A second look at project management. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, November – December 2015

By Elisabeth Goodman, 26th November 2015

Why a second look at project management?

We have been running an introductory course on project management for Library and Information Professionals for a while now, through TFPL. This has just been rebranded as Successful Project Management.

We also include a short module on “Managing Projects, Processes and Problems” in our Introduction to Management course and find just this summary slide very effective to tease out challenges and opportunities for managing projects more effectively.

Project Management summary slide

One slide overview of some of the key components of project management

And our one-day course on project management for those working in science based industries has just been quality assured and approved for addition to our offerings via Cogent Skills.

Many people are expected to lead projects without having received any or very little formal training.  Although there are a lot of in-depth courses available for project managers, we’ve found we can make a big difference with just our one-day overview of the basics.

This newsletter picks up on four aspects of project management that have been cropping up quite regularly in our courses.  It also builds on one of our previous newsletters: Notes for the occasional project manager.

Working in a matrix environment – project charters

Many of the people we work with are both line and project managers.  Or they are managing people who also report to someone else in a matrix environment.


Managers exploring aspects of their responsibilities during RiverRhee’s November 2015 Introduction to Management course

Either way, it can be quite challenging to ensure that project team members have the support from their line managers, and are themselves committed to providing the time and attention that the project leader needs.

Individual project charters are a relatively simple tool that can facilitate conversations between the project leader, individual team members, and relevant line managers to discuss and agree roles, responsibilities and time commitments.

We recognise that project priorities will change, and individuals may be involved in more than one project, but the project charter provides a starting point for facilitating further conversations and agreements.

What to do if the project is not initiated by the project leader; how to influence your business development team

Many of the managers that we work with ‘inherit’ their project from someone else.  Sometimes this is the business development team who liaises directly with the company’s customers.  Or it may be another member of the management team.

The consequence is that the project comes to the project manager with the timelines, budgets, resources already defined.  They are not necessarily realistic, and may not be open to renegotiation.

In the spirit of sharing knowledge and experience, continuous improvement, and learning in general, one approach might be to invite those who initiate projects, such as the business team, to project reviews. That way they can hear first hand what the impact of pre-defined timelines, budgets and resources have been on the project, what happened in practice, and what might be done differently next time.  There is more on learning reviews below.

Learning reviews

How to capture and make optimum use of learnings from projects is a perennial topic of conversation amongst both project and knowledge managers.  Project teams often do not make the time to reflect on how the project went, and to identify what successes they might build on in future projects, as well as what they might do differently.  Where they do capture such learnings, organisations seldom have a mechanism to act on these learnings in their future work.

We recently provided advice, organisation and facilitation for a retrospective learning review workshop for an organisation. The workshop participants identified 21 recommendations to act upon as a result of the learning review.  The organisation will also be adopting a simplified version of the learning review to support all future projects.

Risk management is not just for Health and Safety, nor just for Quality Assurance audits.

There is a lot of cross-over between the different disciplines that we support, as illustrated by a couple of seminars that I have recently co-led for the APM in my capacity as committee member for the Enabling Change Specific Interest Group (SIG).

We introduce our delegates to the FMEA (Failure Mode Effect Analysis) matrix used in Lean and Six Sigma.  It is a variation of risk management tools used in project management, in Health and Safety, and for Quality Assurance audits.

Risk analysis matrix or FMEA

Risk analysis or FMEA matrix

Project teams that take the time to go through this kind of analysis at the start of their projects, can do so with the insights that they and others have learned in previous projects.  Like all project management tools it is one to keep very much alive, constantly referred to and updated throughout the life of the project.

Other news

We also continue to be included in the ‘on demand’ course list for CILIP, and are in fact one of the first CILIP recognised CPD providers.  Our courses with CILIP include:

RiverRhee’s 2016 course and date list for Life Science companies is now available.  It includes the details for our one-day Introduction to Project Management course.

We are in the process of developing half-day versions of “Effective Influencing and Communication” and “Time and Meeting Management” to deliver to a local Life Science company and would be glad to discuss either of these with any one else who might be interested.  We are also able to provide training / coaching in Sales and Marketing.

We have also had expressions of interest for our new half-day “Management Development” workshop which uses the Myers Briggs (MBTI) tool to help participants gain more in-depth insights on their style as a manager and how to interact more effectively with others.  Do get in touch if you would like to join us for this.

