up the aspect of strategic planning and the question of its effectiveness. With the knowledge that environmental changes occur, both internally and externally, organizations used to plan for the need to conduct improvisation or organizational adaptation through strategic planning. Through strategic planning, organizations would identify methods, make decisions and set resources to be used to shape the future success of the organizations. However, the many changes that occur in the operational environment of organizations have rendered strategic planning ineffective, over time (Leybourne, 2006). Planning has become inefficient because the environment of operation has become rather unpredictable. With this unpredictability and the losses that organizations have realized even with strategic planning, organizations looked into other ways of managing environmental changes that are more effective than the traditional strategic planning is (Binder, 2007).
In addition to the ineffectiveness of strategic planning because of the unpredictable future, competitive advantage has also influenced the decline of strategic planning. Visionary organizations have realized that using strategic planning is costly, yet inefficient in managing change that occur in their operational environments and do not make them highly competitive. Therefore, the companies that fight to remain competitive have abandoned strategic planning and taken up other methods as a way of managing change (Bryson, 1988).
Several methods have replaced strategic planning. Scenario planning is one of the methods that have replaced strategic planning and works by helping organizations visualize and plan for changes by conceiving different futures by looking at known factors, such as PESTLE trends, political, social and economic trends, demographics and calamities. Here, organizations plan for different outcomes as opposed to strategic planning that looks into the future with a single perspective (Godet, 2000).
Another aspect that has replaced strategic planning is the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) (Ittner, Larcker & Meyer, 1997). This strategy presents a mix of monetary and non-monetary measures that are linked to specific targets that gives some light to the mission and vision of the organization by determining the most relevant information that the organization needs about its environment (Kaplan, 2008).
In addition to the given strategies, microeconomics has also replaced strategic planning as a strategic management principle. After the recessions that occurred between 1982-1983 and 1990-1991, academicians engaged in the search for new sources of managing organizational change and project planning and they identified microeconomics. The reasoning behind this move is that if competitive advantage was the ultimate goal of any strategy, then the economic structure of an organization provided a way through which the achievement of the objectives could be charted. Microeconomics strategy emphasizes on economic forces of the structure of the industry and the position of the organization in the industry (Kadocsa & Francsovics, 2011). This aspect also brings in the aspects of product lifecycle and customer demands fluctuations. Strategic management could not handle these two concepts effectively because customer needs change every other moment and do not respect plans made through strategic management. The goal of project management is to make the product lifecycle complete whether changes occur or not. Therefore, because strategic planning could not handle this, other methods were required forcing strategic planning to decline. Strategic planning only concentrated on a single view of the future failing to identify potential threat areas that were dangerous to the existence of organizations. Therefore, microeconomics strategic management came up in this view (Mahoney, 2006).
However, when looking at the methods that have replaced strategic planning, it is essential to state that there are certain limitations to them. First, methods, such as scenario planning, balance scorecard and microeconomics are expensive to organizations in terms of monetary costs, time and research. They require more research and a highly committed team for success. For instance, scenario planning focusses on more than one aspect of the future meaning that it requires a lot of concentration and accuracy. Secondly, these replacements have been created in response of the weaknesses of strategic planning. However, they fail to use the strengths of strategic planning making them miss important aspects. The new methods require larger teams for them to be successful. They are also subject to misinterpretations because the future cannot always be predicted using present information. Therefore, when recommending such methods, it is imperative to understand that they have weaknesses too.
The best solution when considering the best methods to use for organizational adaptation is not to wipe out strategic planning entirely. Organizations should combine the strengths of strategic planning with the new methods to be able to manage organizational changes effectively. Applying only a single method, whether new or not, will still be inadequate.