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Defining Organizational Structure

organizational influence

Over the last 15 years, I’ve seen a lot of interesting ways an organizational structure will influence a project.  I’ve worked in projectized, functional, matrixed, and even composite environments.  These terms of management are interesting to me because I had to understand the definitions as part of the PMP exam.  At my last engagement, ironically, my boss went so far as to use Wikipedia to get the definition for Matrix Management without realizing I was one of the contributing authors to the page.  Personally, I would prefer to use the PMBOK.  I’ve noticed quite a few people have modified the Matrix definition on Wikipedia.

Today I was reading the PMBOK (I’m strange like that) reviewing differences between the 3rd and 4th editions.  What I noticed were definitions (in the glossary) for each organization structure with the exception of composite.  Composite, by the way, is new to the 4th edition.  Perhaps PMI will take notice and add it at a later date.  Below you’ll find figures and definitions of each.

projectized

Projectized is any organizational structure in which the project manager has full authority to assign priorities, apply resources, and direct the work of persons assigned to the project.

functional

Functional is a hierarchical organization where each employee has one clear superior, and staff are grouped by areas of specialization and managed by a person with expertise in that area.

f

Matrixed is any organizational structure in which the project manager shares responsibility with the functional managers for assigning priorities and for directing the work of persons assigned to the project.

Composite

Introduced in PMBOK Revision 4, Composite Organization involves all of the previous structures at various levels. For example, even fundamentally functional organizations may create a special project team to handle a critical project.

About Derek Huether

I'm Vice President of Enterprise Engagements at LeadingAgile. I'm super focused on results. But I also take the hand waving out of organizational transformations. I come from a traditional PM background but I don't give points for stuff done behind the scenes. The only thing that counts is what you get done and delivered. Author of Zombie Project Management (available on Amazon)

6 Responses to “Defining Organizational Structure”

  1. December 22, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    Hi Derek,

    I had a good laugh at how your manager brought in a description from wikipedia that you co-wrote. That’s priceless!

    Have you ever considered offering an executive training session to get them caught up on the pm language and enhance a common understanding?

    Best regards, Dan

    • Derek Huether
      December 23, 2009 at 3:06 am

      Dan, perhaps I should have sent them to you for training. Alas, I’m no longer with that company and neither is my former manager. Read that any way you like. It was certainly one of those “you’re kidding me, right?” moments.

      Regards,
      Derek

  2. December 22, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Hi Derek,

    I had a good laugh at how your manager brought in a description from wikipedia that you co-wrote. That’s priceless!

    Have you ever considered offering an executive training session to get them caught up on the pm language and enhance a common understanding?

    Best regards, Dan

    • Derek Huether
      December 22, 2009 at 11:06 pm

      Dan, perhaps I should have sent them to you for training. Alas, I’m no longer with that company and neither is my former manager. Read that any way you like. It was certainly one of those “you’re kidding me, right?” moments.

      Regards,
      Derek

  3. Mike Leisegang
    September 29, 2011 at 7:06 am

    Hi Derek,
    I have been training PMP students for several years, and only recently noticed the “composite” organisation in the 4th edition. Wondering where on earth it came from, I started looking back at older editions of the PMBOK Guide, and discovered that it isn’t that new after all! It is referenced in the 1996 version (page 22 of that book) which took me totally by surprise, since that was the version I used to get my PMP all those years ago, and “composit” certainly wasn’ taught to me then…. Just goes to show
    Regards
    Mike Leisegang, PMP
    Johannesburg, South Africa

    • Anonymous
      September 29, 2011 at 7:21 am

      That pretty interesting! When I wrote the original post, I remember being told that composite was new, without digging into previous versions to verify. Perhaps I was misguided in believing it was completely new, rather than there being a change about it.

      Fortunately, PMI is working on a new version of the PMBOK and aspiring PMPs can focus on something new.

      Thank you for reading my post and leaving a comment!

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