Project management is like a large castle with many rooms. There are many possible variants to the life cycle and the roles, with a strong foundation. We work with the recognized standards and we add value in specific areas of good practice. Firstly, we emphasise the importance of the business goals and the benefits of a partnering relationship with the sponsor and the client. We recommend a thorough scrutiny of the information available to the project, a systematic and creative approach to project definition, and a collective effort when structuring and planning the project. We also put the emphasis on measurable and testable deliverables that have a direct connection to the project requirments and the business goals. We encourage project managers to be leaders and not just expeditors.
Agile DSDM Atern
ATERN is a dynamic industry standard for agile evelopment that is business driven. It concentrates on strategic goals and incremental delivery of real business benefits while keeping control of cost, risk and quality. Business agility is enabled through the encouragement of self-directed, empowered teams working together in a supportive and collaborative manner.
The DSDM/Atern web site
When Shakespeare wrote “to be or not to be”, he was not thinking of business analysis, and yet every business challenge has a start ‘as-is’ and an end ‘to-be’ point, and at least two alternative courses of action, to either do something or to continue as before. And the biggest challenge is when business as usual is no longer good enough. These decisions are often taken too late. Thus business analysis is more than skilful modelling, creative analysis, inclusive communication and finely-tuned decision-making. It’s about finding economic ways to experiment with new ways of doing business, sometimes termed business models. Business analysis is an opportunity to increase the sensitivity to the drivers of cost and value.
We use templates that allow us to build custom-built case studies that are illustrative of your projects – and it only takes a couple of days. Or, we can write the story of one of your most significant projects so that you can use it as a role model, of what to do, or in some cases of what not to do. Projects are fantastic learning experiences and the case study is a way to craft this learning into a form that can be handed on to future project personnel.
Management games are a way for people to enjoy their learning, while at the same time the learning becomes more memorable. When people think about what has happened and resolve to change the way they behave in the future, then the learning translates into something more permanent. Management games are also great for teamwork, and for discovering what works.
Micro-projects create the heart and soul of a project within a condensed experience. Participants adopt roles to design, plan, build, and test a product on behalf of a client. They manage cost, time and scope, brainstorm and analyze risks, manage the quality, prepare and present a project overview and deliver their product.
Activities and Exercises
These activities and exercises are for all of those occasions when you requir an ice-breaker, or an energizer, or a stimulating exercise to get people thinking and discussing and asking themselves questions; or a teamwork activity or process that takes a group through discovery to decisions together.
Your company event is an annual meeting or a departmental convention. Your organization is in the spotlight. Every cent has to make sense and every penny to pay. Amongst all the presentations, workshops and activities, there are decisions to be made, targets to be aligned and resolutions to be deployed. We can help you to boost your event by carefully selecting and preparing management games, by writing specific case studies based on your own projects, and by setting up workshops that accelerate problem solving, stimulate decision-making and bring you closer to your vital business goals.
The reason for a project kick-off is to build the team. This is usually done with some fun activities to build team spirit and team morale, and some serious teamwork to start the project on the right footing; maybe even get some traction to put momentum into the project. Once things get started, the energy level goes up and you begin to create a pattern of success. However, we believe the most important thing you can do is to actually practise with some of the teamwork and communication tools that will be used on the project. Thus the team gets built in a way that will make the real work environment feel familiar. People use even the most common tools like e-mail and spreadsheets in so many different ways, that you need this shared effort to ensure a coherent and common way of working together.
When decision-makers get together they want to make sense of a complex problem, to explore options and to arrive at the best possible result in a short amount of time.
The decision-making can be rather stultified, unless there has been a deliberate effort to prepare and to structure the process. On the other hand, it can be enlightening, inspiring and stimulating, by presenting information in a form that reveals facts and context that supports the participation of the whole decision-making group.
Learning from experience is one of the most important areas where companies can build a strong project management process. The end of a project is a learning opportunity, but so few projects really seize this opportunity. It requirs the presence of the key stakeholders and there willingness to study the story of the project, comparing what actually happened with what was planned: in particular comparing the risks that were analyzed with the risks that occurred, the estimates with the costs. Furthermore, the organization and structure of the project can provide pointers for the future. The learning process needs to be well prepared and followed up so that the lessons learned can be recycled into future projects.
