The Reflective Project Manager

Insight is the clear understanding of a complex situation. From the course, I developed three insights that represented important things that I learnt. These insights are personally important to me and they will help me in future as a project manager. These insights were the importance of psychic prison metaphor in project and organizational management, importance of imaginization in management and the importance of creating value to an organization. This essay describes what these insights were, why they were personally important to me and how I may act on them in future.

A tabular summary showing three insights from the course

From the course, I learnt the concept of psychic prison metaphor. This concept argues that human beings have a knack for being trapped in webs of their own creation. Since people’s ideas run and manage organizations, it is hard for them to find new ways of running the organization. This leads them to be prisoners of their own old ideas. Morgan described how this concept works by using an allegory known as The Republic, where people found themselves chained in a cave and they could not move or see what was outside their cave (Morgan, 1997). The reality of the people who were in the cave were the shadows in front of them and the sounds that they heard from outside. Thus, they ended up constructing the reality of the outside world based on what they experience inside the cave. If someone from outside world happened to come in the cave and tell the dwellers of the cave what the outside world was like, the dwellers would not believe and they would prefer sticking to what they think the outside world is like (Schabenland, 2006). Considering this concept, managers are able to understand why most workers find it hard to accept organizational change. It is important for workers to learn this concept since it would help them know of ways that they may be caught in a self-sealing work-place environment. Furthermore, some managers find it hard to change their leadership styles since they still trust their old styles even if they are not profitable.

The insight of organization as a psychic prison was important to me due to several reasons. By understanding this concept, I came to learn of ways that I may happen to find myself caught in the psychic prison. Furthermore, I learnt the importance of changing my personal beliefs if I find that they are not helping the organization achieve its goals and profitability. I also learnt the importance of trying to fit with the organization culture by changing my personal attitudes. Organization culture is important since it helps maintaining a good working environment in any organization (Cameron, 2006). From the concept of psychic prison, I came to learn why I might find it difficult to accept change in the organization that I work in. Most people in an organization do not accept change since they fear that they may lose power on the individual level. This is because most managers feel that when they accept change, they may end up giving their subordinates more power. Furthermore, workers may feel that organizational changes may end up threatening their job security. This is because after an organization undergoes transformation, some departments may be eliminated and thus causing lay-offs in the organization (Palmer, Dunford and Akin, 2008). In addition to this, workers may not be willing to undergo new forms of training in order to understand the organizational changes. Due to these factors, I came to learn why workers prefer to remain in their psychic prisons and fight for their old values and beliefs. Moreover, the concept of psychic prison helped me understand the importance of finding ways of achieving integration and balance in an organization. Integration and balance of employees and activities in an organization helps the employees work in their environment more efficiently and communicate more effectively and thus they share their own ideas more freely. Due to this, a worker would not be trapped in his own ideas and imaginations that may create conflict and disagreements in the organization.

In future, I might act on the insight of organization as a psychic prison in several ways. I may use ideas generated by the brain to increase the understanding of how to co-ordinate activities in an organization and not stick to old ideas that the brain generated before. Furthermore, this insight would help me understand the need of changing from the rationality of bureaucracy, a concept that most organizations adopt in their management structure. This is because bureaucracy discourages innovation and creativity of workers and thus workers would stick to old production methods even though they cause the organization to suffer massive losses (Bilton, 2007). In addition to this, this management structure leads to dissatisfaction of employees and thus an organization may end up suffering high rates of employee turnover. I also learnt of ways of reducing the effect of organization as a psychic prison. In future, if I have an organization and I want to avoid employees being trapped in a web of their own ideas, I would first train them on benefits accepting change. Through the training, the employees would learn of ways of successfully accepting change. Furthermore, I would allow employees to give their own personal contributions on how to improve organization management. By contributing their own ideas, the employees would feel that the organization values them and thus they would not be trapped in their own psychic prison (Delbridge, Gratton and Johnson, 2006). From this insight, I came to learn on benefits of changing my ideas and welcoming organizational change. This is because new ideas on management may lead to cost savings in an organization. This is because new production methods that a worker may suggest may reduce wastages and shortages of production. Furthermore, it may improve corporate relationships due to the better relations with suppliers and customers. Due to this, the corporate image of the firm may improve thus boosting its sales and revenues.

