A girl watched her mother cook a fish. Her mother chopped off the head and tail of the fish and put it in the pan. "Why do you do that?" the daughter said. Her mother replied: "Because my mother cooked fish this way." The girl went to see her grandmother and asked her why she chopped the head and tail off the fish before cooking it.

Her grandmother replied: "Because my mother cooked fish that way."

The girl went to visit her great-grandmother and asked her why she chopped the head and tail off the fish before cooking it. Her great-grandmother replied: "Because I didn't have a big enough pan."

On projects, are you curious enough to question why things are done the way they are? This curiosity goes beyond deciding how much project management structure to apply. I take it as read that you have a project management methodology that you follow, and depending on the project, you tailor your documentation and approach appropriately. After all, tailoring is the best way to get things done proportionate to the size and complexity of the project.

But do you challenge anything else?

What other rules can you challenge? How about:

Project team members are not compensated for their efforts.

Can you negotiate overtime for them, especially the junior staff? If not, are there other forms of compensation you can offer, like training or professional development courses? How else you can you make them feel as if their efforts are valued? Donuts and a 'thank you' are the least you can do.

Project budgets must be managed by Finance.

Why? As a project manager you are capable of managing budgets for the work you do. Ask to take control of budget tracking. If you need help from Finance, ask them. They may be grateful to have one less project budget to manage, and you can always give them information or report status to them whenever they need it.

We don't have a project support function.

This means that you will spend a lot of your time sorting out meeting rooms, lunches, timesheets and other housekeeping-type activities. This is not a good use of your time. So if your project doesn't have admin support to manage filing and the like, can you challenge and get someone to help out?
We don't have a project support function
Maybe an admin assistant with some spare time, or someone who would like to become a project manager and who would value the experience. Or how about a student? Someone studying for a project management degree or an MBA may appreciate the chance to work in an organisation on a project like yours. Make the case that your hourly rate is higher than theirs, and it doesn't make sense to have a highly paid member of staff working on these things. Your time would be better spent working on your iMindQ mindmaps and project plans, and you could help your assistant understand that part of your job too.

We don't do it like that here.

This is my favourite 'rule'. Why not? Would it be a disaster if you tried something different this time? OK, if you are suggesting that the company shift from weekly billing to monthly billing, you'll get some push back. But if your suggestion won't fundamentally affect the operating or legislative rules of the company, give it a go.

The best way in my experience to deal with this kind of rule is to do it differently and see what happens. If your way works, great. If it doesn't, so be it. You tried. Try to work out why your way was unsuccessful so that you can make changes to your approach in the future.

Don't accept any constraints at face value. Everything is up for discussion. Challenge as many organisational rules as you can without becoming annoying. Only follow those rules that you absolutely have to - the 'real' organisational rules. Do what you need to do to get by, but drop anything that isn't absolutely essential. Constantly look for ways to make your life easier, and the lives of your project team members.

The project will thank you for it, and you never know, the organisation might come round to your way of thinking too.