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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 (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

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.

“This is the next step on the Change Management journey….”

Posted: February 5th, 2015 by pearcemayfield

The new Change Management qualification – coming soon!

Patrick Mayfield (chapter author of the recently published Body of Knowledge ‘The Effective Change Manager’s Handbook’) and John Edmonds (Head of Training at pearcemayfield) talk about this exciting development for all Change Management professionals.



Download our White paper about Change Literacy here

You can also visit our Change Management page to know more about the new Change Management qualification and other related courses.

Question of the Month (Jan 2015)

Posted: January 13th, 2015 by pearcemayfield

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

images (4)

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.

Marketing and Innovation

Posted: January 13th, 2015 by pearcemayfield

Patrick Mayfield talks about the ‘Marketing and Innovation, and how these can work together to deliver value for your business.



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.