From the course, I learnt the insight of imaginization in project management.  This concept allows managers to use creativity and critical thinking to find new ways of solving tasks facing them (Morgan, 1997). If a manager faces the problem of poor and ineffective communication between all his workers that leads to wastages in production process, he needs to find out the root cause of the problem. He needs to find out whether the noise that production machines produce causes the communication breakdown or whether poor selection of a communication channel causes it. This concept stresses on the importance of all employees creating a shared understanding for its success. It argues that if all the employees in an organization share a common understanding, then it is likely that the organization would have a sense of shared vision and values and thus the organization will be able to achieve all its goals and objectives (Owen, 2009). Furthermore, this insight concentrates on personal empowerment as one of its pillars for success. It acknowledges that when a person thinks that his role is being challenged by any factor, he may fail to find a way of responding to this challenge. Imagination helps people grasp new perspectives on the situation facing them and find new possibility for development. This insight also concentrates on developing capacities for continuous self-organization. By using this idea, a manager would be able to anticipate the challenges that may face a particular project and find ways of preparing himself for the challenges that may face him (Chong, 2010). Moreover, this insight concentrates on finding new images for new ways of organizing a project. It argues that although organization charts are an important tool in defining management, they are a limiting tool since they imply an organization is a structure that people can freely engineer and re-engineer for success of a particular project.

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The insight on the importance of imaginization to project management was important to me due to several reasons. From this insight, I came to learn on the importance of a manager using creativity in order to change his management styles. Most managers view employees as machines and thus they design wage systems based on piece rate compensation. A manager could use creativity in order to develop other models of compensation such as based on the quality of work or level of customer satisfaction (Cicmili, 2006). Through this, the quality of products that an organization produces would improve and at the same time improving employee satisfaction. Furthermore, imaginization stresses on the importance of observing the cultural differences of all employees in order to manage them successfully. If a manager concentrates on understanding the cultural diversity of all his employees, then he would manage them better since he would avoid doing things that are not in accordance to the beliefs or culture of a particular employee (Schwabenland, 2006). Furthermore, imaginization helped me identify new ways of designing an organization structure instead of concentrating on the traditional organization structures that encouraged bureaucracy. Through this insight, I learnt of the importance of managers involving employees in major management decisions. If he involves the employees in these decisions, employees would become more motivated since they would know that management values their personal views. The employee turnover would thus reduce and thus the organization would not incur additional costs on hiring and training new employees . This insight also stresses on the importance of a manager anticipating challenges that may face his project and looking for creative ways of finding solutions for these challenges. Due to this, I learnt of the importance of an organization b preparing itself for any uncertainties or risks that may face it. These risks include financial and operational risks.

In future, I may act on this insight in several ways. This insight would help me use creativity to solve organizational problems that may be facing me. For example, if sales in a project that I am managing continue dropping due to intense competition in the market that I may be operating in, I will use creativity to find new ways of shifting my target market to a group that other companies are not concentrating on. Furthermore, if my company incurs high supply chain costs, I may use creativity to try to reduce the supply chain network in order to cut down the distribution costs hence improving profitability. Furthermore, I would use this insight to encourage employee participation in critical tasks that my company engages in. Through employee participation, I would be able to increase democracy in the organization and thus improving employee retention and satisfaction (Palmer, Dunford and Akin, 2008). Furthermore, if I get assistance from my employees in formulating organization goals and plans, then the employees would be more comfortable in executing tasks that they formulated in the organizational plan. This insight would also help me anticipate challenges that may face the project that I manage. By anticipating the challenges and losses, I would be setting aside provisions that would cover these uncertainities thus avoiding huge financial losses.