A step by step analysis and construction of a new process looks and feels very rational and analytical. But, process analysis can be extremely creative. It relies on a very clear definition of the stream of value that should be delivered to customers, and then potentially the improvement of each individual step as well as the optimization of the overall system. A process analysis and enhancement approach has enormous interest in terms of helping the company to agree on what really matters and on the detailed action plan necessary to build a competitive edge.
Team creativity cannot always be called to order. But an awareness of how creativity works can be very helpful: including the boosters and the obstacles. People have different creative styles, and so the workshop should be flexible in order to allow break-out groups and changes of rhythm. An inspiring backdrop, well-researched subject matter, a focused objective create the conditions for success.
Defining the 'Wright' flight prototype
The Wright Brothers are credited with the first manned flight at Kittyhawk in 1903.
Actually, theirs was not the first manned flight. Otto Lilienthal flew over 300 times in the 1890s. Clement Ader flew a full 50 metres in 1890. Sir George Cayley flew a glider in 1853. Chinese, Arabic, Greek, Persian, Indian, Russian, African pioneers are said to have achieved flight imany years before. What the Wright Brothers really achieved was to solve the problem of motorised flight: in other words, they were the first to describe the problem correctly.
For them the problem was not to lift a manned aircraft off the ground, using a powerful engine and a very light framework. The problem is to control the apparatus once it is airborne. The Wright Brothers were originally bicycle makers. They recognized the problem as being one of balance and control. And they built the first wind tunnel, where they could study the performance of the wings under different conditions.
They were able to analyse the situation that had caused the enterprising Otto Lilienthal to crash on his last flight. Other more celebrated engineers mocked the Wright Brothers. The Smithsonian Institute had a budget many times larger. What could bicycle craftsmen working on a shoe-string budget possibly contribute?
When we look back on those pioneering efforts, it is not the Wright Brothers that make us chuckle; it’s the old sepia films of hopelessly optimistic craft with ridiculously light frames collapsing on the runway.
Define the problem correctly, build a prototype, obtain the feedback, identify the source of the problem, and you are on your way to success on your project.
Tanks on parade and users who drink beer
When a tank driver wants a drink, he tends to reach for a beer. You can open a beer bottle with your teeth, but a better way is to crack it open on the ridge of a hard surface.
As the beer bottles in the inside of the tank were opened and consumed, the hard rim around the dashboard degraded. Eventually, entire units had to be replaced. Now, tank drivers are not supposed to consume beers whilst on duty, especially in Middle Eastern countries (yes, it was.) Therefore, you cannot sell a tank with a bottle opener. But, what you can do is to reinforce the metal rim of the dashboard so that you can reduce maintenance costs (it's called "integrated logistics support".) Any beer drinker would recognise its potential.
Tank designers are bound up with specifications on firepower, navigability, manoeuvrability and robustness. But, how many take account of the demands of a parade through the capital city? As an array of thirty tanks advances down the Champs Elysées, each must have its barrel perfectly aligned. Whoever would have thought that a vehicle designed for the heat of combat would have to look so beautiful?
Stand up and stretch to reach the goal
Stand up, reach high with your arms and try to touch the ceiling!
If you are tall enough and if the roof is low, you’ll be able to touch it; or at least you will if you stretch. This is like a stretch goal. Of course, if you have a high roof, you’ll need a chair. And if the ceiling were really high, you’d need two chairs, which might start to wobble, and then you’d really have a stretch goal. Add more chairs and the cord that connects you to reality would break.
Stretch goals are similar. It’s the skill of a maestro to pitch the goal at just the right level to combine 'attainable' with 'ambitious' and 'audacious'. When the Toyota Prius was being developed, the bar was raised more than once during the project. The project end date was brought forward by a year on a four year project. The target for engine power was doubled.
It must have been difficult for the team to believe in these stretch targets. But the sponsor was able to say “I know you can do it, and if you don’t, it will be my responsibility!”
Transversality is the ability to work across functional boundaries, in multi-disciplinary teams and to achieve success on intercultural projects. Studies indicate that the ability of people to communicate across departmental boundaries is closely correlated with business effectiveness. Integrated project teams have been proven to be the leading ‘value improving practice’. The ultimate success factor is a company’s ability to operate effectively by creating unbeatable products and services. The boundaries are barriers. This workshop is preceded by an appraisal of the degree of knowledge and understanding that exists between departments and within a company’s operating structures, including the supply chain. It then proceeds with the exchange of information and the search for areas of future transparency, synergies and synchronisation.
