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Learning Leader

Lessons of a Learning Leader.
'Lest I missed anything in my youth' (Alexander von Humboldt)

How should I adopt PRINCE2 in my organisation?

Posted: July 27th, 2015 by John Edmonds

 PRINCE2

This month a senior manager asks, “I am quite concerned that we are not managing our projects as well as we might and it has been suggested that we implement PRINCE2. Can you refer me to an organisation that has fully adopted the PRINCE2 method and done it successfully?”

John Edmonds, Director of Strategy and Marketing and Head of Training replies:

“That is a very interesting question, and one that I have heard several times before. However, it is not really the RIGHT question.”

A key principle of PRINCE2 is that you should tailor your use of the method according to your organisational context and to the type and scale of project that you are running. In other words, there is no “full adopted version” because your use of the method could be very different to another organisation, but both approaches would still be considered to be appropriate.

In fact the essence of PRINCE2 can be expressed in the seven principles of the method. If there is evidence of each of these principles in practice, then that organisation has “fully adopted” PRINCE2.

Taking that even further, PRINCE2 has been designed as a generic approach to project management, so it can be used by any type and size of organisation in any sector, anywhere in the world! Will it work for you? There is no reason why not. So your question should therefore be more along the lines of, “How should I adopt PRINCE2 in my organisation?”

 

More on PRINCE2 here

Contact John Edmonds here

Informal Learning

Posted: July 21st, 2015 by pearcemayfield

PM and PM podcast

 

 

Patrick Mayfield, CEO of pearcemayfield and author of Practical People Engagement, and Paul Matthews, Managing Director of People Alchemy and author of Informal Learning at Work, discuss the challenges facing L&D professionals in the twenty first century and the role of informal learning.

“So much formal training is averse to the way in we all naturally learn… there is a better way, ‘learning by doing’…..”

Download more information on Learning Pathways here.

Leading with History: the Creation Narrative

Posted: July 17th, 2015 by Patrick Mayfield

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© badahos

Many leaders focus on the future, on the what might be, on the vision. And rightly so. Leaders are at their best when they give hope to those that follow them, and vision is very much about giving them that hope in a better future.

But there is a less emphasized area of good leadership that does the exact opposite. Leaders sometimes get us to focus on the past, where we have come from. The main value in this is to connect us with our heritage, our corporate identity, and the values that were there when we began. Who are we as an organisation needs to be a part of our mission, our intent, our reason for being, as well as perhaps being a part of that visionary future.

In more so-called primitive societies, elders would share around the campfire the stories of how the tribe came to be a distinct tribe. These stories give everyone both a sense of identity, continuity and of hope in themselves. These stores often gave everyone valuable insights into what they need not learn again the hard way. They can also illustrate core values as they were being fashioned, again something very much part of core identity.

My friend, Mike Hill, who happens to also be the Bishop of Bristol, calls this the “creation narrative”, where our leaders (the elders) tell the story of how we came to be. In these stories are the vital nuggets of what made us distinctive, why we broke with convention and started something new. There are implicit messages that there are some things we should never neglect or surrender. As an example, here is my company’s creation narrative. Enjoy, “like” if you will, and let me know what you think.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=A4x99A9tigMframeborder=0allowfullscreen

Question of the Month (June 2015) – Change Management

Posted: June 12th, 2015 by John Edmonds

question of the month

“ I work in a busy PMO and have just had a very interesting conversation with my company’s Head of Change and Implementation. He believes that Change Management strategies can be put at risk because our PMs are not also competent Change managers. Is he right?!”

John Edmonds, Director of Strategy and Marketing and Head of Training replies:

 

The short answer is YES! Project managers, to be effective, need to be competent change managers as well.  Often, projects to introduce new or changed products or processes or to put on an event are planned without appropriately considering the change that the project result will cause in its environment. Project Managers DO need Change Management skills.

 

Over the last twenty years or so we have seen increasing levels of professionalism amongst project managers as more organisations adopt recognised project frameworks and more people take accredited project management training courses. However, Project Managers need something else in addition, and that something else is change management. By this I am not referring to ‘change control’ – an essential tool of the project manager to control issues and requests for change to the scope of a project. Change management is something entirely different and can be described as “an approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and organisations to a desired future state.”

So, why is this important to a project manager? Well, quite simply, the whole point of your project is to introduce change to one or more organisations, and whilst you, as project manager, may not be a part of the desired future state, you are a catalyst for it happening and many people may be looking to you for guidance, ideas, expertise and advice about that transition.

Now the challenge. Whereas project management is a series of relatively well-defined processes and concepts, the ideas behind change management are rather more equivocal. For project managers who thrive on certainty the uncertainty and ambiguity of change is a challenge. Yet however vague change management might seem when compared to the relative discipline of project management, we have no choice but to recognise its vital part in organisational transformation.

