Tanner James Blog


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.

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