Project Organization II

RT-103 Topic Summary
RT 103


This research project’s objectives were to improve the understanding of how project teams are formed and key leaders are selected. It appeared at the onset of the project that a need existed for 1) a better understanding of the process that managers use to combine personnel into a successful project team, 2) a better understanding of the key traits, skills, and behaviors of key leaders and the interests (i.e., operations) that they represent, and 3) a more explicit approach to selecting team members on the basis of their characteristics, in structuring the project organization. The research team used case studies outlining the results of interviews and questionnaire data on traits, skills, and behaviors to develop an assessment tool for use in developing a successful project team.

Surveys on traits, skills, and behaviors, as well as case studies were employed to examine the common characteristics of successful teams and to develop an assessment tool for assembling such teams. The major project areas reviewed in the case studies included the project in relation to the number of interests, the number of people, and the time required to complete the project; the organizational structure of the team members; the selection process of key team members; the importance of traits, skills, and behaviors in the selection process; the technical, managerial, and interpersonal expertise of the team; the formal or informal efforts of forming the key leaders into a team; the method used to bring the team together; the influence of changes on the project organization; the significant items contributing to project success; and the barriers to the project’s success. Three instruments were used to analyze these case studies; the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator, the Strength Deployment Inventory, and a structured interview questionnaire developed by the research team.

A project’s unique characteristics must be considered when establishing a project organization and selecting individuals for key roles. The organizations represented in each of the case studies showed that different organizations can fit the skills, traits, and behaviors of their team to meet the owner’s requirements.

Key Findings and Implementation Tools

1 : Eight Key Ingredients for Successful Projects

The original Project Organization research team (RT-12) identified eight key ingredients for successful projects: people, leaders, teams, project objectives, the design basis, the project strategy, work planning, and information systems.
Reference: (RR103-11)

2 : Using Sieves in Selecting a Project Team

Five different sieves representing the various criteria used in selecting the project team were found to be useful. However, not all sieves are entirely objective in nature, which means different people using different objective criteria would likely reach a very different decision about who would be best for a particular situation. The use of sieves is more of a guideline of the methods used to determine the best project team. (RR103-11, p. 73)
Reference: (RR103-11)

3 : Research Team Conclusions

Eleven key conclusions were made during the project team’s research. A sampling of the conclusions are listed here. For a complete listing and a description of each, refer to the research report. (RR103-11, p. 79)

  • Lack of trust on a project team is contagious
  • Change orders were not a problem; differences in perception of whether a change existed or not created conflict within the team
  • People recognize and want the “can-do” attitudes in a time of crisis, but until then, they will wait to replace the “can’t-do” attitudes
  • Selecting key leaders for a project team is not a systematic process
  • Where there is the perception of equal knowledge, trust is built through personal relationships
  • People tend to pick people who are like themselves
Reference: (RR103-11)

4 : Research Team Recommendations

The following recommendations were made by the research team: (RR103-11, pp. 85-87)

  • We use a formal sieve for evaluating technical skills (the resume and longevity), but we need to develop the same for evaluating conceptual and interpersonal skills.
  • Inventories are not predictive of performance or fit within a team. They do, however, help people understand themselves and others.
  • To improve project performance, more than technical skills should be reviewed.
  • Key leaders should develop a better understanding of the entire team before beginning a project.
Reference: (RR103-11)

5 : Project Organization Do’s and Don’ts

The research team developed the following list of Don’ts and Do’s related to project organization: (RR103-11, pp. 87-88)

  • Don’t ignore the differences between people.
  • Don’t wait for relationships to get better.
  • Don’t block communication channels.
  • Don’t assign team members from above (let the Project Managers select their own teams).
  • Do understand yourself through others’ eyes.
  • Do think ahead.
  • Do train leaders to use these instruments in the forming stage of the team.
  • Do consider more than technical ability.
Reference: (RR103-11)

Key Performance Indicators

Improved performance/achieved success

Research Publications

Optimizing Project Organizations - RR103-11

Publication Date: 08/1996 Type: Research Report Pages: 145 Status: Reference