Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes… ~ Peter F. Drucker


I use the word “Compliance” vs. “Commitment.” I think commitment is still too weak of a term when you think about getting people to finance your project and actually do the work on your activities or work packages.

We need more than promises and hopes when managing projects in matrix organizations. We need more than commitment. We need compliance. We need doers not just commitment makers.

The biggest weakness I have observed in over 25 years of helping organizations deploy PM practices and enterprise project management systems is the idea that you can deploy without a good communication campaign plan and without a compliance strategy in place. You know, the idea of “build it and they will come.” Management may be committed, committed so much they fund the deployment, but it doesn’t mean they are going to be involved in the hard choices like getting a lot of people to do what they need to do to run something as challenging as an enterprise project management system, a system that actually provides accurate and reliable data against a reporting cycle.

Writing a check is a whole  lot easier than “hard management.” Deploying a PM enterprise system that provides measurable value is nothing less than hard management.

We are all familiar with interpersonal compliance gaining strategies. The 16 different ones we use to get someone to actually do something for us, such as Promise (do this for me and I promise…), or Threat (If you don’t…I will…), or Positive Other Enhancement (do this, and management is going to love you). You know, all of the ones we used when trying to get our kids to brush their teeth or do their homework. But we often don’t think we need to be that thoughtful when applying the idea of group compliance in an organization.

In the public sector we run communication campaigns to get people to parent better, get help for gambling, and register to vote, but those campaign are seldom effective because they are not typically joined with a compliance campaign. “Buckle Up…” only became effective in the United States when joined with a compliance gaining strategy ‘…Or get a ticket.” They are called the “Great Seatbelt Campaign Flops” because the US spent billions with little to no effectiveness. We all had our reasons for not buckling up. Then, state by state, the campaigns were crossed with a compliance gaining strategy, the threat of a ticket. I don’t know anyone who has ever got a ticket for not wearing a seat belt. But…seat belt compliance has gone from 14% in 1984 to 87% in 2013!


Work in a matrix organization? It is worth learning how to really persuade. A well developed communication campaign crossed by a reasonable compliance gaining strategy will help get you there whether it running a project or deploying an enterprise management (EPM) or portfolio project management (PPM) system.

Formula: Clearly defined performance X a thoughtful evidence based communication campaign X moderately aggressive no exception compliance gaining strategy.




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