PM Question of the Week - week 14 2015

Dear colleague, welcome to the "PM question of the week" newsletter for week 14 2015.

In this issue we challenge you with a situational PMP question regarding conflict management: this type of question describes a situation and ask how would you behave. As always, situational questions assume that your are the project manager, even if this is not explicitly stated.

You are in charge of delivering on budget and on time, and you manage a number of team members from the IT and engineering departments. During a meeting, the customer and the IT head start a though conversation about a specific requirement: the IT head implicitly suggests that the customer does not understand the limits of the framework technology that was selected for the implementation, while the customer is trying to make his point regarding the requirement. You know that it is impossible to change technology at this stage of the project, and at the same time you remember that the customer requirement is clearly specified in the contract. You need to step into the conversation to sort things out: which of the following conflict management strategies will you use?
a. Avoidance.
b. Compromise.
c. Assertiveness.
d. Accommodation.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is b. Compromise.

Explanation: compromise, that is giving up some ground and gain other ground elsewhere, is the best conflict management strategy when no other viable alternative exists: in the situation it is impossible to change framework technology (IT head ground) and at the same time it is also impossible not to fulfill the contractual obligations (customer ground), so you need to compromise.
Let's examine the other options:
a. Avoidance consist in doing nothing: this is a very bad choice as the conflict will not go away and will get worse over time if not solved.
c. Assertiveness means that you force a "IT head wins - Customer loses" solution. This is impossible as you are bound by the contract.
d. Accommodation means that you force a "IT head loses - Customer wins" solution. The question clearly states that this is impractical at the current stage of the project.

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