Recent

Tags

Archive

Tanner James Blog

This year’s budget process will be totally transformed

John Howarth

On Tuesday 8th May 2018 the Federal Budget will be delivered.  It will be totally transformed, a budget like no other you have seen before.  The delivery will change, the structure will change, the content will change and the impact on departments and agencies from 1 July 2018 will represent a seismic shift in the entire operation of the public service.

Delivery

The most obvious change in this year’s budget is that it will be delivered by The Prime Minister, not The Treasurer.  It has been recognised that The Treasurer is just the bean-counter, providing the resources to make things happen.  People don’t care what government services cost, they want to know what the vision is for the country, and what it means for them.  This information needs to come from the leader of the government, not the accountant.

Structure

There are two major changes to delivery of the budget speech.

Firstly, it will now be divided into two parts: run the country and change the country.  The government has decided to adopt the familiar “run the business, change the business” paradigm from the private sector in order to provide transparency of the difference between staying as we are, and moving to a better future.

Secondly, the budget will be expressed in terms of Key Performance Indicators and Benefits – the former for the “run the country” element, the latter for the “change the country” element.

Content

To support the structural change, the public can expect to see The Prime Minister express KPIs and Benefits in simple, easy-to-understand language with clear measures;  the government will then set-out exactly what it costs to provide and improve these government services.  This will be one of the most noticeable changes – the government won’t simply announce what it is going to spend in a policy area, but rather the emphasis will be placed on what it will deliver in a policy area.

There is also a commitment to plain language and figures in the budget.  No longer will the budget be dominated by obscure fiscal language, and charts on your TV screen that a professional economist has to decipher.  Instead there will be a cleverly presented serries of citizen-centric fact sheets that allow anyone to scan across all areas of government, drill-down into details that interest them, and have this all presented based on their degree of familiarity with the underlying concepts.

Impact on Departments and Agencies

Every single department and agency will update its website from 1st July 2018.  And the difference will be dramatic.  On the top right corner you will be able to select “run” or “change”, and this will present you with an entirely different view.  The “run” selection will closely reflect current websites.  It is the “change” functionality that interests me.  For example, if you have “change” selected and look at Organisation Structure, instead of seeing Groups, Divisions, Branches etc, you will see Programmes, Projects and Teams.  Instead of positions, you’ll see people in roles – SRO, Project Sponsor, Scrum Master etc.  When you look at work plans, you’ll be able to see the major change structures – tranches, stages, sprints and so forth.  These screens are highly visual and will shift dynamically so you can move between the boundaries of different change initiatives, see how the interact, and go and have a loom at the future state and benefits they are working to deliver.  You will also be able to scan across and drill down on progress, issues and risks.

DISCLAIMER

None of this is true, I made it all up over a cup of tea.  But I think it would be nice if it were true.  If you are a politician or public servant who is upset by my little bit of daydreaming, please call me personally on 0407 404 688 or email me at john.howarth@tannerjames.com.au .  I would be very happy to come to meet you, and I’m sure we’ll walk away as friends.

What do you think?

Please feel free to comment on the blog itself or via Linked In.

BUT MY ORGANISATION DOESN’T WORK LIKE THAT!

Ray Ahern

Stepping from the Training Room to the Real World


Tanner James trains and consults in a number of proven, best-practice approaches to programme and project management.

In our training we present models that often represent an “ideal world” and sometimes, when training, I get comments along the lines that ‘implementing these approaches would never (fully) work in my department, because …’


There are many reasons why implementation can be difficult for a middle manager, and there are probably even more ways of breaking through those barriers.  I’ll deal with three that I think are the most common:


Lack of knowledge


It may surprise you but senior executives don’t always know everything!  Many senior executives in Canberra have heard of PRINCE2, Agile and MSP but often their knowledge is patchy and sometimes they can even have strange notions like assuming that these ideas are mutually exclusive.


Fortunately this is the easiest problem to start breaking down.  Tanner James provides expert, targeted Executive Briefings for Senior Executives who find themselves cast into senior project and programme roles.  These briefings are very powerful for starting executives on a knowledge journey and setting them up to start operating effectively in those, often unfamiliar, roles.