Last but not least we could not resist sharing this wonderful testimonial from one of the delegates at our November Introduction to Management course: “I have been on numerous courses and this was by far the best.  Fantastic content, delivery and above all instructors.”

If you would like to find out more

Do get in touch if you would like to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, our range of off-site and in-house workshops, and how we can help you to create exceptional managers, enhance team effectiveness and create an exceptional team.  See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at elisabeth@riverrhee.com.

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Focus on collaboration. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, September – October 2015

By Elisabeth Goodman, 13th October 2015

Why focus on collaboration?

I like to pick a topical theme for these bi-monthly newsletters, and, although the projects that RiverRhee has been engaged in since the summer have been quite a mix, collaboration seems to be a tidy theme to blend them all together.

Collaboration is also the topic I chose for my latest blog (Is it psychobabble? How better understanding can lead to better collaboration).

Finally, the autumn issue for APM’s Project magazine includes a highlighted blog on collaboration, and also an article featuring collaboration as one of three magic words for project management [1]– so they confirmed my choice of theme!

As defined in the APM highlighted blog “Don’t be seduced by the drive to collaborate” (Jim Dale, 6th June 2015) collaboration is: ‘the action of working with someone to produce something’. Whilst Dale’s blog focuses on collaboration (or alliances) between organisations, RiverRhee’s focus is more on how to promote effective collaboration within organisations.

Delegates collaborating during an Introduction to Management course

Delegates collaborating during an Introduction to Management course

The three aspects of collaboration addressed in this newsletter are inspired by:

  • The enthusiasm with which delegates in our Introduction to Management and Supervisor Training courses and Team Effectiveness workshops gain new insights about themselves and the people that they work with
  • The richness of opportunities identified when operational and project teams take the time to carry out team diagnostics or learning reviews to explore how they could work together more effectively
  • The tremendous benefits that teams can gain for example in idea generation, problem resolution, decision making and innovation from the support of a knowledge facilitator

Strength in diversity

When managers recruit new team members, there is a risk that they will recruit very similar people on the premise that this will result in greater team harmony. However, as our delegates learn, a team is enriched by the diversity that their members can bring.

A high performing team is where that diversity is nurtured. It is where the manager, as well as each team member has learnt to understand their own and each other’s strengths, and how they can use these strengths and support each other to collaborate more effectively.

In the past few weeks Janet Burton and I have used role-play based on the Belbin team roles in our Introduction to Management course to help people appreciate how this approach to diversity can enrich the work of their teams. We have also used resources such as OPP’s ‘Flip-a-type-tips’ with delegates in a Team Effectiveness workshop to understand people’s MBTI profiles and how to enrich communication and support colleagues in times of stress.

OPP's MBTI Flip-a-type tip

OPP’s MBTI Flip-a-type tip

I am pleased to say that we have enriched the diversity of our own team by adding Liz Mercer as a RiverRhee Associate. You can find out more about Liz and our other Associates on the “Who we are” page of our website.

Continuous improvement for teams

There are some powerful knowledge management techniques to help teams learn from their experiences and so improve the quality of their collaborations. John Riddell and I helped to design a Learning Retrospect, or Learning Review for one team, which I then facilitated.

A Learning Retrospect is usually carried out at the end of a project, and can last a half-day or longer in a workshop-style environment. It can review the whole history of a project, and is usually more formally structured and facilitated than the more widely known and adopted After Action Review (AAR).

Because of the depth of information to be covered, the questions are typically explored through written as well as verbal dialogue, for instance through the use of a pre-workshop survey, followed by the workshop itself.

Radar diagramme showing the use of a rating scale for a team diagnostic

Radar diagramme showing the use of a rating scale for a team diagnostic

We have found that the use of a rating scale, and portrayal of the results on a radar diagramme, supported by summarized textual comments, to be powerful enablers of in-depth conversations, and productive triggers for recommendations for improving the team’s collaboration.

Knowledge facilitation

Another aspect of knowledge management that John and I have been engaged in is developing “A short module designed to introduce Library and Information Professionals to their potential to foster effective knowledge sharing and collaboration in their organisation.”