Int√©gration et vulgarisation des m√©thodologies
Pourquoi c’est important
Si vous voulez une méthodologie utilisée efficacement au sein de votre organisation par suffisamment de personnes pour obtenir des résultats, alors il faut la rendre attirante. Il est important que la méthodologie soit comprise et utilisée correctement, mais surtout qu’elle soit attrayante.
Les gens vont prendre la méthodologie au sérieux s’ils la jugent utile, utilisable et agréable à utiliser, sinon ils vont trouver des façons de contourner la démarche sans se l’approprier, ou parfois même de l'ignorer complètement. En d'autres termes, avec une méthodologie le «savoir pourquoi» et «le souci de pourquoi» sont aussi importants que le «savoir quoi» et le «savoir comment».
A notre époque, il y a tant de différentes méthodes, des normes, des cadres et des pratiques qui apportent des véritables améliorations opérationnelles qu'il est très difficile de produire une méthodologie globale pour intégrer de manière adéquate les ingrédients qui doivent cohabiter et qui sont souvent non-alignés du point de vue de la terminologie de base. Et pourtant, chaque approche ajoute de la valeur et a prouvé son utilité dans la pratique.
Ce que nous faisons pour vous
Nous vous aidons à:
- Intégrer des bonnes pratiques dans les projets, les programmes, la gestion des risques, de la qualité, la gestion des services, l'analyse d'affaires, la définition de l'architecture et le développement agile, afin de permettre la cohabitation entre toutes ses pratiques
- Créer une vue globale du processus qui édifie de façon claire et d'une manière attrayante l’objet et l'application des différents outils et modèles dans la méthodologie
- Expliquer les composants, ce qu'ils font, comment les utiliser, pourquoi ils sont importants et comment tout s’harmonise, le fonctionnement des éléments, ceux qui sont indispensables et ceux qui sont facultatifs
- Clarifier les rôles et les responsabilités afin de fournir des perspectives sur le sous-processus et les modèles qui aident les gens à appliquer la méthodologie
Non seulement les gens comprendront le processus, mais ils vont s’approprier le processus, aussi bien les utilisateurs que les développeurs. L'apprentissage sera ainsi plus logique et le processus plus facile à utiliser.
Comment ça marche
Apporter une revue du processus global et les différents éléments – phases, jalons, tâches, outils, rôles, gouvernance – et décrire sa logique de manière schématique, simple et attrayante.
Analyser les sous-processus - la qualité, des risques, la gestion de la configuration, la communication, les indicateurs de performance, la gestion des équipes, la gestion des sous-traitants, les relations avec la clientèle - et illustrer la façon dont ils interviennent dans le processus.
Identifier, clarifier et aligner les pratiques sous-jacentes, les méthodes et les démarches; élucider leurs apports dans la méthodologie (utile pour des raisons opérationnelles et d'audit.)
Editer les documents qui décrivent chaque étape, processus et sous-processus du point de vue des différents rôles et rédiger des directives faciles à utiliser et évidentes à comprendre.
Intégrer ces lignes directrices, les descriptions et les illustrations dans un cours de formation adapté à la culture de votre organisation.
Build on a Business Case
A good Business Case is provocative, politically astute, practical and purposeful. ¬†It enables a group of cooperating individuals to initiate an endeavour and to progress it constructively.
People are always searching for a suitable approach. In fact, there are many different ways to go about it. This document is made up of templates that each address a particular angle on the Business Case. ¬†You'll only need some of them. ¬†And they should help you to improve your checking, thinking, planning and doing.
Here is the document: Build a Business Case Templates
Not all is self-explanatory, and you are welcome to request a version with all explanations:
irstokes @ metanaction . com
Formation en int√©gration organisationnelle de projets agiles
Cette formation est en cours de réalisation. Veuillez nous contacter pour connaître son intérêt et son contenu. Elle prend en compte l'intégration des projets agiles dans le portefeuille de projets, avec les points décisionnels (stage gates ou quality gates), le management de la valeur, la gestion des indicateurs clés de réussite (benefits management) dans les programmes (ensemble de projets interdépendants), la gestion de l'incertitude et des risques, ainsi que des connaissances en psychologie décisionnelle.
