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Learning Leader

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

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

Question of the Month (Feb 2015)

Posted: February 15th, 2015 by pearcemayfield

Q: A Change Director writes….

 “I am shortly to lead a programme of major organisational change and this is impending change is already causing some anxiety and uncertainty amongst the team.

Can you suggest what I could be doing now to ‘prepare the stage’ and the tools, techniques and support that I might have at my disposal going forward?”

images (4)

John Edmonds, pearcemayfield’s Head of Training and the company’s Change Management course designer replies:


John Edmonds

It has been recognised that we need four things to be in place for change to be successful. These are Senior-level Sponsorship, Middle-management Buy-in, a Change Team and a considered Approach.

Interestingly, three of these relate to people, so you will need to think about getting people in place that will build your capability and capacity to deliver the change that you are seeking. Let me give you an example.

Recently I have been working with an organisation in a similar position to yours – embarking on major change. They have very wisely invested time into equipping their senior managers with the knowledge and skills to be good change sponsors. They have also recognised a group of middle managers who will enact the role of ‘Business Change Managers’. We have helped them to develop skills in how to approach and lead people through change.

So, think people first. You could do a lot worse!

You can connect with John on Twitter 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 Change Management page for more information.


Call us now to find out more about about how we can help you do your best work.

Change Management™ is a Registered Trade Mark of The APM Group Ltd.
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.

Question of the Month (Jan 2015)

Posted: January 13th, 2015 by pearcemayfield

Q: “What are the attributes of a good Programme Manager?”

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Richard Rose, Director of Finance and Information for pearcemayfield replies:


Richard Rose

Apart from having the patience of a saint, there are some attributes that should be considered when employing a programme manager.  These qualities should not be confused with the technical or business experience that may be required of the prospective candidate. High performing programme managers tend to demonstrate clear patterns of behaviour that are beyond process-oriented methods and techniques.  The Managing Successful Programmes (MSP®) Guide lists a number of attributes which can be summarised thus:

A good programme manager has to be a ‘people’ person with the inherent skills to form lasting relationships and overcome conflicts by operating in a ‘win-win’ environment. They do not have to be wedded to detailed planning – after all, this is done by their project managers!  This leads us to another management requirement of not micro-managing those poor beleaguered project managers and letting them deliver within set parameters.

However, research at Pearcemayfield has uncovered an ‘alpha trait’ to support these attributes with three emerging characteristics of a good programme manager:

  1. They are more self aware, able to articulate their own working priorities more easily; e.g. they instinctively know the priorities of the programme and its projects and therefore understand their own priorities
  2. They have a distinct bias to relationships in the way they apportion their time; e.g. they spend time communicating and shedding light for stakeholders where darkness exists in their programmes
  3. They build in margins in their schedule to deal with problems e.g.  in the way they ‘triage’ issues and in holding back time to handle the unexpected.

They need to be a ‘self-starter’ who is also self-sufficient and able to recognise and work with the political or personal agendas that may be present within the organization.

– Richard

You can connect with Richard 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 MSP® page for more information.


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.

The Strategic Moment

Posted: December 15th, 2014 by Patrick Mayfield

One of my favourite passages in Lord of the Rings is towards the beginning of the second book in the trilogy: The Two Towers. Aragorn, as leader ofAragorn
the Fellowship, is now seeing the mission fall apart before his eyes. He is having a bad day. Boromir is slain, valiantly but vainly protecting the hobbits Merry and Pippin, who are now captured by the marauding band of Orcs.

It gets worse. He discovers that Frodo, the Ring-Bearer, is also missing, along with Sam and one of the boats.

What should he do? They have just spent a precious half hour giving Boromir a river burial, as befits this great warrior of Gondor, and time is ticking away. It is urgent! Should he, Gimli and Legolas pursue Frodo and Sam to protect the Ring-Bearer (the ‘Main Thing’ of the mission, perhaps?) or seek to rescue Merry and Pippin from the Orcs?

What he does next is an object lesson to leaders in what I would call the Strategic Moment. To be sure, the situation requires urgent action, but it must be strategic action. If Aragorn makes the wrong call then the consequences could be dire.

‘Let me think!’ said Aragorn. ‘And now may I make a right choice, and change the evil fate of this unhappy day!’ He stood silent for a moment. ‘I will follow the Orcs … My heart speaks clearly at last: [emphasis mine] the fate of the Bearer is in my hands no longer. The Company has played its part…’