This free online course, now available on CILIP’s (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), shows how these “Knowledge Facilitators” can add their subject knowledge and professional skills to those of the team that they are supporting and so enhance the quality of decision making, innovation and other activities arising out of effective collaboration.

Screenshot of our video as part of the CILIP VLE course on 'Adding value as knowledge facilitators'

Screenshot of our video in CILIP’s new VLE course on ‘Adding value as a knowledge facilitator’

The course can be accessed on the CILIP VLE website.


I’ve shared a few ideas about how you might enhance the collaboration within your team. Which of these might you explore? Are there other approaches that you have found can really make a difference to how well you and/or your colleagues collaborate?

About RiverRhee Consulting

RiverRhee Consulting has been delivering training, mainly in the form of workshops, and coaching since 2009.

Subject areas include:

  • Supervisor and management skills.
  • Team building & effectiveness.
  • Operational excellence (Lean and Six Sigma).
  • Change management.
  • Project management.
  • Knowledge management.

We are training providers for several library and information groups such as CILIP, Aslib, TFPL, and for One Nucleus and Cogent Skills.

Do get in touch if you would like to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, our range of off-site and in-house workshops, and how we can help you to create exceptional managers and teams in 2015 and beyond.

Further notes

[1] Clare Belsey. Three magic words. What is the difference between collaboration, interfacing and integration on a construction project? Project, Autumn 2015, pp.64-65

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New opportunities for the Autumn? RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, July – August 2015

By Elisabeth Goodman, 14th August 2015

Summer holidays – a time to think about and try something new?

A place for reflection on holiday

A place and a time for reflection….

July and August are a strange couple of months with colleagues going and coming back from holiday. Work can become fragmented as a consequence, but it can also be a very energising time with a bit of peace and quiet to think about and try something new.

We’ve been doing a bit of the latter, so that I’m using this relatively short newsletter to share some of our thinking about potential new courses and see if any of them might appeal to you.  I’ve also listed the courses that we have scheduled for the Autumn in case you would like to sign up for one of those.

Potential new courses

One of the ways in which we have been developing our thinking is in discussion with other organisations.  So for instance:
RiverRhee, which delivers the Introduction to Management, and Supervisor Training (and other) courses, and Perla Development, which delivers the Leading Virtual Teams course, are considering offering two new courses for One Nucleus members, and would like to gauge your interest in these.

Open Innovation from a Biotech or CRO perspective
Are you considering or already engaged in a collaborative working relationship with Pharma, the NHS, Academia and others? Would you like some guidance on how to do this more effectively? RiverRhee is considering putting together a one- to two- day course to explore the challenges and opportunities of collaboration in an Open Innovation environment.

Topics could include:
• What is Open Innovation, why do it? Developing a definition for your organisation
• Exploring case studies from other organisations
• Developing a strategy / roadmap for your organisation
• Identifying and addressing challenges, best practices and opportunities (organisational, cultural, technological, IP etc.)
• Developing individual action plans

Trainers and facilitators would include subject matter experts with direct experience of the various aspects of the course. Please contact Elisabeth Goodman (elisabeth@riverrhee.com, 07876 130 817) if you would be interested in participating as a delegate, or as a trainer/facilitator.

Management Development Workshop – deepening your management skills
Have you had some training in, or experience of, management and would like to explore ways to deepen your skills? Would you like to understand your strengths and potential blind spots better and use them to greater effect in your interaction with others?

As a manager and leader in your organisation it’s sometimes hard to deliver your team goals effectively. Successfully getting work done through others, effecting the change you want to make and influencing those above you takes self-awareness, self-management and an ability to maintain effective working relationships – the core elements of Emotional Intelligence.

“The rules for work are changing. We’re being judged by a new yard-stick: not just by how smart we are, or by our training and expertise, but also by how well we handle ourselves and each other” – Daniel Goleman: Working with Emotional Intelligence

Using the Myers Briggs Type Indicator as a platform for considering your work style, this half day workshop would create new insights on how to build on your natural style as a manager and work on steps to help you interact more effectively with others.

Have you recently attended the RiverRhee Introduction to Management or Supervisor Training courses, or have you been a manager for a while now and want to make a step change in your performance?

Do get in touch with either Elisabeth Goodman (elisabeth@riverrhee.com, 07876 130 817), or Liz Mercer (liz@perladevelopment.co.uk, 07825 229686).