Our way of working is Check – Think – Plan – Do – Learn -
Check: ensure that we understand the context, the vision, the goals and the reasons for the next iteration, stage or project
Think: choose the right options for the agreed challenges
Plan: plan the project, stage or iteration around the critical success criteria
Do: deliver, knowing the risks and showing early evidence of achievement
Learn: use the experience to improve for next time
This is a project and decision-making cycle, as opposed to the usual 'production' cycle of PDCA.
See also OODA: Observe - Orient - Decide - Act
Horizontal and Vertical Communication
Horizontal communication or “transversality” entails working across functional boundaries, which means respecting each other’s perspectives, priorities and constraints, and understanding how to achieve synergies and to synchronise work.
Vertical communication requirs transparency and governance in order that actors at different levels refrain as much as possible from hiding information from each other, and instead seek the trust that allow information to flow from source to outlet fluently and fluidly.
The T Skills
Your career skills develop in the form of a T. The bar of the T represents the general skills that you need in order to flourish as a member of a team. The root of the T represents the expert skills that you need to feed your credibility and understanding.
The “Unknown Known”
Usually, we know less than we think we do, individually; and more than we realize, collectively.
Often, information known to someone else - that we don't know - makes the difference between success or failure.
Know and Show
Understand and demonstrate how success is being achieved (or else No Show)
Strong Vision, Flexible Execution
The most successful organisations have a clear idea of their purpose and the value, results and outcomes that they need to achieve; meanwhile they provide a great deal of flexibility with regard to how to go about attaining the vision. Unsuccessful companies do the opposite.
Stoke Energy, Reduce Stress
A project leader ensures that the team works in conditions that stoke energy and reduce stress. The team wants a manager that practices “kick up and kiss down” and not the reverse.
Ask Why, Explain Why
Always clarify and verify the purpose. Explaining why provides motivation and ensures that we know we’re doing the right thing and doing it right.
See also the 5 Whys that help you to get to the heart of a problem.
Say what you’ll do, Do what you said, Say what you did
Whichever method you choose, say what you will do, do what you said and be able to prove what you did. That way you will be irreproachable for an audit; you also have to satisfy the customer, of course.
Quality is in the eye of the Beholder
Quality depends upon the public and the stakeholders for whom you are providing the product or the service. It needs to be measured, planned and built in to the solution with good faith and integrity.
Our Values in Action
1) Familiarity with project management and change management
Project management is an approach with important strategic implications for organisations. Actions are most effective where the deciaion makers are implicated and motivated, not just informed.
2) Experience of managing projects
It is important to apply a pragmatic and operational project or development framework. Managing projects using a goal oriented, team-based and cooperative approach delivers advantages both to the contracting organization and to the client.
3) Experience of competitive, international and high technology industries
Innovation in product development and process improvement can offer significant competitive advantage. Consequently, products, processes and even organizations should be distinctive, fit for purpose and change tolerant.
4) Understanding of the most influential contemporary trends in technology development, business processes and team facilitation
Management methods are evolving quickly and constantly. Knowledge of best practice is more widely diffused than ever from a variety of sources, but special effort and flair is requird to encapsulate this information in a form that can be used in each situation.
5) Emphasis on innovation, imagination and quality of the work environment
Technology can be used to enhance the quality of work. Improving the project management process and speeding up the introduction of technologies develops the skills of each individual as well as building the capabilities of the organization.
6) Service view of quality
When providing a service in a highly competitive business it is not enough to satisfy. Contacts must be customized as well as being positive, productive, and rewarding to all parties. This requirs a flexible and pro-reactive way of working.
7) Creative approach to training
Learning is most effective when it is involves participation and when it appeals to different learning preferences. Activities, simulations, case studies and role-plays engage the participants in different ways and enhance the learning experience.
8) Knowledge of tools and methodologies
Modern project management and systems development processes have adapted to the latest technologies, and vice versa. The tools and methodologies should be accessible and helpful to the teams that are responsible for achieving results on the project.
