The metaphor of a cog in the machine is timeless and pretty much cliché. But it is also a generalization that remains because it is so right. Within project management the question applies to your planning, prioritization, but mostly to your strategization. To fulfill your project’s needs are you a cog that operates smoothly or do you slice through the organization’s resources and processes like a blade?
Metaphorically, the image is one of a complex machine. Take a swiss time piece as an example, packed full of cogs and sprockets. Each piece is fitted with precision, low tolerance engineering. A work of art, it represents the cumulation of many workers working, doing their task perfectly and predictably.
Brake any part, warp only one cog with individuality and the time piece is forever broken. Ruined.
Individuality is not to be damned. If you have examined a clock like I have described you can see individual flair in the way each cog is crafted in the design decisions applied to it. Is it solid or etched or multipurpose?
My point is a simple one. In the enterprise, it is unnecessary to slice through the machine to succeed. With an Agile mindset it must be paramount that your project traverse, work around or use the cogs of the machine. The machine of the enterprise must endure.
Unless your project is to replace it.