The workshop could also be run within a single organisation for a group of interested managers.

Are you experiencing anxiety as the result of change in the workplace?  Is this affecting the quality of your work, or preventing you from achieving your targets?  Would you like to be feeling calm and in control of any change in your workplace? 

Managing and Dealing with Change
RiverRhee already runs a full-day course on Managing Change for business leaders, project managers and line managers which draws on a full range of behavioural and procedural concepts and techniques in a participative and practical way, to equip participants with the necessary skills and tools for effective business change.

If you are looking for something that will go deeper, and feel that you would like to address the anxiety that is affecting your ability to deliver, you may be interested in our proposed additional half-day course on Dealing with change. The course, which will also be available in-house and on a one-to-one basis, will help you to:

  • Understand the nature, root cause and triggers of your anxious responses to change
  • Access resources and solutions that will help you to address that anxiety
  • Begin to practise and embed your new responses to change

If you would like to enquire about our new Dealing with change course, please get in touch with Elisabeth Goodman (elisabeth@riverrhee.com, 07876 130 817).

Other courses available to you in the Autumn

We’ve been getting some wonderful feedback on our courses, and recently included the following testimonials in the publicity that we circulated for an exhibition stand at the Babraham Research Campus in Cambridge.

“The two trainers were brilliant. Very knowledgeable, fun, engaging and I would recommend this course to any managers.”

“The atmosphere of the course was fantastic and the course content covered all the areas I needed help on. The one-to-one coaching session was especially helpful.”

“I thoroughly enjoyed the course, certainly an eye-opener – both trainers incredibly knowledgeable and very easy to listen to!! Thank you! P.S. Will highly recommend.”

If you would like to access similarly positive experiences, then you might like to consider one of our courses that have been scheduled for the Autumn – details of which are available through the RiverRhee Consulting website.

  • Introduction to Management (3-day course) – 22nd – 24th September
  • Managing Change (1-day course) – 12th October
  • Introduction to Lean and Six Sigma (1-day course) – 2nd November

Other courses that are available on demand include:

  • Building Highly Effective Teams
  • Supervisor Training
  • Conducting Effective Performance Reviews and Appraisals
  • Effective Project Planning and Management
  • Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
  • Belbin Team Roles

Happy Holidays if you are just about to go – welcome back and I hope you are feeling refreshed if you have just come back!

About RiverRhee Consulting

RiverRhee Consulting has been delivering training, mainly in the form of workshops, and coaching since 2009.

Subject areas include:

  • Supervisor and management skills.
  • Team building & effectiveness.
  • Operational excellence (Lean and Six Sigma).
  • Change management.
  • Project management.
  • Knowledge management.

We are training providers for several library and information groups such as CILIP, Aslib, TFPL.  Discounts are available for One Nucleus members, and through the Cogent Skills, Skills for Growth programme.

Do get in touch if you would like to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, our range of off-site and in-house workshops, and how we can help you to create exceptional managers and teams in 2015 and beyond.

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The curious learner. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, May-June 2015

By Elisabeth Goodman, 13th June, 2015

Why be a “curious learner”?

I have just come back from an invigorating visit to Belgium and the annual awards ceremony for the students of the British School of Brussels (BSB), my ex-school and one that my father, Mike Goodman, was a co-founder of.  The school’s motto is “Learning together, inspiring success” and both the Principal of the school Sue Woodroofe, and the attending BSB Trustee, Belgian Minister of State Mark Eyskens, helped to drive this message home.

Leuven University Library

Leuven University Library – BSB students are presented with their annual awards in the nearby University hall.

The second influence for this newsletter’s theme actually came a few days earlier in the form of an article in The Observer of 7th June by Ian Leslie, author of “Curious: The Desire to Know and Why your Future Depends on it”. This is where I came across the phrase “curious learner”. Leslie’s observations on the importance of enquiring minds and continuous learning to create the intellectual capital that is crucial to today’s innovative world really struck a chord.

So what is the connection with RiverRhee Consulting?

We at RiverRhee are continuously developing our own knowledge

Sue Woodroofe suggested that the purpose of learning should not just be one of imparting knowledge, but of giving students the means to develop their wisdom! Ian Leslie suggested that we should be helping students to become not only specialists (suited for specific jobs) but also generalists, with a curiosity that enables them to span many disciplines; echoes perhaps of the likes of Leonardo de Vinci and the Renaissance man, but also of successful modern day managers and entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs and Richard Branson.