The pace and scale of change in organisations appears to be increasing and the associated challenges as complex as ever. Many of the challenges are what we often label as ‘soft’ ones – such as culture, emotions, motivation. Ironically there is nothing soft about them, they are very hard! Understanding change management and being able to lead others to grasp its importance is becoming increasingly essential. Project managers can lead the way here. Are you ready to pick up the challenge?

The pace and scale of change in organisations appears to be increasing and the associated challenges as complex as ever. Many of the challenges are what we often label as ‘soft’ ones – such as culture, emotions, motivation. Ironically there is nothing soft about them, they are very hard! Understanding change management and being able to lead others to grasp its importance is becoming increasingly essential. Project managers can lead the way here.

Are you ready to pick up the challenge?

More on Change Management

Contact John Edmonds here

The Challenge of Transformation

Posted: June 12th, 2015 by John Edmonds

Why Project Managers Need Change Management Skills

Over the last twenty years or so we have seen increasing levels of professionalism amongst project managers as more organisations adopt recognised project frameworks and more people take accredited project management training courses. This, of course, is good news.

However, to use a well-worn phrase, it is necessary but not sufficient.

To get straight to the point, project managers need something else in addition, and that something else is change management. By this I am not referring to ‘change control’ – an essential tool of the project manager to control issues and requests for change to the scope of a project. Change management is something entirely different.

Change management can be described as “an approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and organisations to a desired future state.”

Why is this important to a project manager? Well, quite simply, the whole point of your project is to introduce change to one or more organisations, and whilst you, as project manager, may not be a part of the desired future state, you are a catalyst for it happening and many people may be looking to you for guidance, ideas, expertise and advice about that transition.

Now the challenge

Whereas project management is a series of relatively well-defined processes and concepts, the ideas behind change management are rather more equivocal. For project managers who thrive on certainty the uncertainty and ambiguity of change is a challenge.

Yet however vague change management might seem when compared to the relative discipline of project management, we have no choice but to recognise its vital part in organisational transformation.

So what characteristics would enable project managers to become better catalysts, and how can they develop the skills and knowledge required?

The characteristics can be summed up as:

  • Enact
  • Engage
  • Empower

Enact

Project managers need to act as a role model throughout the organisation. This involves setting a positive and meaningful example of how to lead change successfully. Two particular ‘audiences’ for this role modelling are senior managers and middle managers. Both groups in turn need to be encouraged themselves to become role models, and project managers can be instrumental in making this a reality

Engage

Stakeholder engagement is so often the weak area of any project. In a recent survey three quarters of organisations stated that they defaulted to a top-down approach to communication and less than 10% encouraged dialogue around change initiatives. Project managers must begin to prioritise engagement and communication, as people need to understand and buy in to the case for the change if that change is to succeed. Stakeholders need clear answers to the ‘why?’ questions around change. Once again, if project managers set an example in this area, others may well follow.

Empower

Ultimately change happens within the organisation, projects ‘simply’ deliver the products that allow it to happen. Therefore the need to empower others is paramount. Change leaders at all levels in an organisation need to be recognised, equipped and supported so that they are empowered to play their part in successful change.

How can project managers develop their change management knowledge, skills and abilities?

Well, the good news is that training and qualifications in change management have been developing and maturing over the last few years and there is now a growing global recognition of the certifications and institutes available.

At pearcemayfield we have aligned ourselves with a change management qualification that is recognised by the Change Management Institute and which utilises an extremely valuable reference book as its core syllabus. We find this provides our delegates with a rich variety of ideas in an accessible structure that really equips them with a range of concepts, ideas, techniques and tools.

The pace and scale of change in organisations appears to be increasing and the associated challenges as complex as ever. Many of the challenges are what we often label as ‘soft’ ones – such as culture, emotions, motivation. Ironically there is nothing soft about them, they are very hard!

Understanding change management and being able to lead others to grasp its importance is becoming increasingly essential. Project managers can lead the way here. Are you ready to pick up the challenge?

More information about Change Management

The Importance of Change Management Skills

Posted: June 11th, 2015 by John Edmonds

JE podcast

 

John Edmonds explains why he believes that Project Managers can be key agents for change in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world and explores the challenges they face.

Download Ten Steps to Leading Change White Paper by John Edmonds

Question of the Month (May 2015) – Where did OBASHI come from?

Posted: May 19th, 2015 by Richard Rose

question of the month

Richard Rose, Director of Finances & IT and Training Consultant replies:

The OBASHI framework was invented by Fergus Cloughley and Paul Wallis of Stroma Software Ltd. during late 2001, following their collaboration on a project to help plant managers visualise and understand how and why IT assets supported business services within British Petroleum, Grangemouth, Scotland.

The subsequent OBASHI methodology was born out of the need for business professionals to easily understand the dollar per second value of dataflow that supports their business services in a simple and meaningful way so accurate and better informed operational and strategic decisions could be made.

Cloughley and Wallis recognized that by developing a methodology around the OBASHI framework, the existing methods for costing and valuing the flow of data in the Oil & Gas / Process Control industry could be made universally applicable to flows of data in all sectors.