Two Vital Rules for Business
1) Don't run out of cash; cash is like oxygen to a business and in its absence a business will choke.
2) Satisfy your customers. If you fail in rule one, you’ll fail rule two.
Cost ≤ Price, and Price ≤ Value
It’s easy to forget, but although cost can be greater than price for strategic reasons, price greater than value (to the customer) is not sustainable.
Uncertainty is Costly
Time, complexity and uncertainty generate cost. When uncertainty persists, then the business has to provision contingency that increases the cost of investments and reduces the return on investment.
Measure what is Important
In business as in life the easy measures are not necessarily the most important and the most important not often easy to measure. Nevertheless, unless we are doing art or poetry what is important has to be measured in order to be attainable.
Theory of Constraints
Look for the biggest obstacle, roadblock, show-stopper or constraint. That’s what you have to cure, remove or overcome in order to reach your next business goal.
Business Models and Process
The smallest difference to the way that business is carried out with customers, suppliers, processes or systems can make all of the difference to a business surviving and thriving.
Unique Selling Proposition
There’s something that you do that justifies your business, makes it distinctive and makes it worthwhile to customers, to employees and to other stakeholders. The art of your craft is to know what it is and keep making it better
Commitments, Experiments, Improvements
Committed staff members feel ownership and have a transformational rather than a transactional relationship with their work. Although experiments are necessary and do not always work out, constant improvement and the ability to share learning is a critical contribution.
In this exciting distance game each team must balance trisk and results. ¬†Participants learn how to optimize teamwork at a distance, in order to improve business outcomes and reduce the threats inherent in telecommunication and interpretation of information at a distance. As always, full facilitator instructions are provided.
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This distance game gives practice in managing a team and communicating at a distance, whilst developing and executing a strategy within a context which is emerging and also mutating.¬† Each team must balance the risk and results.¬†
The distance game provides an opportunity to practice teamwork at a distance, to analyse and interpret information, to communicate and make decisions and to develop and exercise a strategy; all at a distance because the participants each work through their PC, using e-mail or messaging to communicate. ¬†¬†
The participants, organized in teams, are in charge of investing in the Asian market for luxury products.¬† Since this is a new market, there are judgements and decisions to be made, based on imcomplete and imperfect information. ¬†The teams are competitive and seek to understand the revenue opportunities offered by the market, whilst managing their investment costs and keeping an eye on the competition. ¬†
This activity is typical of fast-moving and evolving markets which demand constant¬† analysis, frequent reassessment, and excellent communication capabilities; at all levels and all at a distance.
The Art of the Pivot
The art of the pivot is perhaps one of the keys to project innovation. Create an MVP ('Minimum Viable Product') and then assess its interest with customers, who should be pioneers or early adopters, and best of all opinion leaders. The critical suggestion is: 'Would you recommend this product (or service) to a friend or a colleague?"
There will usually be some extra work to do and sometimes a complete 'pivot' in order to tackle the issue (problem, challenge) from a different angle. This is called the 'pivot'. In "Lean Start-Up" Eric Ries lists ten types of pivot. Here they are described using examples from the world of catering.
And further below are also another nine suggested pivot possibilities, inspired by Osterwalder and Prigneur in their famous "Business Model Generation" canvas. And here's some extra comment on "pivoting" from INC magazine.
A single feature becomes the whole product.
There’s no necessity to create the whole product when the main interest is for one feature only. E.g. A restaurant decides to sell just one dish, or type of dish (say, only steaks, or ice-cream, jacket potatoes, hamburgers, sandwiches, pizzas.)
The whole product becomes a single feature
It transpires that customers are interested in much more than the proposed core activity. E.g. A restaurant decides to includ say, an information service, high-bandwidth wi-fi a games area, video games and wii, a meeting room, sleep facility, night club, gym.
The right customers, but not this problem
Customers that have needs have been correctly targeted, but their most important needs are for something else. E.g. Business customers who come to the restaurant are looking for a place to work and negotiate with potential clients; or families who have visited the restaurant would like a place to allow their children to play, or singles are looking for a place to socialize after work.
