Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Building enthusiasm for the return to work

Now that the Bank Holiday is over I feel a sense of ‘back to workness’ that is making me organise what I need to get done between now and Christmas (only 15 weeks to go!).

It’s a good time to plan some activities that will help you learn more and develop your skills so have a look at our new download

It is also a good time to look back on the year to see all of the extra things you have done to increase your knowledge and make sure you keep a record of them. It is always useful to have an update list of all your development activities – for your CV or to bring up at a performance review.

The sorts of activities to look for include:
• On the job training
• Participating in workshops and briefings
• Holding a coaching session
• Mentoring a colleague
• Attending exhibitions and seminars
• Formal training courses
• Acquiring qualifications
• Delivering presentations
• Undertaking research assignments

All of these activities contribute to your continual professional development. If you want to read more have a look at our quick guide or our new whitepaper

Monday, 22 August 2011

Is new X Factor judge a natural leader?

Watching X factor last night was an interesting example of leadership. Louis Walsh, the only remaining judge from previous seasons could reasonably have been expected to take the 'head judge' place at the table and show the 'newbies' how it is done. However, from the first audition it became apparent that Gary Barlow was the true leader of the judges, with a range of actions and behaviours that led all of the other judges, Louis included, to follow him:
- He sat in the end seat previously occupied by Simon Cowell
- He sat back from the table, turned slightly away from the stage and towards the other judges in a casual gesture that indicated he was in control of the situation. This was in marked contrast to the other judges who all sat straight to the table facing the stage.
- When he disagreed with the views of the other judges he asked 'what are we doing' indicating that he expected their judging to fit with the previously stated objective of finding a 'global superstar' and indicating disdain for their childish endorsement of a clearly tone deaf Tai Chi instructor.
- He voted against the other judges in this situation clearly defining his willingness to be 'his own man' and not be swayed by the group
- During the breaks the other judges looked to Gary for leadership when returning to the stage much as the judges had previously waited for Simon Cowell to be ready before going back on stage.

Leadership is authority and control of a situation. You can decide if you want to take a leadership position in any given situation but your role will only be confirmed if others involved in the situation decide to follow you.

If you want to know about leadership, especially in the context of leading change within your organisation sign up for our change management course and develop your leadership ability to rival that of Gary Barlow (even if your singing is not up to much!)

Monday, 15 August 2011

New resource materials

August can be a useful month for taking stock on the achievements of the year and catching up with all the research and latest trends in our areas of business. For those of you involved in project, programme, portfolio, risk and change management I thought I would share some of the most useful articles I have been reading lately – I hope you enjoy them and that they provide food for thought:

The 5 Essential Metrics for Managing IT
This article has some useful ideas for those responsible for identifying which benefits to measure for their programme or what benefits to track within the portfolio. It also has some useful ideas about how to categorise initiatives within the benefits between discretionary and mandatory projects:

Risk Management Comes of Age
This is a useful article for anyone who is involved in improving their organisations approach to risk management and is looking for evidence to support their cause.

Building Organisational Capability
This is a series of 4 thought leadership pieces from the APM Benefits Management Specific Interest Group and I thought the second one examining the journey to effective change management was particularly interesting:

What Successful Transformations Share
This report summarises the results of the McKinsey Global survey on transformational change, and makes some very clear points about what drives successful large-scale change

Using programme management to deliver strategic objectives
This paper explains the case for using programme management as a structure that brings together project and change management into a cohesive approach that will successfully deliver the strategic objectives of the organisation

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Project activity increasing for September

Tonight I am watching two news items: rioting in London and Birmingham; heightening of tension in the financial markets in Europe and the U.S. Part of my job is to try and predict the future and work out what organisations will be concentrating their efforts on in the next 12-18 months.

Given the news coverage it is hard at times like this not to be pessimistic and think that the immediate future will be dominated by restructuring and redundancy programmes. However, I am cheered by the number of organisations that are rushed off their feet this August as they cope with 'opportunity overload' - holding workshops now to plan and define new projects and programmes so that the work can start as soon as everyone returns (although the amount of holiday being taken this summer is definitely lower).

This stream of new initiatives provides lots of opportunities for getting involved and making lasting improvements in our approach to work, our levels of innovation and customer service. If you are not sure how to get started have a look at the guidance I have put together to explain project, programme and change management:, and

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Using performance management to increase project success

One of the most interesting aspects of my job is explaining the relevance of project management to those who are not directly responsible for managing projects. This week I met with an HR Director was fed up with projects which she saw as creating more problems than solutions as staff struggled to adopt the new deliverables.
We discussed the need to manage the implementation of what projects deliver as closely as we manage their development during the project lifecycle. Whilst PRINCE2 and other project approaches mention the need for effective implementation and handover, the activities are often specified as project closure activities rather than being embedded in the project from the beginning.
The HR Director asked me to include updating the performance management system as a standard project activity in her organisations project methodology.
Her reasons for this are simple. We know that people prioritise the tasks for which their performance is measured so if we want to drive use of project deliverables after we the project has closed and the project team has disbanded then we should plan for this. We can use performance management to ensure that the new ways of working are identified during testing and training and new performance metrics agreed and incorporated into job descriptions. We have to pass on the responsibility for use of the project deliverables as well as project deliverables that meet the user requirements.
Not unsurprisingly the HR Director said that this was such a simple step, she did not understand why it wasn’t mentioned in project management guidance. My answer was to explain that as project managers many of us do not have extensive experience in performance management because we are not line managers (I have built a career around avoiding the need to line manager large numbers of staff!) so the need to develop job descriptions, performance metrics and carry out staff appraisals is not in our DNA.