Tanner James includes a free Executive Briefing with all in-house courses, but they can be organised separately for any organisation.  As they are typically between 2 and 4 hours duration, they are an effective use of Senior Executive time and money.


Passive resistance


Often Senior Executives, because of their role, will believe they know how to fulfil programme and project roles effectively.  This can make them resistant to new ideas.  In the absence of an Executive Briefing, I typically suggest implementation by ‘stealth’ at first.  That is, the practices in MSP and PRINCE2 (for example) are valuable and applicable in any environment.  Sometimes the answer is to ‘manage upwards’ and provide best-practice examples to those executives.  I’ve often had executives who started out resistant and later become big supporters of best-practice once they’ve seen good examples.


We offer one-hour free support from your trainer for every course participant – perhaps one good use of that would be to seek advice on an example you’ve prepared for the boss.


Active resistance 


Sometimes Senior Executives will actively say things like “we’re not going to use PRINCE2 here”. 

Usually that’s because they’ve had a bad experience, and usually that is with large documents, poorly formed Project or Programme Boards or other amateurish implementation.  Hopefully you’ve come away from your course understanding that using best-practice shouldn’t result in any of these things.


My response to the problem is typically to do the same as I do for more passive resistance but I won’t  reveal the approach I’ve used until after the Executive says something like “hey that was a really good Project Plan”.  Often a good example will run so counter to their previous experiences, that the Executive will seek more information.


Doing a great example may require a more help than the one-hour freebie, but that might be a good place to start your thinking.


Tanner James provides an Implementation Checklist with every Foundation course and includes a free Implementation Workshop with every in-house course so that we can help you work out solutions to whatever problems you’re facing.  

If you’re on one of our courses (or even working with our consultants) and have these nagging doubts, please raise them and we can help you to design an effective solution.  We’re even happy to have a chat if you’re not one of our existing clients.




As an SES officer do you lack confidence in benefits delivery?

John Howarth

 

Last month I wrote a blog alluding to the treatment of benefits as a side order (read here)

I spoke about how some individuals and companies seem to want to make benefits management a black art, and advocated the need to go back to benefits basics.

To me the most important of these basics is to:

Know from the outset who is doing what to ensure benefits are realized

In this blog I will talk about what that means in practice.

What’s the problem?

It is widely accepted in the APS that every project must have a business case that documents the justification for undertaking the project, based on the estimated costs, benefits and risks.  Yet the articulation of benefits for many projects leaves SES officers in governance roles unconvinced and doubtful that the promised benefits will eventuate in practice.

How not to fix it

You are not going to increase confidence in benefits delivery by:

  • Employing a consultant to write a benefits management framework.
  • Engaging a large firm or company to spend months producing benefits documentation that would be sufficient to paper the walls of a good size home.
  • Giving yourself a headache by attempting to translate all benefits into a hard dollar value.
  • Allowing agile to be used as an excuse for not defining any benefits in the first place.
  • Approving funding based on a schedule of deliverables and milestones, then accepting regular reports that everything is on time and within budget.

Three key words: outset, who, what

I always worry when I speak with executives and get told on the one hand “we’ve been going 9 months” but on the other hand “we’ve not defined the benefits yet”.  From the outset you must be able to answer the question “why are we doing this?”  Otherwise it is likely you have a problem looking for a solution on your hands.  Talk to people about what will be improved once they have the new capabilities in place.  Talk.  Don’t allow big documents sent by email or sit through endless PowerPoint deck presentations.  Talk.  Then talk some more.

Who to talk to?  People who live in the real world.  The world which will have to use the new capabilities.  Obviously many government projects impact thousands, sometimes millions, of people.  You can’t talk to all of them.  But you should go out of your way to find the critical ones.  The people who will actually have the “lived experience” when everything has been delivered.

What do the people you are speaking with need to do to ensure benefits delivery?  Ask them.  You will soon find out whether they truly understand – better still desire – the capabilities being delivered.  Benefits don’t realise themselves.  The world is awash with projects that have delivered capabilities that are viewed with outright derision and hostility by people who live in the real world.  That can be avoided if those people are actively engaged in preparing for transition as early as is humanly possible.

