Part 3 Organize to Collaborate


The Road to Responsible Collaboration


By Robin Hornby

Alberta, Canada


In this series, Robin Hornby argues that the effectiveness of project management is improved by driving project responsibility into the organization and creating conditions favorable to ‘responsible collaboration’. But this collaborative environment will not fall into place without the support of senior management and the adoption of enabling frameworks, guidelines, and techniques. In this third article, Robin argues that specific drivers, some well-known but re-imagined as evolutionary steps, lead naturally to project management maturity and the complete alignment of corporate and project goals.


In the previous article I discussed techniques the project manager (the PM) can use to foster alignment. Although these are beneficial, I concluded that to reach alignment state 3 some minor changes to the organization are also needed. The owner must commit general management and senior staff to these changes and the PM must adapt to the shift this implies.

PMs are beset by a constant stream of changes and refinements to the discipline of project management (PM). They must wonder whether such changes are merely resolving narrow problems or are taking steps towards PM maturity. As in biological evolution, developments following a path proven to be successful deserve most attention. Analyzing changes using such an evolutionary analogy may provide a perspective on expected value and possibly identify a mature destination.

Using this analogy, some evolutionary branches can be imagined, starting with the technical formalization of PM in the mid-1950s. Scores of techniques have now evolved. Knowledge was first formalized around the triple constraint (cost, schedule, and scope), but progressively expanded to include both specialized material such as risk, aspects of quality and purchasing, and more general management topics such as human resources and interpersonal skills.

A second evolutionary branch concerned the scope of the work itself. In the beginning, the entity to be managed was simply a project. Then it grew to multiple projects, then to a program of related projects, and then to a project portfolio chosen for attributes of presumed interest to executives.

But the most compelling evolutionary branch has a natural affinity with the true goal of PM, which is fundamentally a method for getting work done. As I argued in part 1, it is self-evident that the people who have both a role on the project and a functional position in the organization must be engaged and committed to its success.  Historical initiatives to strengthen PM by following this idea are steps towards owner/provider alignment and open the door to an evolutionary destination. The graphic, The Alignment Steps, provides a visual for this proposition.


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Editor’s note: This series of articles is by Robin Hornby, author of four books including A Concise Guide to Project Collaboration: Building a Delivery Organization (Routledge 2023) and Commercial Project Management: A Guide for Selling and Delivering Professional Services (Routledge 2017). Learn more about the author in his profile below.

How to cite this paper: Hornby, R. (2023). Part 3 Organize to Collaborate, The Road to Responsible Collaboration, series article, PM World Journal, Vol. XII, Issue VII, July. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/pmwj131-Jul2023-Hornby-part-3-organize-to-collaborate-series-article.pdf

About the Author

Robin Hornby

Alberta, Canada


Robin Hornby worked in Information Technology for over 40 years, taught project management at Mount Royal University for 12 years and maintained a consulting practice. He worked across Canada and internationally, was a long-time holder of the PMP designation, and presented frequently at PMI symposia. He pioneered many delivery management practices and is the author of four books. His latest book titled A Concise Guide to Project Collaboration: Building a Delivery Organization was published in 2023 by Routledge.  For more information, visit www.tmipm.com. Robin Hornby can be contacted at rchornby@shaw.ca

To view other works by Robin Hornby, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/robin-hornby/