For me this illustrates a number of qualities of a good leader in a

  1. He pauses.
    Despite the pressing urgency of the moment, the good leader actually does something counter-intuitive: he slows down. The cavalry may almost upon the archers but they hold it for the right moment. What is crucial is that the aim is sure.
  2. He faces reality. This is not the time for indulging in denial or retreating into self-pity. Aragorn doesn’t bleat, “This isn’t happening!” (that all-too popular idiom these days) or start to take out his frustration on those comrades who happened to be around. No, he calmly faces the situation as it really presents itself. As Max de Pree once said, “A leader defines reality.” This not the time for grieving or, worse still, to indulge in the blame-game. As William Durant, founder of General Motors, once said,
    “Forget past mistakes. Forget failures. Forget everything except what you’re going to do now and do it.”
  3. He gives the situation his total attention. A strategic moment is a mission-critical moment. In pausing, this is not the time for being distracted. Mental focus is one of the key disciplines of a good leader.
  4. He searches his head and his heart. As Spencer Johnson has written elsewhere, we make better decisions when our head and our heart agree. We make better decisions that are congruent with our value systems and passion as well as making rational, logical sense.
  5. He releases himself from what he cannot do, and focuses on what he can.
    Strategic decisions are as much about saying ‘No’ to options as saying‘Yes’ to others. Leaders are always alert to the waxing and waning of what Stephen Covey calls their ‘Circle of Influence’. At times we can influence and control more than at other times; that’s just accepting reality. A real source of unhelpful stress is to get frustrated and angry. We tell ourselves that we don’t have as much executive latitude today as yesterday that some on our project aren’t as cooperative or as available today as yesterday, that key stakeholders don’t seem to be as responsive to us as they have been in the past, and it’s not fair! We can’t afford the luxury of a “pity-party” now. We need to assess with the situation as it really is now.
  6. He is prepared to redefine the Mission. The ‘Main Thing’ was to escort the Ring-Bearer to Mordor, but Aragorn reflects deeply enough to make even this mission statement negotiable. He identifies the real ‘critical success factor’ of his mission – to protect as many of his party as he can. What is not negotiable is his value of protecting those whom he can protect. Reflection helps him distinguish values and practice. In project terms, this is called ‘reviewing the business case’. In truth, the great project leader will never lose connection with the fundamental ‘why’ of the project. We need to stay connected with the business case, to refine it, re-state it and re-communicate it continually to our team. Out of this we can give authentic direction.
  7. He takes positive action. Follow through a decision with an immediate step towards it. As a leader you need to model the response for your team. This is not the
    time for ‘paralysis by analysis’. Unless we identify and act upon a positive practical response to the Strategic moment, then no matter if we have done all the above, we have failed. Consider the question, ‘What practical steps can I, as leader, take now, to model and reinforce this new strategic direction?’

I am always fascinated how leaders respond in the crucible of a crisis. These are not just Strategic Moments for the mission, but also defining moments in the character development of the leader, herself.

It seems to me that the first Strategic Moment in a project for the typical leader comes almost immediately. A client requirement is given her which is a dangerous cocktail of ambiguity and prescriptiveness. She probably hasn’t been included in the ‘pre-sales’ feasibility discussions, and this half-baked solution is almost dumped on her as a fait accomplis. What does she do when the Account Manager is demanding an immediate start: ‘Just do it!’ It takes guts, not methodology, to press the pause button in these situations.

However, if she does it enough and make the right call enough times, each time it gets easier. And she grows as a leader.

Peter Jackson’s excellent movie of Tolkein’s Fellowship of the Ring finishes just before this incident in the book. The second movie in the series – The Two Towers- skips this fascinating moment: Jackson has Aragorn hurling himself into pursuit almost immediately. The movie looks at the story, no doubt, through a postmodern lens, a view that can only appreciate the chaotic, the fast-paced and more obviously magical. But here in the book is, I believe, a classic literary portrayal of timeless leadership wisdom.

So next time you have a crisis, and everyone is clamouring for an urgent remedy, press the pause button …

…. and have the courage to wait …

… until your heart speaks clearly.

The Value of Change Management to Projects and Programmes

Posted: November 17th, 2014 by pearcemayfield

Patrick Mayfield discusses Leading Change in a VUCA enviroment

This presentation was first given at the APMG-International Showcase in Bangalore, India.

Changing Landscape of Change Management

Posted: November 16th, 2014 by Patrick Mayfield

© Syda Productions -

© Syda Productions –

It sometimes feels like everything is subject to change. Ironically, this now seems to be true of the field of change management itself. We are about see a major sea change in the key qualification in change management.

Until now the major certified training for Change Management in the UK has been the accreditation based upon Cameron and Green’s Making Sense of Change Management. This book (MSOCM) has served many of us well. Practitioners have come to this subject from a number of different backgrounds, and the book has largely done what its title says: it has helped us make sense of change management. The authors insist that the search for a unified method of change management is a vain quest; reality is far more complex. It defies humans’ behaviour being reduced in such a way.

Where’s the Road Map?

This may be true, but nevertheless, this leaves change leaders with a problem: where is the road map? Also, the curriculum based upon MSOCM is patchy and laden with references to multiple authors. On occasions the authors speak positively, but lightly, of someone’s contributions to the field, but leave us guessing as to what the practical take-away for a change manager might be.

In fairness, Cameron and Green never aimed for their work to be primarily a qualifications source book. So there are some bumps with the level of detail and richness of examples.

