Businesses over the last 30 years have learned to respond to changing economic climates, competitive pressures and market conditions in large transformational steps. Organisational re-engineering and change management – as well as a number of spin-off approaches – have been developed and refined over this same period to enable this incremental step change approach. Read more

Inspired by the LinkedIn series on Big Ideas 2016, I have devoted my final blog of the year to my perspective on what I believe will be #BigIdeas2016 – Adaptation Management.

Change management has been around as a business process since the 1980s and is so entrenched in our organisational approach that it is now being taught as part of the curriculum in many business schools. Although not solely, a large part of change management principle and practice is focused on the people side of change – managing people’s resistance to the change we are trying to make. The relatively poor success rate of this attempt to “push” change past people’s natural inclination to resist it, has resulted in the perspective where there is a need to lead change so that you “pull” people on the change journey. Read more

A couple of years ago I was asked to participate in a business improvement initiative by one of my contractor clients. The initiative was intended to create better process and structure around their project management systems with a particular focus on project controls. After an initial kick-off meeting which included the executive sponsor, the improvement team met several more times before the momentum faded and the initiative eventually died.

A number of things struck me about this experience. Read more

Projects represent one of the most powerful ways to harness collective human capability. Bringing people together in service of a common set of objectives around a defined scope for a prescribed duration – the very nature of projects – can have a catalysing effect. It can create an environment where engaged and motivated teams thrive. The shared purpose and the tangible goals can allow a team of people to deliver ten-fold more business value than the sum of the individuals. Read more

We tend to think of leadership as something that the head of a group or team provides to those under their charge – direction, inspiration, motivation, vision, and decisive decision-making – a package of skills that managers need to possess if they are to lead people. These traditional leadership activities are what I refer to as “transactional leadership”. Transactional leadership qualities are absolutely necessary and have their time and place but their impact is relatively short-lived and can create a level of dependency on the leader. When a tough decision is required, it is shunted to the project manager; when direction is required, the team look for it to be given rather than forging it for themselves; when inspiration is needed, the team waits for it to come rather than creating it. Read more

In the current complex and dynamic business environment where disruptive forces abound and competition is fierce, it is more important than ever to have a workforce that is engaged and motivated in a way that makes your people the organisation’s competitive advantage. Yet we still consistently see organisations that view their businesses like complicated machines and the people in them as components of the overall machinery. To make this machinery run smoothly – to get people doing what we want them to do when you want them doing it – they believe they need to reward desirable behaviour and punish unwanted behaviour. Read more

Recent events in Australia’s political arena and the carefully crafted speech of the new Prime Minister got me thinking about the similarities in challenges that are presented to a new government and to those of business leaders. In his speech, Malcolm Turnbull spoke of “digital disruption” being Australia’s friend; the need for agility, innovation and creativity in creating a vision of the future; the power of collaborative leadership in making high value decisions; and about the importance of explaining the “why” and “how” of meeting the challenges of tomorrow so that everyone comes on the journey with their leadership. These are all very powerful memes in current, cutting edge management thinking. Read more

Do you have  a project that’s in trouble? Does it seem to get worse despite your best efforts to fix it? Having worked on many distressed projects, I’ve come to realise  that projects that become troubled tend to get worse because of the very actions and mindset that we put in place to correct the course. Read more

I often hear that the key to better project performance is better communication. While I can appreciate this philosophical perspective, I have worked on a number of “troubled” projects where there was no shortage of communication. One might even describe it as quite effective communication in that messages were being delivered loud and clear. However, I believe that the more important enabler of improved performance is effective collaboration – working relationships that result in the desired output or product. Effective collaboration yields strategies that are aimed at providing holistic value to the project. It results in actionable and executable plans. It is the source operational improvements that increase efficiency. Read more

When I think about Value Alignment I am often reminded of the observations that Steven Covey makes in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People; specifically, around Habit Two: Start with the End in Mind. Value is all about starting with (and keeping!) the end in mind as project objectives are established, as decisions are made and as work is executed. Dr. Covey uses the analogy of climbing a ladder to make the distinction between efficiency and effectiveness. He says that moving up the ladder quickly with a minimum of wasted energy is efficiency, but ensuring that the ladder is leaning against the right wall is effectiveness. Read more