Late last year, we were commissioned to write a Lessons Learned report on the Network Rail Thameslink programme to enable other organisations to learn from their experiences.
When we commenced work, it became clear that there had been extensive documentation of lessons throughout the lifecycle, but the problem was people weren’t listening.
The challenge therefore was to find a way to communicate the lessons that this amazing programme had faced and how they overcame them and the lessons that others can learn from this experience in a format that could be consumed.
The scale of the assignment has led us to invoke a number of new techniques beyond this case study that enable key individuals to share their passion, pains and gains through the use of videos and workshops to ensure their story would not be lost.
Rather than a formal report, we have created a case study together with supporting videos to communicate the message. This Thameslink case study provides an insight into workings off a major infrastructure programme, and how they in effect developed an approach that has become the second generation of programme management within Network Rail.
Thameslink review case study
In addition to this Case study, we also produced a paper on the challenges in general around lessons learned and knowledge sharing, based on our experiences during this assignment.
Let’s face it, we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t make mistakes, and we have seen many in our time.
In the early stages of maturity, there are many common errors that people make when delivering programmes, so we thought we would jot a few down for you.
- Thinking like a project: if you fill a programme with project people, guess what happens, they behave like project people and it gets run like a project. Programme management professionals have a different skill set, don’t mistake qualifications for skills.
- Forgetting the vision: at the start it is all about the vision. Once it starts rolling and people get busy it is easy to forget why the programme exists, it loses direction, scope drifts and before you know it, all people are talking about is what the projects are doing and not what the programme is doing.
- Forgetting there is a lifecycle: programmes have a start and an end, if your programme doesn’t have an end then it is probably a portfolio. They go through very distinct stages of evolution. In the programmes that fail or lose direction, it is because these stages (tranches) are indistinct and the whole delivery becomes a blur.
- Not having a blueprint: this one is simple, if you don’t have a blueprint to describe the end game for the programme, you will not know where you are going. This is a fatal error for most programmes, not thinking enough about the outcomes which means there will be no benefits.
- Leaving change till later: programmes deliver change, whether it’s major infrastructure build or internal business transformation, failing to plan and cost the change from the outset will lead to failure in the future. Benefits come from change, so without change there will be no benefits.
- Looking in the wrong places for risks: programme risks are not pumped up project risks. The risks that kill programmes rarely come from projects, they are normally linked to strategic changes of direction, underestimation of the cost and impact of change to the environment they are impacting, business or social.
- Getting the governance wrong: you may not be in a position to affect this, but the people on a programme board should have very clear terms of reference and authority. Programme boards are full of important people with big egos not making the important decisions.
Now you can do a quick health check on your own programme and judge whether it is likely to succeed.
If you need any more help, our services may be able to help. Why not check out our brochure to see the services we offer, or visit our website at www.aspireeurope.com
“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others” – Anthony Robbins
So many projects and programmes snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by failing to communicate effectively or misjudging the mood of the stakeholder base.
In this podcast Rod Sowden talks about the approach to Stakeholder Management defined in Managing Successful Programmes and gives an overview of the key areas to focus on and how the stakeholder management can be deployed effectively.
In this video, Rod Sowden the Aspire Europe Managing Director talks about Programme Lifecycles.
Hope you enjoy!
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