The right problem, but not for these customers
The problem is interesting and potential solutions are available, from the technological, operational and application viewpoint, but for different customers than those targeted. E.g. A restaurant provides sandwiches for students and then business people visit. A patisserie and delicatessen is set up for families, but it makes a name for itself and becomes a tourist highlight. A restaurant set up for truck drivers near the motorway becomes a stop off for people weary of motorway catering.
High margin, low volume or low margin, high volume
High margin and low volume implies targeting a specific niche, and this could just as well be minimalist as embellished, popular or luxury. For example, sausages have never been perceived as a luxury product, but home cooking, and good ingredients carefully mixed can create high margin for a traditionally ordinary product. Low cost products can be high margin and pay high salaries through maximum standardization for a carefully targeted market. Alternatively, low margin and high volume can convert a high end product into a commodity by identifying ways to create economies of scale.
Platform becomes more important than the product
When selling to a fast developing market with high levels of competition, it may be astute to consolidate a platform and facilities that can be made saleable to other actors in the industry, and to treat them as partners rather than competitors. E.g. A waiter communication from table concept, a standardized preparation base, an automated stock and order system, a prepared food or preservation technology is packaged and licensed.
An intrinsic part of the product and not just a feature
An intrinsic part of the product is one that is fundamental to the product identity and is not just an add-on; the wheels as opposed to the sun roof. However, the satellite navigation function can shift from feature to core of the product if cars are able to drive themselves. E.g. A bio-nutritional and health food approach becomes integral to each and every product and not just offered as an option, as in sugar-light or salt-free. A nutritional food can combine its specific and distinguishing feature of health with tastiness.
Engine of Growth
Sticky, viral or paid
Either development is by recommendation and word of mouth; or repeat sales and loyalty, or by investing in sales and advertising. The restaurant could develop presence on a recognized web site for consumer advice, or create a customer community.
Route to market
The Internet provided alternative routes to market. Leasing can replace purchase, self-assembly can replace pre-fabricated, download can replace rental, or purchase can replace sharing. E.g. The most familiar route to market in catering is a restaurant. However, this could be in many forms such as corporate canteens, meals on wheels, home delivery, night snacks, pub snacks, travel spots such as airports and ships, or something significantly new such as a snack with an inflatable picnic table.
Shift technologies for competitive edge
Product and service breakthroughs can be either customer-pulled or technology-pushed. If customer-pulled, the customer has a definite requirment in urgent need of suitable science or technology. If technology-pushed, the know-how is available and available for application as soon as customers can understand, adapt and apply potential solutions. E.g. in food supply and catering, microwave ovens, food mixers, toasters, chip making machines, coffee machines, pre-prepared meals, new ways to preserve foods, nutritional foods…
Identify partners that can take your offer to another level or a different place
Instead of competing against other players in your field, ally with them, source from them or sell to them. Once the field gets crowded, it may be that an entire new market has developed. You could start sell to competitors the kind of services that you know from experience would be useful. Similarly, competition brings down costs and you could benefit by using the services to extend your offer, to find new customers or to act as a sales umbrella for other companies in the field. E.g. You have a restaurant that partners with other restaurants to provide services or obtain supplies, or with a hotel, a supermarket, a food supplier, a fitted kitchen supplier, a travel agency, another restaurant chain, a sports club…
Identify which activities in your process create and add the most value for customers
It may be any ingredient of the overall product or service that represents the key activity or the highest value added, potentially most important or cherished by customers. It may be the ability to design, manufacture, deliver, support, buy or sell. By asking customers you may be able to identify which activities are most important for them. E.g. In food and drinks preparation, development and customer cultivation, entertainment, education, relaxation, sourcing and outsourcing.
Identify which key competencies, assets, capacity or capabilities are critical to success
The business may have acquired a corner of the market in specific expertise, have access to manufacturing resources, a distribution platform, significant infrastructure, a special location. All of these may give competitive advantage as well as barriers to entry into the market. E.g. The restaurant may employ celebrity chefs, talented entertainers as waiters, nutritional scientists, performers and organizers, coaches, masseurs; or the restaurant may be historic or sited in a unique location.
Identify where value is created and perceived by the customer
An ordinary customer experience can become memorable and even outstanding with the addition of certain touches; just a flourish or something more fundamental. E.g. Decorating restaurants with certain themes, making the kitchen visible, or providing products from natural farming.