From the course, I came to learn on the insight of organizations concentrating on the importance of creating value rather than concentrating on product creation. By concentrating on this insight, organizations would focus on the benefits a particular project brings to the organization. If an organization successfully adopts this concept, then it would consider concentrating on the satisfaction of all its customers and increasing the shareholders wealth by investing in viable projects (Cameron, 2006). According to research conducted by various scholars, this concept moves from the traditional perspective that customer’s offering is an output of the production process to the perspective that customer’s offering is an input in value creation of customer’s processes. Due to this fact, a company would be concentrating on looking at customer’s requirements and specification before producing any good or offering any service (Delbridge, Gratton and Johnson, 2006). This would help in reducing complaints from customers due to increased customer satisfaction. Value creation lies on the principle of concentrating on the benefit of a particular program rather than the product of the project. Furthermore, it concentrates on improving second level relationship between the company and its customers. When companies adopt this concept, they should consider understanding the context of a business first and use this concept as the guiding framework of developing a project. This concept also emphasizes on the importance of long-term profitability of a company rather than short-term profitability. This would also ensure that the organization maintains its going concern. Furthermore, value creation helps an organization attain maximum efficiency in its processes of production thus eliminating wastages and delays.

The insight on the importance of organizations concentrating on creating value was important to me due to several reasons. From this insight, I was able to know why companies such as DuPoint and Coca-Cola have succeeded in obtaining a large market share worldwide after adopting this insight. I also leant that it was not easy to incorporate value creation in an organization since in some situations it may fail to integrate well with the culture of an organization. It was also important to me since I came to learn that when management adopts this concept, it needs to  concentrate on budgeting its funds to avoid wastages, strategic planning in order to define future goals and performance measurement in order to identify departments in an organization that fail to achieve the set targets. I also learnt on the importance of training all the employees in an organization so that they become aware on the importance of creating value in an organization and how they could help in value creation. From this insight, I learnt of the benefits of an organization concentrating on its long-term profitability and thus it does everything in order to create value to the customer operations (Winter, Andersen, Elvin and Luvene, 2006). This insight was also important to me since I learnt the criteria that financial managers and project managers use to select projects that would help in creating value to an organization. I learnt that managers have to determine first how much money to invest in a particular project. The managers then calculate the returns that they earn from that project and determine whether they are sufficient to cover the risks. If the returns are not sufficient to cover risks, then the investment opportunity is not creating value to the organization or customers and thus the managers should consider abandoning the project (Holman and Thorpe, 2002). Furthermore, this insight was important to me since it gave me the urge of researching further on the process that a project manager should follow in order to implement value creation in his organization. I learnt that the project manager should first consider gaining commitment from the senior management about his proposal. He should then develop a customized value creation framework for the organization. Lastly, he should concentrate on ensuring that all employees accept value creation in their organization.

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In future, I might act on the insight of value creation in several ways. I would ensure all the projects that I manage concentrate on creating value to customers. I would achieve this by ensuring I follow customer specifications in all the projects that I engage in. Furthermore, I would ensure that I listen to customer’s complaints at all the times and change my production methods so that they correspond to what the consumers want (Palmer, Dunford and Akin, 2008). Furthermore, I would concentrate in carrying a market research first before I launch a new product in the market so that I include customer requirements in all my products thus creating value in the organization. Furthermore, this insight taught me on the importance of project appraisal before investing in any given project. In future, I would first calculate the long-term profitability of projects that my company proposes to invest. I would then consider the risks that I may face when I invest in that particular project and if the risks are more than the returns, I would advice my company to abandon the project. From this insight, I learnt on the importance of educating all the employees before introducing a concept of value creation if it was not present in an organization. In future, before I implement value creation in my organization, I would first train all my employees on the importance of accepting change in an organization. Furthermore, I would then advice them on how to easily incorporate value creation in their organization.

To conclude, from the course I learnt many things. I learnt on the benefits of concentrating on organization and political culture from the case study of Multicom and Media 2000. Furthermore, I came to learn how managers could use imaginization in order to manage an organization better. Furthermore, I learnt how the blueprint of London’s Olympic had included emerging trends in project management such as integrated business solutions, organizational change and delivery of long-term public services. From the course, I developed the insight on the importance of the concept of psychic prison, imaginizition and value creation. In future, I may use these insights to improve customer satisfaction in all the projects that I engage in, change management styles and implement organization change more effectively.

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