If your current project Business Case is simply a vehicle used to secure funding commitment, it’s time to think again – be authentic about the ownership, definition and realisation of benefits.  Have a look at the 2017 edition of the PRINCE2® Manual, which now includes creation of the Benefits Management Approach as part of refining the Business Case, because doing so is a simple way to increase your confidence in benefits delivery.

Want to know more about a simple approach to benefits?

If you would like to know more, please call me personally on 0407 404 688 or email me at john.howarth@tannerjames.com.au .  I would be very happy to come to meet you, answer questions and provide further information.

What do you think?

Please feel free to comment on the blog itself or via Linked In.

Would you like some Benefits with that?

John Howarth

 

“Hello, welcome to the ICT area, may I take your order please?”

          “Hi there, I’d like a large digital transformation, with big data, plenty of agile, and I want it now”

“Would you like some Benefits with that?”

          “Errr, sure, why not – get someone to cook them up and put them in a separate wrapping”

Unfortunately this is a prevalent attitude in Australian government department’s and agencies today.  Does that statement sting?  Read on…

The Black Art of Benefits Management

Unfortunately some people like to make things complicated, and benefits haven’t escaped their clutches.  Sure, there is some considerable thinking behind benefits management.  There is also considerable thinking behind financial management – yet people have no problem with the concept of simple procurement or buying something on a credit card.  However when it comes to benefits, people love to complicate things.

Have you ever experienced any of the following:

  • A consultant who professes to be a benefits management specialist explaining why you don’t understand what benefits are?
  • A large firm or company spending months producing benefits documentation that would be sufficient to paper the walls of a good size home?
  • A corporate area that insists all benefits must be financial and anything can be translated into a hard dollar value?
  • A PMO who have created a template-driven benefits management framework that no-one else can understand?

It really doesn’t need to be this way.

Back to Benefits Basics

A benefit is a measurable improvement resulting from an outcome perceived as an advantage by one or more stakeholders.  In other words, benefits are why you do the project – expressed the way users want, using words they understand.  No clear benefits?  Then don’t embark upon, or continue, the project.

How do you ensure the project stays focussed on benefits?  Create a simple Benefits Management Approach:

  • Check users and business areas really understand and own benefits – that they haven’t just nodded politely in an endless series of externally facilitated workshops.
  • Identify what actions are required to ensure benefits are likely to be achieved.
  • Identify how the realization of each benefit will be measured (and capture the current baseline).
  • Agree the timing of benefits reviews – ideally during the project at stage boundaries.

These words are taken from the 2017 edition of the PRINCE2® Manual, which now includes creation of the Benefits Management Approach as part of refining the Business Case.  So if your current project Business Case is simply a vehicle used to secure funding commitment, it’s time to think again – be authentic about the ownership, definition and realisation of benefits.

Want to know more about a simple approach to benefits?

If you would like to know more, please call me personally on 0407 404 688 or email me at john.howarth@tannerjames.com.au .  I would be very happy to come to meet you, answer questions and provide further information.

What do you think?

Please feel free to comment on the blog itself or via Linked In.

This is what the minister wants

John Howarth

“This is what the Minister wants – that’s the business case”.  I wish I had a dollar for every time a senior public servant has said that to me.  It is almost invariably provided as the explanation as to why the project they are directing doesn’t have a business case.  It is also almost invariably the reason that the project is failing to deliver and the source of increasing executive angst and tensions.

Let’s have a quick look at what is wrong with this thinking – and yes Agile fans, this applies to your projects as well.

“The Minister wants it”

That’s the other way the explanation for a lack of a business case gets expressed:  “The Minister wants it.”    The problem here is what is meant by “it”.  Everything pivots on that.  I am constantly amazed by how people are willing to invest hundreds of days of staff effort, and millions of dollars, often tens of millions of dollars, based on little more than a general understanding that the Minister wants something.

You wouldn’t buy a car like that, you wouldn’t buy a house like that, you pretty much wouldn’t buy anything like that.  You need some basic information which, with apologies to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, confirms whether the project is DVA:

  • desirable:  the balance of costs, benefits and risks
  • viable:  able to deliver the products
  • achievable:  whether use of the products is likely to result in envisaged outcomes and resulting benefits.

