New PMO – the Hub of Innovation?

Is your PMO the hub of innovation in your organisation?

Getting used to a new PMO function is a significant cultural change for any project community. An organisation that previously had no centralised project support could feel that a new PMO is a constraining influence, imposing formal processes, and stopping them responding promptly to ad hoc requests. Before the PMO implementation team knows where they are, a significant wall of resistance has built up, with teams talking about the ‘PMO police’ and doing anything to avoid engaging with them, or using the newly centralised processes.

Kelmans-ProcessAn understanding of Kelman’s Levels of Adoption can help. Kelman suggested that there are three different levels of acceptance for change, and it’s important to know which one you’re aiming for when you start introducing anything new.

Level One – Compliance

This is a very prescriptive approach, where a PMO sets out new processes and provides new templates and expects people to comply and use them. In some cases, compliance may be rewarded by being a gateway to other things such as budget approval. Penalties may be in place for non-compliance.


Level Two – Identification

Here, a PMO will take the time to set out the benefits resulting from anything new. There’s no expectation that people will simply use new methods because they’ve been told to. Investment is made in understanding people’s concerns about changes, and helping to appreciate the targeted benefits and the reasoning behind the new ways of doing things. People affected by new processes are able to identify with them.


Level Three – Internalisation

The PMO has set out the processes and templates in the first instance, but these are fully understood and have become accepted as the normal way of doing things. A real appreciation of the value of the processes has meant that people are able to apply their own judgement as to how they are used. People are free to innovate, with the PMO’s framework of processes and templates at the core of all new activities.


Kelman’s model is a simple one, but knowing which level of adoption we are aiming for from the start of any change project is critical for success. To achieve level three, carefully planned communication and consultation is needed from the start. Addressing the process side of change is never enough – it’s essential to consider the perspectives of all the stakeholder groups affected. That way individuals and teams feel a part of the new plans and processes, will understand the benefits of adapting to new practices, and are able to add value and innovation within the new framework.

Are you aiming for your PMO to be the hub of innovation?

Consider where it is right now in terms of Kelman’s levels of adoption and plan your future communications with that in mind.

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