We are striving for something like this in developing our own knowledge at RiverRhee, continuously learning about new areas that will bring novelty and added depth to all of our offerings for enhancing team effectiveness and for creating exceptional managers and teams.

So for instance I attended the first of what I hope will be many more workshops with David Hall from The Ideas Centre to enrich how we facilitate workshops (see Facilitation – some new ideas) in general, and also approaches to continuous improvement in our Introduction to Lean Sigma training.

Using lego with The Ideas Centre for solution development

Using lego with The Ideas Centre for solution development

I have been exploring Motivational Maps with Joy Bemrose of Winning Workplace (this is also something that our Associate Lorraine Warne can also support) as something additional to share in our Supervisor Training and Introduction to Management courses. How to motivate their direct reports is something that our delegates often flag as a particular challenge.

Janet Burton and I are always looking for ways to deliver greater value to the delegates in our Introduction to Management course. The feedback that we receive is invaluable for this, but we are also going to pilot a new approach in next week’s course: inviting a guest speaker to lead a 30 minute slot on a new topic that we believe will be of interest. Next week’s guest is Jacqui Watson of SymplyChange Ltd, speaking on Transactional Analysis as an additional resource for dealing with difficult situations. We are open to suggestions as to what will appear in September’s course.

I have been working with another of our Associates, Margie Gardiner to develop some further content, in response to a customer’s request, for our Introduction to Lean Sigma course. Like many approaches to Lean and Six Sigma, ‘5S’ (Sort, Store, Shine, Standardise, Sustain) provides a relatively simple but structured approach for better organising and streamlining our work, and thereby make better use of our time and resources. This added content will also appear in my latest workbook “The Effective Team’s Operational Excellence Workbook” that will be coming out shortly.

Other ways in which we help our clients to be curious learners

Our ideal clients are those who come to us because they have a desire to learn some new principles and tools that will enable them to address their challenges at work. So we take an “action learning” approach to our workshops, and in our coaching and consulting. Our clients bring their challenges. We teach them some approaches. They apply the approaches and gain new knowledge and skills, as well as real solutions to their challenges.

People come to us as curious learners, and hopefully they continue as such beyond their interactions with us.

So our management workshops are very interactive, as shown in our latest RiverRhee Consulting: Management Workshops video.

An interactive exercise in our Introduction to Management course

An interactive exercise in our Introduction to Management course

As delegates to our November Introduction to Lean Sigma course will discover this topic is all about stimulating continuous learning for continuous improvement.

John Riddell’s and my upcoming conference ‘master class’ at CILIP’s 2015 conference will be promoting “learning before, during and after” to enable library and information professionals to act as ‘knowledge facilitators’ in their organisations.

Last but not least, October’s Managing Change course will continue to encourages those working in Life Science based organisations to learn to understand those affected by the change in order to more effectively deliver change programmes. In fact I was interested to hear Belgian Minister of State Mark Eyskens’ assertion that our general understanding of cognitive behaviour i.e. how we all think and operate, lags far behind many other branches of our knowledge. No wonder that their own and other’s behavioural reactions to change is the aspect that so many leaders of change find the most challenging!

Time to have some more conversations with Lorraine Warne on how NLP is an “instruction manual for the mind”.  We can learn a lot from personality tools such as MBTI and Belbin Team Roles too as per this recent testimonial from one of our clients: “I’m sure I speak for all of the team when I say how informative and valuable yesterday’s [Belbin Team Roles] session was.  I know that we will be able to use this new-found knowledge to grow stronger individually, as a team and as a business – thank you.”

Closing thoughts

I continue to do voluntary work as a Trustee with The Red Balloon Learner Centre in Cambridge, and have also recently become involved as a volunteer assisting the Cambridge Area 14-19 Partnership.  It is extremely rewarding to contribute to young people’s learning in this way and to gain a window into their world which is so insightful for our own approach to work and life in general.

I’d like to finish by quoting another article, this time in the Observer Magazine of 7th June, with Stephen Mangan who said: “I’d like my kids to know that everyone’s making it up as they go along. You want to find that balance between self-confidence and arrogance, and an ability to enjoy the moment versus an ambition to improve.” I might suggest replacing the word “arrogance” with “humility” and insert ‘by being a curious learner” before the final full stop. I certainly agree that we should have fun and enjoy our continuous improvement journey!