“I don’t want to spend months creating a lengthy cost-benefit analysis”

This is also commonly offered as an adjunct:  “The Minister wants it, so I don’t want to spend months creating a lengthy cost-benefit analysis”.  No-one asked you to do so.  This is where I get frustrated with a lack of understanding as to what a business case should or shouldn’t contain.

Benefits do not have to be financial.  For public service projects they often aren’t.  If they aren’t, don’t pretend they are and try to “convert” things into dollar values.  It is artificial, and everyone knows it is.

So what should be in a business case?  A project should:

  • create and maintain a (documented)business justification for the project;
  • review and update the business justification in response to decisions and events that might impact desirability, viability or achievability of the project;
  • define the management actions that will be put in place to ensure that the project’s outcomes are achieved and confirm that the project’s benefits are realized; and
  • define and document the roles and responsibilities for the business case and benefits management.

And that’s all you need as a minimum.  But don’t take my word for it.  These words are taken from the 2017 edition of the PRINCE2® Manual.  So don’t let your corporate PMO give you a twenty-page template and tell you that’s PRINCE2, because it isn’t.

Want to know more about what using PRINCE2 really means?

If you would like to know more, please call me personally on 0407 404 688 or email me at john.howarth@tannerjames.com.au .  I would be very happy to come to meet you, answer questions and provide further information.

What do you think?

Please feel free to comment on the blog itself or via Linked In.

How to stop government projects failing

John Howarth

This blog won’t be for everyone.  If you’re not on a government project, it won’t be for you.  And if you’re working on, or responsible for, a government project that is a raging success, it probably isn’t for you either.  Everyone else can read on.

What I’m going to do is describe a hypothetical government project, and in doing so provide a simple answer to the question “how can I stop a government project from failing?”

A hypothetical government project

“Get going as soon as possible.”
“The Minister wants to see results on this one.”
Right then, you don’t need much more motivation than that to get cracking.

People are engaged left, right, and centre, and the executives aren’t shy about throwing money at this.
In fact, they’ve even engaged procurement specialists just to make sure other resources can be acquired as quickly as possible.
The project has an eclectic workforce:  public servants, a tier one firm and a number of contractors who represent a range of disciplines – enterprise architects, designers, agile specialists and change managers.

Right now everyone is busy pulling together PowerPoint decks that explain the journey ahead from their perspective.
Roles aren’t entirely clear, but everyone is positive, enthusiastic and pulling together as a team.
And working very long hours to make this happen!
“Encourage everyone to work together to pull the papers together by tomorrow.”
“Them and us isn’t the way we work around here.”
“To succeed we must get on with the job and not worry about the details.”
“Think about what the minister needs to know.”
“And use plain English, not technical jargon.”
“Communicate the essentials only.”

To get a major government project moving takes a great deal of energy.
Establish the team and crack on with it.
“Realistic people accept there is never time to plan properly.”
“Plans are fine when you know exactly what needs to be done, but we are in a discovery phase.”
And so it goes on.
Controls are not something anyone is interested in.
It is all about having a can-do attitude.
Is anyone interested in thinking deeply about challenges before initiating action?
That never seems to be the case.
Simple is best.

What’s the answer?

So you’ve read through all that, and it sounds all too familiar.  But have I delivered on my promise to provide a simple answer to the question “how can I stop a government project from failing?
Yes I have.  Just read about the hypothetical government project once more, but this time only read the first word of every sentence…

Want to know more about making your project a success?

If you would like to know more, please call me personally on 0407 404 688 or email me at john.howarth@tannerjames.com.au .  I would be very happy to come to meet you, answer questions and provide further information.

What do you think?

Please feel free to comment on the blog itself or via Linked In.

Avoid elaborate bureaucracy: How to tailor PRINCE2

John Howarth

 

Last month I wrote about one critical feature of the PRINCE2 2017 update – tailoring, and specifically the fact that if you aren’t tailoring PRINCE2 you aren’t using PRINCE2.

My blog really seemed to resonate with people, and I received feedback that many of you working in Canberra departments and agencies feel they are entangled in an elaborate project management bureaucracy.

So this month I thought I’d try to help get you started, or perhaps re-started, with tailoring PRINCE2.  Because PRINCE2 is flexible, can help you structure things, and can unleash your creativity – and yes, this is true for those of you using agile delivery approaches.

