200 Project Management That Works
Observation: When a question is asked in meetings, is the answer
a collaborative response, or does the team look to a specific
individual and wait for a response from him or her?
Outcome: The person that the team looks to is usually the one in
charge and again, is a High “D” personality or autocratic. If
there is healthy discussion about the question, then the team
is more of a collaborative team.
Observation: A more subtle observation is who will take the head
of the table in a meeting. Who is sitting on the right side of
the boss?
Outcome: This is more of a subtle observation, and there are
many variables such as was the head of the table the only seat
open, or were there others available? As a rule, the head of
the table is reserved for the sponsor or the senior manager. If
someone comes in early to the meeting and takes the head of
the table when other seats are available, that person usually is
aspiring for that position. The person who chooses to sit on
the right side of the senior manager is someone who has aspi-
rations of moving up the corporate ladder. This is not a rule
but a guideline.
Observation: Suggest a new technique in a team meeting to ac-
complish a common task. For example, ask to have the entire
team put together a network diagram to plan the project
schedule.
Outcome: Was the suggestion quickly met with, “We don’t do
that here,” or, “That won’t work here”? Did the team embrace
the idea? This observation can show the organization’s will-
ingness to embrace change.
There are many other observations that can be made. The key is to
make sure that there is an active effort to understand and observe the
culture.
What to Do When You Can’t Change or Affect Corporate
Culture
Of course, there are times when the PM is unable to change or affect
the corporate culture. He or she may have tried many different tech-

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