THE PROJECT AND
In the previous chapter, we discussed the role of the multi-level learning coach. In this chapter, we discuss the role of the project or program management function, sometimes called a PMO (for project or program management office), but alternatively called a product development group, business transformation group, project services organization, client services group, or center of excellence (Dai, 2002; Engle, 2005; Kerzner, 2006; Rad & Levin, 2002). While a PMO is not required in order to deploy multilevel learning, the functions provided by a PMO can build learning practices into the way work gets done and transfer the resulting improvements from one team to the next.
Victoria Marsick and Karen Watkins (1999) explain that continuous systems-l evel learning is required if organizations are to improve and transform to achieve higher levels of performance. Their view is based on the work of Chris Argyris and Donald Schön (1996), who view organizational learning as occurring if two criteria are satisfied: (1) individuals, either appointed by management or anointed by followers, “take their learning back to the system,” and (2) the system has “structures, processes and a culture in place to embed and support organizational learning” (Marsick & Watkins, 1999, p. 12). Whether they are performed by a PMO or by some other group, the functions of a PMO are important because, as discussed in the previous chapter, people in project environments are continually rotating into and out of roles. When project teams disband upon completion of their work, this often means that “the end of a project is consequently the end of collective learning” (Schindler &