A recap on tailoring

Tailoring means adapting a method or process to suit the situation in which it will be used.

PRINCE2 is tailored to suit the project environment, size, complexity, importance, team capability and risk.

Tailoring can be applied to processes, themes, roles, management products and terminology.

The PRINCE2 2017 manual is explicit:  if you are not tailoring, you are not using PRINCE2.  So as of right now, the majority of Canberra departments and agencies are actually no longer using PRINCE2 – food for thought.

Two types of tailoring

The PRINCE2 2017 update makes it clear that PRINCE2 can be tailored to create an organisation’s project management framework, and that framework should be tailored to suit each individual project.

The framework itself should provide guidance on what tailoring is or isn’t permissible by projects.  In my experience this is where the vast majority of departments and agencies go wrong – they don’t provide for project tailoring at all, let alone providing guidance for how to go about tailoring.  Thus projects find themselves being required to rigidly adhere to the project management framework, and unsurprisingly this lack of flexibility results in many feeling they are entangled in an elaborate bureaucracy.

Where to begin

It seems obvious where to begin - sit down and create or update the departmental project management framework, and include some guidance on tailoring, correct?  No.  While starting with the framework is a very common approach, in my view it is the wrong place to begin.  Doing so tends to create theoretical models, enshrined in templates, and so an elaborate bureaucracy is born.

Instead, the correct place to start is with individual projects.  Pick some pilots with different characteristics (complexity, importance, team capability, risk, agile projects, simple projects, projects in a programme, projects involving commercial suppliers etc), and give tailoring a go.

What do I mean “give it a go”?  It is actually very simple:  before you embark upon any of the activities that form part of the PRINCE2 processes, talk about how an activity or set of activities will be undertaken.  The key word here is talk.  Discuss how this is actually going to happen - when, where, how long will it take, with what degree of formality, who will be involved.  This will naturally lead to consideration of how the various elements of PRINCE2 need to be tailored to suit the project.

When you have tried tailoring on a few projects, and have some experience and lessons under your belt, then you can start to encapsulate common themes (pun intended) into your project management framework.

Tailoring takes skill and experience to make the correct judgements, but everyone must start somewhere.  The only place I really don’t think you should start is by building a framework, creating or completing more templates.  As I have said many times before, proper use of PRINCE2 is about thinking, engaging and communicating, it is not about paperwork!

Want to know more about tailoring PRINCE2 2017?

I will be running regular half day workshops about the PRINCE2 2017 update.  For more information or to book please click here to visit our website

If you would like to hear about the update and tailoring personally but are unable to attend one of the information sessions, please call me personally on 0407 404 688 or email me at john.howarth@tannerjames.com.au .  I would be very happy to come to meet you, answer questions and provide further information.

What do you think?

Please feel free to comment on the blog itself or via Linked In.

Bureaucrats beware: if you aren’t tailoring PRINCE2, you aren’t using PRINCE2

John Howarth

Last month I wrote about the PRINCE2 2017 update, in terms of how simplicity and agility replaces complexity and bureaucracy.  This month I would like to look at one critical feature of the PRINCE2 2017 update – tailoring.

By way of introduction I would like to see if the following scenario resonates with any of you working in Canberra departments and agencies…

You attend a PRINCE2 training course.  The method seems great.  You return to your workplace newly enthused with a real clarity about what you need to do to make your project a success.  Being a good corporate citizen, you contact your central PMO and have a look at the project management framework you are required to use.  You have been told it is based on PRINCE2, but the more you look into it the more your heart sinks:

  • It is almost entirely document (template) driven;
  • The PRINCE2 Principles and Themes have been lost;
  • There are additional imposts drawn from all manner of sources;
  • Terminology has been changed all over the place for no apparent reason.

In short, you find yourself entangled in an elaborate bureaucracy.  All thoughts of PRINCE2 being flexible, helping you structure things and unleash your creativity are lost.

How did this happen?

“If the organization does not consider tailoring, it is not using PRINCE2”

This is a direct quote from the PRINCE2 2017 manual.  It is difficult to overstate the significance of what at first sight might seem like a simple statement.