Develop relationships with external parties who can provide context, information and support
Consumer guides, local authorities, regulatory bodies, business associations are all examples of relationships that can help a business to develop a network and to spread its wings. E.g. Restaurant and tourist guides, health and safety officers, local authorities...
Develop original, different and appropriate routes to market
The Internet offers an obvious channel, and in fact more than a single channel, because there are many different sub-channels, such as those involving advertising, social networks, membership, e-commerce and micro-payments. Other channels could email, exchange purchase for leasing, self-service for personalized service or vice versa. If car companies offered vehicles for you to assemble on the Internet, or furniture was for rent, the channels would have switched. E.g. A restaurant that allows people to micro-wave prepared food, or to choose the food that is afterwards cooked in a wok, are changing the channel, as are home delivery services and frozen foods.
Change your approach to customers and clients
The entire process of service to customers can be analysed and updated at every step, from when the customer first becomes aware of an offer, to when the product is purchased, delivered, used and recycled. E.g. A restaurant could sell people vouchers at a discount or offer some victuals for free at certain times, allow a free meal for a fourth person. When people can buy as much as they can eat, or that they fit on a plate, the approach has changed. When the food arrives on a conveyor belt, the service concept has changed. And when new technologies are introduced in order to improve the connection between appetite and delivery, then the client experience has been reorganized.
Assess and analyse the cost structure compared to the value model
The cost structure can be improved when the causes of cost are misaligned with customer perceived value. For example, uncooked meat is costly to preserve and may not appeal to consumer tastes. Spices may be expensive to supply and not be entirely appreciated by customers who are not accustomed to hot cuisine. In the other sense, when value that is perceived is not addressed, perhaps an open and visible kitchen, an hors d’oeuvre or a smile on the face of the waiters, are aspects that produce much more value than cost.
Analyse and assess which customers, outlets and locations will contribute to revenues
In retailing, location and outlet is critical. The same can be said for a perceived location, whether it is in terms of a web page or a brand image. The customers contribute to these impressions and are influenced by the decisions that are made. An analysis of customer behaviours and purchasing choices can raise understanding and facilitate the right business choices. For example, the surroundings that may suit a pizza outlet, a burger and beer restaurant or a sushi bar may differ considerably. Even the selection of the words used to describe these places may resonate more or less with the experience that is being promoted.
This leadership instrument consists of a one page easy-to-use summary of a person‚Äôs leadership strengths based on self-assessment of relational-centred, ideas-driven, process-focused and action-oriented leadership styles.¬† Each style is broken down into two lines of five competencies, giving 8 dimensions and 40 competencies in all that form a composite set of project leadership skills.
An individual‚Äôs style of leadership governs how they relate to others when in leadership situations.¬† As leaders we have preferences for certain styles, in certain situations and we strive to adapt and to develop our style in terms of the changes in the situation and the needs of the moment. ¬†
Becoming aware of your own leadership preferences¬† helps¬† you to upon the most suitable approach to adopt, according to the challenges and the opportunities, and the expectations, hopes and aspirations of the people that you will lead.
This leadership instrument is based upon an all-round summary in eight dimensions:
Relational intelligence and people facilitation
Change management and constructive communication
Creative integration and strategic positioning
Clarity of orientation and resolute persistence
The art of leadership is about developing the best possible balance for the situation and the moment.¬†¬†
There are 26 reasons for motivation (or demotivation) in this exercise, A to Z. ¬†Participants choose their favourite six or ten and then compare.
This motivation exercise enables you to explain and to create a discussion about the theory of motivation and how to apply motivational understanding to everyday management.
The exercise develops a distinction between genuine motivators (higher order aspirations) and 'de-motivators' (those elements that cause demotivation when absent.
The exercise also emphasises the range of different motivations that drive people and especially those motivations that are typical of project teams.
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Cathedral builders, stonemasons and stone-cutters
A horse-rider in Medieval Europe, seeing a man chipping a stone by the side of the road - tac tac tac - stops and asks. “Why are you doing that?” “I’m cutting this stone”, says the man, “because I’m a stone-cutter.”
Further on the rider meets another man, chipping away at a stone - tac tac tac. “Why are you doing that?” says the rider to the man. “I’m carving this stone”, says the man, “because I’m a stone-mason. My profession is to craft and carve stones.”