About RiverRhee Consulting

RiverRhee Consulting has been delivering training, mainly in the form of workshops, and coaching since 2009.

Subject areas include:

  • Supervisor and management skills.
  • Team building & effectiveness.
  • Operational excellence (Lean and Six Sigma).
  • Change management.
  • Project management.
  • Knowledge management.

We are training providers for several library and information groups such as CILIP, Aslib, TFPL.  Discounts are available for One Nucleus members, and through the Cogent Skills, Skills for Growth programme.

Do get in touch if you would like to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, our range of off-site and in-house workshops, and how we can help you to create exceptional managers and teams in 2015 and beyond.

Elisabeth Goodman receiving the Cogent Skills Assured Training Provider certificate on behalf of RiverRhee Consulting

Elisabeth Goodman receiving the Cogent Skills Assured Training Provider certificate in May, on behalf of RiverRhee Consulting

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Taking time to think differently. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, March – April 2015

By Elisabeth Goodman, 16th April 2015

“I would just like to reiterate that these last three days have been great, and gave me a lot of ideas and things to explore further. You make a great team, and have been amazingly welcoming to all of us!”  Quote from a delegate at our March Introduction to Management course.

An important aspect of our training courses and workshops, and one that our customers repeatedly cite in their feedback, is the time that we give them to think about their work, and the strategies and tools to explore how they could go about it differently.

Delegates reflecting during an Introduction to Management course

Delegates reflecting during an Introduction to Management course

As you are kindly taking the time to read this newsletter, we thought we would share with you five ways in which you too might like to think differently.

Treat problems (as well as opportunities) as treasures

One of our mantras in our Introduction to Lean and Six Sigma course, is to recognise that everything that we do is potentially very complex: a web of interaction between the people, the processes and the environment involved.

This complexity requires continuous study and improvement, so that we could regard every problem and opportunity that we find as a “treasure” that will help us to reduce the future need for fire fighting and associated stress. Delegates in our courses search for all the ways in which they might be wasting time, money and the talent of their staff, and what they could do to address this.

So, if you are not doing so already, you too could adopt a mind-set to look out for and welcome these treasures.

People who seem difficult may just be being different

We have mentioned this in one of our previous newsletters on creating exceptional managers, but make no apology for mentioning it again as it is a popular topic for discussion in our Supervisor Training and Introduction to Management courses. I have also written a full blog on how difficult people are not necessarily being difficult. The key aspects to bear in mind seem to be:

  • Recognise that people with different personality types will approach their work and communicate differently
  • Have conversations to understand each other’s perspective rather than making assumptions about why people are behaving in a certain way
  • Be assertive rather than aggressive or passive in your interactions with others

Welcome resistance rather than treating it as something to be dealt with or dreaded

Resistance still seems to be one of the major aspects that those leading change programmes worry about.  So it was good to hear Rod Willis during the recent APM Enabling Change SIG’s “Great Change Debate” echo our perspective that leaders should listen to resistance and consider what they might have missed in their planning.

We encourage delegates in our Managing Change course to engage their stakeholders in conversation so that they can discover what people might be worrying about in relation to a change and take action accordingly.

Adopting this mind-set will help you to improve your change strategies and to communicate with people more effectively. This approach is also one that I document in “The Effective Team’s Change Management Workbook”.

Work with your stakeholders to develop risk management plans

We include a brief overview on Project Management in our Supervisor Training and Introduction to Management courses. We also cover it more fully in our 1-day course on Project Management, which we have been delivering for Library and Information Managers through TFPL but can also customise for other clients. An aspect that practising project managers don’t always apply to the full is that of risk management.

Yet, as delegates discussed at a recent PIPMG (Pharmaceutical Industry Project Management Group) meeting on the work of CROs (Contract Research Organisations), taking time at the start of a project to consider all the potential risks and opportunities is a powerful way to build on the participants’ experiences from previous projects.

For CROs, and indeed for anyone delivering a product or service, it is a great way to engage in constructive up-front conversations with stakeholders about what might impact the timing, cost or quality of what you are delivering, and what actions you might take as a consequence.

Remember to think about what is working well!

