Why is learning from failure so difficult?

forklift

One of the great mysteries is why do we keep making the same mistakes or doing blindingly stupid things. The P3M industry is just a reflection of a wider society, as programmes and projects fail repeatedly for the same reasons, yet each time it seems to come as a complete surprise.

TSO asked Aspire Europe to write the guest article for their website, so we decided to focus on this topic and share our insights. We hope you find the article useful.

If just one word from this article triggers a thought or an idea that improves your performance at any time in the future, then it will have been worthwhile.

 

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Filed under Change Management, Knowledge Nugget

Democracy is killing our infrastructure

Massive construction

At the APM Programme Management conference last year, there was a tremendous presentation from one of the grandees of major infrastructure programmes and projects in the UK. He outlined how politics were and have been at the root cause of the degeneration of the UK infrastructure over many generations.

I had always thought of the Victorian era as our golden age. I was disappointed to find out that most of the investment was by entrepreneurs rather than our government, and most of them ended up broke as a result of the altruism.  Therefore, the only people making money out of infrastructure appeared to be the builders.

The golden age of UK infrastructure investment was the 50’s and 60’s – an era pre-dawn of Thatcherism.  That was when big decisions and actions were taken on  motorways, power stations, schools  and infrastructure. It is the period we remember for the demise of railways and not much else, so history has been very unkind to that generation.

It was also an era of nationalised industries and high levels of government controlled investment. Apparently the countries that have the highest levels of infrastructure investment tend to be a little light on the democracy side of things, hence the conclusion that democracy is killing our infrastructure.

By chance I have come across this excellent youtube video which looks at mega project failure and provides an interesting insight by Michael Hobbs into a major tunnel project in Seattle

 

I hope you enjoy it

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Programmes without blueprints are like ships without keels

Clipper Around The World Race, Hawaii start, April 5th 2008Is your programme exhibiting any of these characteristics

  1. Project issues dominate the programme board
  2. Unidentified risks start to materialise a bit too quicky
  3. Benefits are rarely discussed
  4. The BCM lacks authority or purpose
  5. Many uncontrolled or unclear dependencies between projects and other initiatives start to manifest themselves
  6. Decision making is ad-hoc, reactionary or just slow
  7. Stakeholder resistance begins to increase and programme loses support
  8. Programmes either lack momentum or feel like a roller coaster

If that is the case, your programme probably does not have a blueprint, and is probably out of control.

In this article, we liken a programme a yacht and explain how it is not what you see on the surface that is providing the control, it is what happens below the waterline that is important.

If your programme is exhibiting any of these characteristics then this article is for you.

 

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Filed under Aspire Academy, Aspire Accelerate, MSP®, Programme Management

Prosci or APMG Change Management – which one is right for you?

Both APMG Change Management and Prosci offer certification programmes for people seeking to know more about change management. In the recent times, these are increasingly seen as alternatives or competitors and many potential candidates want to know how these offers differ. This white paper written by Chris Moore (Aspire Accelerate Director) and Robert Cole (Managing Director for C4CM), should help you decide which one is right for you.

If you find the article useful – please let us know

 

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Filed under Articles, Aspire Academy, Change Management, Learning, Training

Ever wondered how you become a thought leading company?

Anyone can claim to be at the leading edge of the industry or a thought leader, but not many people back themselves and go into print as authors, even fewer get the backing of one of the world’s leading publishing companies such as The TSO.

Why not check out some of the books that we have written.

Managing Successful Programmes 2011

The lead author was Aspire Europe Managing Director, Rod Sowden and was supported by Geof Leigh, Aspire Assess Director. Together they wrote both the 2007 and 2011 versions of the manual for the OGC and Axelos and helped to establish MSP® as the de facto standard for programme management around the world.

MSP® Survival Guide for Senior Responsible Owners

This was jointly written by Rod Sowden and Nick Carter (one of our lead trainers) who had a significant track record as an SRO himself. It addresses the needs of new SROs who come into an intimidating environment and are expected to take full accountability for what is going on. The book is designed to help them keep their ship steady and navigate it safely to an acceptable destination.

MSP Survival Guide for Business Change Managers

This was the first in the Survival Guide series and the first of the publications intended to enhance the MSP® body of knowledge by focusing on the roles, tasks and techniques of each of the roles. The author was Rod Sowden with support from a number of the Aspire Europe team. The book was published in 2015 and filled in many of the gaps that link MSP® to business change and business architecture environments.

MSP Survival Guide for Programme Managers

This book was written jointly by Rod Sowden and Geof Leigh with support from the internal team. Published in 2016, the book developed a number of the concepts around MSP® and rewrote them for the benefits of programme managers new to MSP® and included large amounts of new materials to help set up programme governance and programme offices.

The Practical Guide to Project Planning

This book was written by Rod Sowden with the help of Tom Ford. It started life as a set of guidance for one of the Aspire Europe customers, developed into a course and finally became a book. It came as a result of P3M3 assessments and spotting a systemic problem with planning  in most organisations.  It is a global epidemic, so we wrote the book to help pull all the threads and concepts together into one practical guide which pulls the best out of many bodies of knowledge from around the world.

Portfolio, Programme and Project Management Maturity Model (P3M3®)

This is the product which changed the industry. From Version 1, the academic framework developed in 2005 to becoming a globally recognised and internationally adopted standard for measuring performance by 2015. Version 2 in 2008 was developed by Rod Sowden as the lead author, and the update released in 2015 had joint lead authorship with Andy Murray (Outperform and PRINCE2® lead author). In addition, Geof Leigh developed large sections of the model, Sam Jenkins was heavily involved in reviewing and testing the new model, Claire Rookes was the project manager and most members of the team were absorbed in some aspect of review and development.

If you can find an organisation that has contributed more to the industry, we are looking forward to finding out who they are.

9237 IBP Stamp_Author WHITE

MSP®,P3M3® and PRINCE2® are [registered] trade marks of AXELOS Limited, used under permission of AXELOS Limited. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Aspire Academy, MSP®, P3M3®

Thameslink – an incredible journey of programme management

ThameslinkLate 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

Thameslink 2

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.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Aspire Academy, Aspire Accelerate, Programme Management

Seven Deadly Sins: Programme Management

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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

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12 October, 2017 · 13:59