When the rider meets a third man, chipping away - tac tac tac - the rider asks once more: “Why are you doing that?” “I am a sculptor”, says the man, ”We are building that cathedral you see beyond.”
Then the rider says to the man,” When you have finished, please come and join our network. We create, renovate and sustain cathedrals!”
Well, I added that last sentence to the famous old story to remind us there will always be more to think about as we evolve our technologies, design, skills and beliefs. In many ways, perhaps, our management practices are still in the stone age.
Urban rail projects
A few years ago, the principle customer for the manufacturer of trains was the national rail company. Specifications were defined right down to the last nut and bolt. Now a typical customer would be Virgin Rail. “What kind of train would you like Mr Branson?” “Red, no doubt!” In fact, Virgin knows very well the key performance indicators, the elements of customer satisfaction, comfort, punctuality, customer satisfaction, and profitability that it seeks. But, factors such as tunnel size and train design are sub-contracted. Instead of a technical specification, the project is defined in business terms. “Build us the best metro system in the world”, is the customer specification.
All over the world on metro station platforms, screen doors are being installed to improve the passenger experience and increase security. Meanwhile, the trains are often driverless. When the train comes into the station, the doors swish open automatically. The doors are as high as the platform itself. When they were delivered to Hong Kong for installation on the Mass Transit Rail system they were discovered to be too big for the warehouse. Finding a new warehouse in the crowded area of Hong Kong, Kowloon and the New Territories at short notice would be an impossible task. Reluctantly and with some embarrassment they revealed the problem to the customer. “No problem”, he exclaimed, “I can find you another warehouse.” It took less than a day.
One of the metro projects, in an Eastern European city of the European Community, had been described as the “rotten apple” in the portfolio. With an exceptionally ambitious timeline and strict technology transfer and sourcing constraints, the project was already challenged. The fact that the customer is based in one country with its own style of management and the lead supplier in another is an inevitable reality on international projects. Additionally, the train had been designed in one country, was being produced in another, whilst the major equipment suppliers were spread out over several countries. You already have a formula for discord. The project was placed under the spotlight in the form of a case study at the annual corporate meeting.
Two years further on, the “rotten apple” project had become a “role model” project, the best in the whole portfolio. Would it be interesting to know what had happened? A younger but very cosmopolitan project manager was chosen to replace the previous project manager, who had an excellent track record, but without significant international experience. Team members had been empowered both by the project manager and by the executive to circumvent the sourcing protocols in order to recruit partner companies willing to set up a factory in the customer’s homeland. Leadership had been demonstrated at every level in fact, including working right through the summer vacation in order to expedite every last nut and bolt through the local customs office.
In the end what is leadership, but a big heart, bags of belief, the trust that brings engagement and the authority to get the job done?
There are almost as many ways to use plastic drinking straws as a building material as for plastic bricks.¬† Straws are lighter and more flexible.¬† This kit with guidelines and ideas will set you up to create project design, innovation and management sessions that are suitable for all kinds of training and workshop events, both indoors and out of doors.¬†
The Straw Game is just what you need to run a creative micro-project team experience, providing a fun and enjoyable moment whilst practising some real project skills. There are many variants to the straw tower or bridge.¬† And you can run the project in an agile fashion, for design and customer interaction, or as a traditional engineering, procurement and construction project with a contract and a specification.
By using the straws as a construction material you can provide different constraints for logistics, security, fabrication and cost engineering, with sufficient risk, adequate change and occasional incident, and all within a tight deadline, if requird.¬† This set of materials will give you lots of ideas for the preparation and facilitation.¬†
This game is very scalable. Straws are very light to carry around in a suitcase and so you can organise small to large workshops with a few teams of three or four individuals, right up to teams of ten or twelve who integrate their sub-modules and compete with other teams. You could even run a session composed of many hundreds of people.¬†
Project Management Obstacles
Four people in a bar
We find it easier to interpret information that is formatted in a way that plays to our intuition.¬†¬†Our minds are actually quite good at detecting cheats.¬† It's an important survival instinct.¬†¬†This problem is surprisingly difficult until we reduce its abstraction and make it relate to the kind of situation for which we are wired.¬†¬†You'll see it first in¬†its abstract version, and then in¬†its real world example.¬†