Fresh look: Lessons Learned

Fresh Look – Is 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.

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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Fresh Look: Dependency Management

We thought it would be a good idea to revisit some of the guiding principles that underpin the world of portfolio, programme and project management. In a world of information overload it is very easy to lose sight of what matters.

Dependency Management really is one of the Dark Arts. It  about the interfaces between initiatives. At a programme level it is what planning is all about, tracking how the inputs and the outputs of projects fits together. At the portfolio level it is even more complex as it is matching together inputs and outputs from programmes and projects.

In MSP® 2011 we introduced the concepts of Intra, Inter and External dependencies so here is the paper that defined the original concept and explains how they operate in a programme management environment.

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

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Thameslink – the incredible journey

Late 2016, 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.

 

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Fresh Look: Planning

Fresh Look – Is 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 a world of information overload it is very easy to lose  sight of what matters, so this is the first in a series of posts that revisit to remind about some core  concepts so what could be more important than planning

One of the great mysteries of our profession is planning. For most of our clients, project and programme management is all about  having a plan, and yet most of our  professional qualifications don’t actually involve much planning, in fact some of them go out of their way to avoid it like PRINCE2.

So we shouldn’t really be surprised that so many projects run late or go wrong. There is a sequence to events that are needed to bring a good plan together.  In this article we have set out this sequence for you to consider – Planning – back to basics 

Now, if you are really interested in finding out more about planning and how you can improve your performance, check out our book.

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Fresh Look: Vision Statements

Fresh Look – Is 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 a world of information overload, it is very easy to lose sight of what matters, and that makes the  vision even more  important. In this post, we visit the old vision statement chestnut. Everyone loves talking about visions and leadership but when the opportunity comes to put them into practice within a programme environment, quite frankly most of them are about as much use as an umbrella in a wind tunnel. mountain top

In this article, we briefly reflect on a topic that is at the source of most programme failures due to not establishing a vision that people understand and genuinely commit to, is a core source of programme failure.

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Implementing effective change management

Getting change  management to  “bite” is really tough, all the training in the world will not make it happen without providing the energy to gain momentum.  This is an area that we have specialised in and delivered on a number of occasions for clients.

In this case study, we gained one of the prestigious TJ Awards awards for the management training and development programme at Cheshire West and Chester Council.

The Aspire Academy team who delivered the assignment were Robert Cole and David King.

This video outlines how we designed and implemented an approach that pulled together a disparate group of change people across a number of sites into a coherent and functioning organisation.

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Democracy is killing our infrastructure

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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