PRINCE2 Project Culture 

 December 1, 2023

By  Dave Litten

PRINCE2 Project Culture

Culture is the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and working methods that characterize a group of people. Project culture often combines people from different parts of the organizational ecosystem, where different working cultures may exist.

A PRINCE2 project team may need to establish a culture distinct from the business but in such a way that it remains aligned with the broader organizational ecosystem.

The project brief must capture a shared understanding of the project developed with crucial influencers.

This shared understanding of the project combines with an understanding of the external legal and regulatory obligations and relevant business commitments (such as sustainability targets) to guide multi-layered decision-making.

Based on the shared understanding developed with the key influencers, it is possible to establish ways of working to ensure that all impacted areas of the organizational ecosystem are appropriately involved in the project as it progresses.

The ways of working are captured in the PRINCE2 management approaches for the project. Gaining a shared understanding is also enabled through who is assigned to project roles, including decision-makers on the project board who represent business, user, and supplier interests.

The project management team structure and the quality and planning practices in PRINCE2 ensure that users are represented or involved in defining, developing, and controlling the quality of products and are consulted in the decision-making process. The shared understanding enables aligned behaviours and sets the culture for the project.

At the start of a project, the project culture tends to reflect the organization’s culture. However, a distinct project culture may emerge as it evolves.

The formal ways of working must evolve to reflect the emerging project culture and support alignment with the broader organizational ecosystem with which the project needs to interact.

As the project progresses, critical influencers and key relationships may change.

It is essential to ensure that the shared understanding of the project remains valid and supports its evolving culture.
Project teams should check the shared understanding at the end of each project stage and whenever there is a change in critical influencers.

Defined ways of working should remain aligned with how people are working.

Persistent non-compliance with project processes is often a leading indicator that the agreed ways of working have become unaligned with the emerging project culture.

Although it is tempting to assume non-compliance is because of poor behaviours, there could be an underlying disconnect worth exploring.

The ways of working should evolve to remain aligned with the desired project culture and the broader organizational ecosystem with which the project interacts.

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Dave Litten

David spent 25 years as a senior project manager for USA multinationals, and has deep experience in project management. He now develops a wide range of Project Management Masterclasses, under the Projex Academy brand name. In addition, David runs project management training seminars across the world, and is a prolific writer on the many topics of project management.

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