Let’s revisit the “elaborate bureaucracy” scenario in the light of this statement.

How did your department or agency go about tailoring PRINCE2?  What were the drivers and objectives for doing so?  Who was involved?  Did they have the right skills and experience?  What projects types were considered?  Does the framework take account of different delivery approaches, including agile?

Creating a framework is one thing.  Deploying it successfully so that all projects are using it consistently and effectively is another.  What has your department or agency done to encourage widespread use of the framework? Do all those involved in projects have the support they need?

Tailoring is not just about creating a central framework.  Each project manager must then consider what tailoring needs to be done in order to suit the project.  In my experience this is often where problems arise – once a centrally defined framework has been created they are not explicit about how the framework can be tailored to suit each project.  Project Managers feel their hands are tied, because if they do not use “all the templates” then the PMO will be on their back.  And so they resign themselves to operating in an elaborate bureaucracy.

What is tailoring?

Tailoring means adapting a method or process to suit the situation in which it will be used.

PRINCE2 is tailored to suit the project environment, size, complexity, importance, team capability and risk.

Tailoring can be applied to processes, themes, roles, management products and terminology.

The 2017 update features extensive guidance on tailoring, organisational adoption and application in practice.  It explains exactly how the method can be used for agile projects, simple projects, projects in a programme, and projects involving commercial suppliers.

But the bottom-line is this:  if you are not tailoring, you are not using PRINCE2.

Want to know more about tailoring PRINCE2?

I will be running half day workshops in July.  For more information or to book please click here to visit our website

If you would like to hear about the update and tailoring personally but are unable to attend one of the information sessions, please call me personally on 0407 404 688 or email me at john.howarth@tannerjames.com.au .  I would be very happy to come to meet you, answer questions and provide further information.

What do you think?

Please feel free to comment on the blog itself or via Linked In.

The PRINCE2 2017 Update: simplicity and agility replaces complexity and bureaucracy

Carley McHugh

Whether you have had great success with PRINCE2 or have struggled with practical application of the method, the 2017 update offers tremendous potential to improve how your projects are managed.

I personally introduced PRINCE2 to Australia twenty years ago.  Since then some departments and agencies have had great success with PRINCE2; others perceive it as complex and bureaucratic.

This month AXELOS is publishing a new 2017 edition of the PRINCE2 guidance, in addition to updating both the Foundation and Practitioner examinations.  I was a member of the global advisory board that developed the requirements for the update and reviewed the drafts.

The last PRINCE2 update in 2009 made the method more tailorable and scalable.  Nonetheless individuals and organisations took widely differing views about how much of PRINCE2 they needed to implement, and what it should look like in practice.

The 2017 update has clarified these things.

Simplicity not Complexity

Think PRINCE2 is all about process and templates?  Think again.

Here are some quotes from the PRINCE2 2017 manual itself to whet your appetite:

“If PRINCE2 is not tailored, it is unlikely that the project management effort and approach would be appropriate for the needs of the project.”

“Processes may be combined or adapted.”

“Requiring each project manager to work directly from PRINCE2 to create a management approach and controls for each project is wasteful.”

“Reports do not need to be documents.”

“The overarching objective for adopting PRINCE2 should be to improve business performance”.

The 2017 update features extensive guidance on tailoring, organisational adoption and application in practice.  It explains exactly how the method can be used for agile projects, simple projects, projects in a programme, and projects involving commercial suppliers.

Agility not Bureaucracy

PRINCE2 doesn’t work with Agile, because it is waterfall, right?  Wrong.  Very wrong.  PRINCE2 has never been “waterfall”, and so has always been compatible with agile, but the 2017 update explains exactly why.

The 2017 edition of the PRINCE2 Manual contains 125 – yes you read that right – separate references to, and explanations of, projects using an agile approach.

Here are some more direct quotes from the manual:

“Agile has a very strong focus on principles. The Agile Manifesto (2001) and most of the agile frameworks and methods all promote a set of principles in some form.  PRINCE2 principles align with these principles and are complementary to the agile way of working.  Some of the PRINCE2 principles are ‘very much agile’, such as continued business justification, learn from experience, focus on products, manage by stages, and manage by exception; the last being synonymous with giving people autonomy and empowerment.”