New Kid on the Block

The Effective Change Manager's Handbook

The Effective Change Manager’s Handbook

The news is that MSOCM will be replaced for this qualification by a new book: The Effective Change Manager’s Handbook (ECMH). (Self-disclosure: I wrote one of the chapters.) This latest work is itself based upon the Change Management Institute’s Body of Knowledge. (See my earlier post: Change Management in Miniature .) I have no great appetite for bodies of knowledge in general, but I found this BoK  useful and stimulating. Further, the work to write the subsequent ECMH was co-sponsored by APMG International in partnership with the Change Management Institute. APMG International, has announced that MSOCM will be replaced by the new reference work before the end of 2014, with a new curriculum and set of exam papers to boot. Accredited training in line with this will be available through us in January next year.

Overall, I’m glad of this development. It puts some serious support behind the vital role of change leaders and change agents. This as an area of growing felt need among our clients, and we are already setting in place other proven approaches to support them.

My early assessment is that the new curriculum will add some much-needed strength and guidance to critical practice areas such as overcoming change resistance, the levers of change, and sustaining the outcomes of change.

Refreshed Solutions in 2015

From 2015 we will also provide a re-registration to the new book for our existing change management graduates, as well as offering our clients a range of help in their difficult changes. My conviction is that this is weakest link in the value ladder, the place where organisations fall short in realising the benefits from their investment in projects. If we can improve transition management in all its guises, it can have a huge effect in back-end outcomes.

Watch this space.

Question of the Month (November 2014)

Posted: November 16th, 2014 by pearcemayfield

Question from a ‘war-weary’ IT Director: “We are attempting to integrate two organizational units with disparate IT systems and processes.  Our systems analysts have discovered quite a lot of information but ownership is sketchy and there are few diagrams to help.  Any suggestions?”

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Richard Rose, Pearcemayfield Director and Consultant Trainer replies:


Richard Rose

It seems to me that OBASHI®, a business modelling method that both business and ‘techies’ can use is relevant here. If you are running your ship under the ITIL® best practice approach to IT Service Management, you may well have a configuration management database holding a lot of the underlying information required to populate the bottom layers of an OBASHI Business and IT diagram (see below).  However, your concerns about ownership are answered by the top two layers (Ownership and Business Processes).  The other layers are Applications, Systems, Hardware and Infrastructure – hence the method is called OBASHI.

Placing the elements above or below each other within the framework signifies a relationship between the elements. For example, placing an Owner element above a Business Process element signifies that the business processes belongs to that owner. Placing a business process above an application signifies that the process uses that application etc…

Elements can then be connected on the Business and IT diagram to denote a physical relationship, such as the connection between a piece of hardware and an infrastructure element. Building up a set of pictures in this way (possibly on multiple OBASHI diagrams) helps you describe the organization and get the ‘Big Picture’.  Once you have the big picture of all your assets, processes and their ownership, you then have the opportunity to use the diagrams for analysis and will be able to identify duplication, redundancy and latency of any of the elements within the enterprise.

I would advise your systems analysts to document their findings in the form of these diagrams – even if it merely serves the purpose of mapping the technology before they hand it on to your business analysts or process analysts to draw the picture together at the top level.

By the way, these Business and IT diagrams have an even more useful purpose in the realm of organizational change as they represent the current blueprint or operating model of the business.  The future model can then be designed and compared with the current model to identify the capabilities and projects required to deliver the future state.

– Richard

You can connect with Richard 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 OBASHI page for more information.


OBASHI® is a registered trade mark of APM Group Limited | ITIL® is a registered trade mark of AXELOS Limited

Make Use of Your Training Budgets

Posted: November 10th, 2014 by pearcemayfield



  • Are you taking care of your continuing personal development?
  • Are you taking ownership of your learning and growth; keeping your knowledge and skills up to date?
  • Are you looking to save money on your training?

If your answers are YES then a pearcemayfield TRAINING SEASON TICKET could be exactly what you need! The individual Season Ticket means that you can make savings of up to 25% on standard course prices. It costs £2195 + VAT, is valid for 12 months from date of purchase, includes all course materials and gives you 10 days of training on any of our acclaimed courses, to be used in any combination that you choose. If you are interested in purchasing an individual season ticket, or would like to talk further about your needs and our extensive training products portfolio, please contact us or call us now on 01235 227252.




Do you need to make your Corporate Training Budget stretch a little further? The exclusive Platinum Club gives our Corporate Clients access to an agreed amount of training days over a twelve month period and offers significant savings on our published tariff. Choose from two levels of membership: PLATINUM 100 – 100 days of training for just £19,995, valid for 12 months, with saving you  over 30% PLATINUM 50 – 50 days of training for only £10,795, valid for 12 months with savings you more than 25% For more information or to join our Platinum Club please  please contact us or call us now on 01235 227252.

White Paper – Organising Yourself More Effectively (OYME)

Posted: November 1st, 2014 by Adrian Boorman

Contents of the Paper




Pearcemayfield is now offering the bespoke Organising Yourself More Effectively package to all its clients and we believe that this remarkable workshop is a valuable investment in both individuals and organizations. Please click here for more information If this is of interest to you.

How We Help You…

Posted: October 14th, 2014 by pearcemayfield

How we can help you explore your options, understand your problems better, recommend solutions or just be there to execute projects on your behalf.

How can we help you