Why Unresolved Conflict is Bad for a Project

The apple has transformed into an orange.  The reason isn’t relevant, only the fact that conflict now lives and breathes within the project effort.  Let us be clear that conflict is not the same as a problem or challenge in a project effort.  Apple projects have problems and challenges all the time and they remain apple projects.  The transformation only occurs when two or more stakeholders disagree on some aspect of the project effort.  In order to resolve this conflict the project manager must get to the seed (reason) of what is causing the conflict, and each side involved can have a different seed bothering them.

Seeds are designed to grow.  They take in resources they need and mature into a full plant in their own right.  A seed growing in a project takes its resources either from the project itself or from the department in which it finds itself planted.  In either case there is an impact to the project itself.

If the seed is feeding itself off the resources of the project then the impact is mostly self evident.  The project is not going to be worked at top efficiency.  The goals of the project are not going to be reached at the projected rates, or the resources assigned to the project are going to be overworked.  The end result will be a project that misses deadlines, runs over budget, or causes other projects to begin to be affected.

If the seed is feeding itself from the resources found in the department where it has been planted the impact to the project is not as immediate but might be much more detrimental.  When a seed steals resources from another department that department is usually aware where their resources are going and why.  This causes that department to resent the project taking the resources.  In addition, if this condition persists the department can begin to take a negative view of the project manager who is perceived as being unable to manage their projects.  Additionally, if this becomes a major impact to that department because it continues for an extended duration, that affected department may become a detractor within the company of the full project management office and methodology.  So how do you deal with these seeds that grow in the garden of your project as choking weeds?

The next installment will discuss How to Successfully Weed the Garden.