Mored details on OBASHI® Business Design Method Foundation

Failure is not an option….

Posted: May 15th, 2015 by Patrick Mayfield

Business TurnaroundFailure is not an option….

No, it’s inevitable. In today’s business environment it is almost impossible to fail somewhere along the way.

The issues are: first, will I accept that reality? Then can I act so that when I do fail, it is cheap and useful?

Time was when we would develop methodologies that tried to avoid failure altogether. This was a conceit. The way it was typically evidenced in project management was to start further and further back in design:

“We need a plan first.” (This seems like good sense, doesn’t it?)

“Well we need a business case first.” (Of course, who would argue with that; I wouldn’t.)

“Yes but before that we need a Project Brief.”

“Yes, but before that we need a Project Mandate.”

“OK, but before that we need some kind of Strategic Objectives.”

“Yes, but first we need our Vision, Mission and Values.”

We can carry on with this seemingly-rational nonsense for as long as we wish – many consultants and business “gurus” do just that. (Confession time: I own up to having done that in the past as well! )Learn From Mistakes Move Forward People Climbing Gears

But when do we actually do something? Where is the execution?

“Oh, no. We’re not ready for that yet. What if we do the wrong thing or do it badly?”

I sometimes think we’ve created a kind of management Catch 22 where we go around and around in ever decreasing circles, never achieving anything substantive. Fear of failure has become a sort of management political correctness. It’s time to face this demon. Is failure always a bad thing? Surely the worst failure of all is never achieving a return on our efforts. Truly we have become victims of paralysis by analysis.

There are two realities we need to get to grips with in breaking out of this syndrome:

  1. The world is more complex than our models. It is a world where there are unknowns. The unknowns prevent us from planning out all failure. Only as we experiment, execute, are we going to discover more about that complexity.
  2. We often operate in a management culture of fear. Fear is always bad counselor. Fear is a dreadful strategy and a poor modus operandi. We need courage. With courage we can devise small steps of execution where we are not betting the farm, but instead discovering more and learning from these unexpected results.

My colleague, Richard Rose, and I spoke recently at a conference on Agile Project Management. I found many there who were new to Agile. Others, by contrast, had been so long immersed in Agile practice that they had forgotten the true value of incremental, Just-Enough-Design-Up-Front management. When I said, “Failure is not an option, it’s inevitable,” it seemed lights went on within both groups. Those weary with traditional management that promises much but delivers little, and those immersed in newer, more empirical approaches, both need to be aware of the value of limited failure. We hypothesize about this complex world, test, examine the results, adapt and move on. W.E. Deming had nailed this years ago in his PDCA cycle.CDWTSWFWMAEZ5QL.jpg-large

We need a kind of empirical humility about what will happen if we take this action, test it and then see if we are right.

I’d like to think this is what my fellow consultants and I truly make our most valuable contribution. We are sense-makers.

Click here if:

Agile Project Management-empowering teams!

Posted: March 17th, 2015 by Pearce Mayfield

Patrick Mayfield, CEO of pearcemayfield, and Richard Rose, Director of Finance and Information, discussing what is Agile and what makes it different from PRINCE2.

What is Agile Podcast

 

Download our White paper about What is Agile here

You can also visit our Agile page to know more about the Agile Management AgilePM Practitioner qualification and other related courses.

 

Question of the Month Agile vs Waterfall (March 2015)

Posted: March 12th, 2015 by Patrick Mayfield

A Business Change leader asks:

 “Is it possible to combine a traditional ‘waterfall’ planning and design phase but then execute in an Agile framework?”  

question of the month

Patrick Mayfield CEO of pearcemayfield replies:

 Agile vs Waterfall

Patrick Mayfield

Yes, it is, but it is a challenge and that challenge is more behavioural than technical.A project team is likely to “run on habit” and apply waterfall thinking to Agile execution. This would almost certainly lead to confusion and failure.

A more robust approach is to reverse this: start with Agile working during the exploratory iteration, start up, initiation and requirements stages, and once a prototype looks a reasonably good example of what the customer wants, build and scale using the full rigour of classic development. In fact, this is broadly the strategy in Lean Startup: use iterative working to assess the market’s real needs, prototype to see if this meets those needs, and then scale. This manages the early stages of maximum uncertainty with a more empirical Agile approach, leaving the clearer scaling phases to Waterfall disciplines once this uncertainty has been removed.

 

You can connect with Patrick on LinkedIn and don’t forget you can win a free e-copy of Patrick’s Mayfield’s Book Practical People Engagement (PPE) worth £24.38 if your question is featured.

You can ask us your questions here or go to our Agile Management pages for more information about what we offer.

 

MSP® is a registered trade mark of AXELOS Limited pearcemayfield are specialists in learning and development, helping leading organisations and individuals to become more effective in their programmes and projects and to achieve successful change. Call us now to find out more about about how we can help you do your best work.

 

 agile vs waterfall