Author Archives: aspireeurope

Brexit – The worst transformation programme ever

Don’t worry – this isn’t a politically biased post, it is looking at the Brexit programme – not the rights and wrongs.

Back on the 30th June 2016 – we posted this optimistic view on what could be a wonderful example of British best practice to the world, delivering Brexit using MSP,  I even included the benefits map as we saw it.

We subsequently published light-hearted monthly progress reports until it reached the point when it was clear we had no idea where we going and, after 3 “nothing to reports” we gave up.

Most programmes run into trouble when they try to turn the vision into the blueprint and benefits. This one never made it to a Vision, it got stuck at “Brexit means Brexit”, or “We are taking back control”.

John Kotter over in the US must be shaking his head, wondering why none of our leaders read his book – step 2 of change “Establish a powerful coalition”, I’ve pulled my hair out wondering why they didn’t read MSP.

After watching the events of yesterday and looking for my own green shoots, I stood back and wondered if we genuinely have the worst programme in history as it has uniquely achieved  all the “known causes of failure” listed in MSP.  It has also managed to avoid learning anything from the NAOs regular pearls of wisdom – it would really make a wonderful case study.

A friend of mine out in New Zealand, Grant Avery, wrote a tremendous book comparing the Everest expedition disaster and compares it to project management. In his book, he highlighted the narcissism amongst the expedition leadership being a major cause of failure and he explores the implications of this on programme directors/managers, insofar as they believe totally in their own infallibility and that they are right (ringing any bells yet?). He also talks about the need for authentic leaders doing things on beliefs and setting examples – walking the talk.

Listening to the news this morning, it struck me that everyone seemed to think they were right and everyone else would need to compromise.  They were in denial about the situation we are in and also that pretty much everyone, was talking about  their strong beliefs in that they represent the will of the people.

So if we have narcissistic leaders who believe they are authentic and representing others, what would we get – well I think the word is DELUDED.

The problem we now have is that we have around 625 of these people sat in the same building voting against everything that offends their beliefs and egos and unwilling to compromise to find any sense of a way forward – a vision.

Stepping back to 1996 and Kotters 8 steps of change, the referendum gave us step 1, we are still pending on step 2 and 3.

  • Establish a sense of urgency. …
  • Form a powerful coalition. …
  • Create a Vision. …

I guess we are back at step 1 again now, so 73 days to go before we crash out – I might start highlight reporting again !!!

 

 

 

 

Brexit – the biggest MSP programme ever

 

In the aftermath of the referendum there is clearly a massive change on its way and as programme management is all about delivering strategic change, we thought it would be a good idea to start to think about Brexit in terms of a transformation programme

We thought it would be useful to illustrate how Managing Successful Programmes (MSP®) would handle the challenge and as always, it comes up trumps and helps focus on on the dilemmas being faced and the process for dealing with them. Brexit – the biggest MSP programme ever  – we hope you enjoy the read.

For more information on the Managing Successful Programmes framework, please click here

MSP® is a [registered] trade mark of AXELOS Limited, used under permission of AXELOS Limited. All rights reserved

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Filed under Articles, Brexit, MSP®, Programme Management

Seven Deadly Sins – Change Management

This another in our popular Seven Deadly Sins series, this time we tackle the difficult topic of change management.

Let’s face it, change is everywhere and despite all the intellectual energy that has gone into change management over the last 2,000 years, we are not going to master it any time soon.

“We trained hard but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.” Gaius Petronius Arbiter, Roman solider (c27 – 66AD)

It is also fair to say that there is no sign of it slowing down either, in fact, it is accelerating. So, to help you out, here are our Seven Deadly Sins of Change Management that you may wish to avoid in your organisation:

  1. Underestimating the organisation’s permafrost – assuming the support of middle and senior management to the initiative is a deadly mistake. Despite the rhetoric, they really don’t like change as they are often overworked already. They are regularly caught in a trap between executives and staff, which can mean implementing strategies they don’t believe in.
  2. Mistaking consultation for influence – inferring people are being consulted when they are in fact being told what is happening is a great way to increase resistance. “Consultation” is a word with multiple meanings, so understanding the level of authority associated with being “consulted” is always worth considering.
  3. There is nothing so unfair as to treat everyone equally – each individual and group will respond in a different way as the impact of change will be different. Assuming that everyone will welcome or reject it, is asking for trouble. The question everyone will want to know is, “what is in it for me” and that will define the level of support or resistance you experience.
  4. Assuming the benefits are attractive – often the benefits for the organisation are threats to individuals; so whilst the leaders are excited about how great the new world will be, most of the staff are dreading what it will mean for them.
  5. Declaring victory too early – just because the early skirmishes go well, do not assume that the battle for change has been won. Pushing change past the tipping point and gaining momentum is the hard bit. The extra effort needed to mobilise the organisation and create the shift in balance is much harder than sustaining the established pace.
  6. Leaders failing to lead – inconsistent messaging creates ambiguity and the leaders of change do not step forward to clarify direction or resolve conflicts. Signposts are needed that symbolise the old world has gone and that new ways are being established.
  7. Underestimating the forces of darkness – the Refuseniks back off under pressure when there is structured change management in place but the chattering subversives will re-emerge when it is safe and try to re-establish the old practices.

“Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception”.  Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince

 

If you need any further support, our services may be able to help. Why not have a look at our brochure to see the services we offer, or visit our website at www.aspireeurope.com

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Fresh Look: Business Case Management

Fresh Look: Is a series of articles take a look at common topics and try to come up with some new ideas and insight into problems that seem to repeat themselves across many organisations

Welcome to our article on the touchy subject of business cases, touchy because so many project and programmes fail to deliver to their aspirations, with Gartner estimating 75% of projects fail to achieve expectations. In the UK public sector alone, it is estimated that £1.35bn is spent just on writing business cases alone.

Thank you to Paul Mansell, Stefan Sanchez, Eileen Roden and Geof Leigh for their contributions We all hope you find the article interesting.

If we can help you in  any way we hope you will get in touch, and we offer the APMG Better Business Cases qualification if you are looking for training

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MSP Survival Guide for SROs – Programme Business Case

MSP Survival Guide for Senior Responsible Owners has been written specifically for you (the SRO), full of helpful advice to make your hectic life easier

There are many reasons why programmes fail, but failure to grasp the scale of the change being delivered and weak leadership of the programme teams are often contributing factors.

As you are unlikely to have time to read the MSP guide or to go on courses, we have covered the main things that you will need to know in a format that can be easily referenced.

In this series of extracts we are publishing a summary of the key points from each of the chapter of the MSP Survival Guide for SROs. If you would like to buy a copy, please follow this link and quote the discount code of SG15 for a 10% discount.

Here is our advice for SROs on the Programme Business Case

Nothing defines humans better than their willingness to do irrational things in the pursuit of phenomenally unlikely payoffs.’ Scott Adams

The absolute worst sin you can commit is deliberately underestimating the cost and timescale to get your pet initiative accepted hoping once its underway it wont get stopped even though the cost increases. There are likely to be few if any winners but there will be lots of losers such as those who don’t get the benefits.

You should keep the business case close to hand (or at least the summary if it is one of the 100-page types). The business case is your contract with your Executive and investment decision makers, and you are accountable for delivering on that contract, so use it as your decision-making compass.

For the full extract, read on

MSP Survival Guide for SROs tasters – Programme Business Case

 

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Real Madras Forever

 

Six months ago we were approached by a bunch of overweight chaps who needed a sponsor for their football team.

Not an overly attractive proposition that would appeal to the average company looking to boost its image, but not being your average company, we looked into it a bit deeper.

The group were part of a national movement called ManVFat, an organisation set up a couple of years ago dedicated to helping chaps lose weight…

Full article here: Real Madras Forever

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11 December, 2018 · 08:30

Delivering world class project delivery at Network Rail

Image result for network rail Lets face it, for many people Network Rail is their least favourite organisation, most of us have a tale of misery (we have) about a train journey.

What most of us don’t know is that Network Rail is one of the biggest project delivery organisations in the world, investing billions of pounds annually to recover from the historic lack of investment and build a 21st century railway whilst maintaining a Victorian infrastructure. At any one moment, around 117,000 are employed as part of these investments on the rail network.

This case study tells the story of the performance improvement journey over the last four years of Network Rail Infrastructure Projects (not the operations or the train operating companies) and in particular the Signalling division, who has now achieved P3M3 level 4.4 maturity, the highest score we have seen after assessing hundreds of organisations around the world.

This case study provides the evidence of the performance improvements that come from the adoption of P3M3 as the improvement framework.

We hope you enjoy it.

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Filed under Articles, Assurance, Maturity Assessments, P3M3®, Project Management

Fresh look – P3M v Corporate risk interfaces

Welcome to another  one of our Fresh Look, these are a series  of articles taking a look at common topics to try to come up with some new ideas and insight into problems that seem to repeat themselves across many organisations.

In this article we look at the dysfunctional relationship between and organisations corporate risk world and the  P3M risk world and offer some ideas on how it could be better. Fresh look – P3M v Corporate Risk Management

 

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Filed under Knowledge Nugget, Portfolio Management, Programme & Portfolio Office, Risk Management