“PRINCE2 management stages can be aligned with a series of sprints or releases, introducing management control points to support a fail fast environment.  In situations that have a higher risk or higher uncertainty, the management stages can be of a much shorter duration.”

“Product descriptions (sometimes written as epics or user stories), quality criteria and quality tolerances can be prioritized and decomposed to provide flexibility in what is being delivered.”

“What does ‘fail fast’ mean?  Using timeboxes/sprints in agile delivery enables fast detection of possible failure of products.  This fail fast effect reduces waste of resources and can be a useful learning experience.”

Want to know about the PRINCE2 2017 update?

I will be running free information sessions in early June.  For more information or to book please click here to visit our website

If you would like to hear about the update personally but are unable to attend one of the information sessions, please call me personally on 0407 404 688 or email me at john.howarth@tannerjames.com.au .  I would be very happy to come to meet you, answer questions and provide further information.

What do you think?

Please feel free to comment on the blog itself or via Linked In.

Deaf, Dumb and Digital

John Howarth

 

Digital transformation is great.  The world is being disrupted.  All the best companies are cool, they were only founded in the last few years, and don’t sell actual products.  Social media equals success.  The pace of change will only get faster.

These are the messages coming from the Prime Minister down, and we’re lapping them up.  The government is about to deliver simpler, faster and easier to use services left, right, and centre.  We all know it is coming, we all know how to do it, and we are falling over ourselves to be at the front of the change.  If you’re an SES officer or commercial provider involved in ICT, and you’re not continually spurting out the latest buzzwords and promising the world tomorrow, then you’re a nobody.

So this is all great and exciting right?  Well, I’ll let you into a secret:  it isn’t.

Digital Deafness

Listening seems to be turning into a lost skill.  I mean sitting with someone, face-to-face, paying attention to their words and their expressions.  Being curious.  Seeking to understand.  Not simply waiting for your turn to speak and tell them your view, or fiddling with your mobile phone throughout the conversation.

One-to-one transactions are becoming increasingly infrequent.  And when they occur, they are becoming shorter, truncated and interrupted.

What this means is that a great deal is getting lost in translation.  Does everyone in the APS really understand what The Hon Angus Taylor MP wants from digital transformation?  Do people working on projects really understand the “user stories”?  (Don’t get me wrong, I think it is great that public service teams are attempting to get a grasp on what the users of government services want.  But my own personal experience - for example as a business owner, father of three, and son of two now-deceased parents – is that there is a long way to go.)

Project management suffers the same malaise.  People want to email each other, argue about meaningless labels (“waterfall” “agile”) or talk in jargon, rather than have conversations in plain English about what needs to be done, how, by who, and when, and what practically that will entail.

Digital Dumbness

Having such conversations requires… wait for it… two-way, face-to-face conversation.

Unfortunately, most of us have lost the ability to speak.  We now concentrate our communication energy into impressing the world on social media.  It seems to be the in-thing to post a daily update on Linked In along the lines of “Proud to… {insert bland activity here}”.  If one is unfortunate enough to get trapped in a face-to-face conversation with other humans, it seems best to stand on the side and throw the odd neutral but trendy phrase in.

Whatever happened to speaking our mind?  Tuning in to your emotions, your inner dialogue, and trying to express to others what you are really feeling and thinking in that moment?  People should be comfortable expressing disagreement in a group, but often they aren’t, especially if new trends are involved, or senior executives are in the room.  Who has the courage to sit down quietly with a senior executive and carefully explain to them why what they wish to do might not work?

What has all this got to do with programme and project management?

Everything.  Absolutely everything.  Listening and speaking clearly are at the heart of programme and project management.  You wont be able to transform anything if you are simply deaf, dumb and digital.

Want to get the real conversations happening?

Tanner James is available for short, sharp engagements to help you re-energise the way you manage your programmes and projects – big or small – based on the issues raised in this blog.

If you would like to know more, please call me personally on 0407 404 688 or email me at john.howarth@tannerjames.com.au .  I would be very happy to come to meet you, answer questions and provide further information.

What do you think?

Please feel free to comment on the blog itself or via Linked In.

1 2 3 4 5 .. 8 Next