Managing Multicultural Projects with Complementary Practices – Introduction

May 3, 2008 | Author: PM Hut | Filed under: HR Management,People Issues

Managing Multicultural Projects with Complementary Practices – Introduction (#1 in the series Managing Multicultural Projects with Complementary Practices)
By Cem Kaner and Johanna Rothman

Any project where people bring different assumptions about working norms (either in product development or team behavior) is a multicultural project. Even when all project participants are from one country, the project manager (PM) may still have to deal with multiple cultures and those cultures’ expectations and behaviors.

Some of the team differences are strictly cultural, while others stem from varied management styles and strategies, but all these differences will eventually show up during the project. Some project managers try to manage those differences by mandating common practices and techniques across the project. Instead of trying to get everyone to work in lock step, I’ve found it useful to get people to agree to major milestones and what they mean and to use complementary practices to achieve project success.

Complementary practices are those techniques and agreements that help each team get their jobs done. For example, one team might perform nightly builds and smoke tests. Another team might do weekly builds and full regression tests. These practices are complementary–they are not the same–but the practices work to achieve the same result: easy integration of multiple teams’ work. Each team determines what makes the most sense for them to do, as long as they meet their agreed-upon deliverables.

Original article can be found at:

Johanna Rothman consults, speaks, and writes on managing high-technology product development. Johanna is the author of Manage It!’Your Guide to Modern Pragmatic Project Management’. She is the coauthor of the pragmatic Behind Closed Doors, Secrets of Great Management, and author of the highly acclaimed Hiring the Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds: The Secrets and Science of Hiring Technical People. And, Johanna is a host and session leader at the Amplifying Your Effectiveness (AYE) conference ( You can see Johanna’s other writings at

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