Throughout this newsletter, we have encouraged you to think about opportunities as well as problems! If you have not yet come across Appreciative Inquiry, you might want to explore this further. It is a discipline that focuses on exploring successes and what is working well, how these have come about, and how they can be built upon.

For those of us who have a tendency to dwell on problems, focusing on what is going well instead can be an uplifting as well as a productive alternative way of thinking.

Upcoming courses and events

We hope you have enjoyed this newsletter.  If you would like more opportunities to take time to think differently, do consider joining us for one of our courses or events.

Details about all of these can be found on the RiverRhee Consulting website.

Here is what is coming up in the next few months:

If you would like to find out more

Do get in touch if you would like to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, our range of off-site and in-house workshops, and how we can help you to create exceptional managers and teams in 2015.  See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at elisabeth@riverrhee.com.


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Building your team in 2015. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, January – February 2015

By RiverRhee Consulting, 2nd February 2015

We’ve had a busy start to the year delivering in-house training on management skills and performance reviews, and Janet Burton and Elisabeth Goodman are looking forward to delivering our popular “Introduction to Management” open access course in Melbourn (UK) in March. Details of this and other upcoming courses can be found at the end of this newsletter, or on the RiverRhee Consulting website.

We also like to add new skills to our portfolio each year, and thanks to Elisabeth’s recent accreditation, can now add the Belbin Team Roles alongside MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator), and NLP (NeuroLinguisticProgramming). These tools can be very powerful not only to help us understand our individual strengths and make better use of them, but also to foster stronger relationships and communication both within and outside the team.

Whilst white water rafting may be one approach to building your team, it’s not the one that everyone would choose.  We thought we’d devote this newsletter to exploring how you could use personality tools and other approaches to engage your team members in building your team in 2015.

Using personality tools to develop the team

There is a whole host of tools available to help us better understand our own and other’s strengths, and so plan how we can make better use of these strengths to build stronger relationships and improved communication within a team.

Some people are concerned about the risk of being ‘put in boxes’, but it is the individual’s choice to share their profile or not. At any rate, we can all choose to and do behave differently from our profiles, and we can and do learn skills in areas that are not our natural strengths.

As accredited practitioners, RiverRhee Associates can help your team explore the ethical and constructive use of such tools as Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator), and NLP (NeuroLinguisticProgramming) for developing your team.

MBTI summary slide

MBTI summary slide


Defining a common team purpose and goals

Strong teams don’t just rely on good working relationships. They are also aligned around a clear team purpose and goals: the ‘why’ and the ‘what’ of their day-to-day existence. Having common values will also enable team members to work together more effectively and so become a high performance team.

As Elisabeth describes in Chapter 3 of her recently published “The Effective Team’s High Performance Workbook”, “a team’s vision sets out what it aspires to do. It is a futuristic statement .. [that] is meant to inspire the team and attract its stakeholders to do business with it.” So a team might have a vision something like this: “we are recognised as a centre of excellence in what we do. Our peers consult us as a role model for how they too can excel in their work.”

The Effective Team's High Performance Workbook, RiverRhee Publishing, 2014

The Effective Team’s High Performance Workbook, RiverRhee Publishing, 2014

As for goals, the ideal is to have a cascade from the organisation’s objectives, through to those of each department and team and hence to the individual: a joined up approach that not all organisations that we work with find easy to achieve.

Finally, as also described in the book, “values represent how we go about our work: how we see ourselves, what we would like others to hear about us, what we feel is important.” These values might include expertise in the team’s area of work, being attentive and responsive to customers, or always behaving with integrity. Team building events are a good opportunity for people to share what values they care about, and which ones they could align themselves around as a team.

Identifying and agreeing opportunities to enhance working practices

Team building events are also a golden opportunity to review working practices, and to engage everyone in how these could be improved. As external facilitators, we help people to articulate what could be improved, and how, if needs be anonymously. We collate all of the suggestions for improvement, as well as confirmation of what is working well, and so facilitate constructive discussions during the team building event.

Areas covered in past events have included internal communication, clarity of roles, managing workloads, meeting management and more. Again, a full list of potential working practices to explore, along with suggestions for the pre-workshop diagnostic, can be found in “The Effective Team’s High Performance Workbook”.

Upcoming courses and events

We are delighted that John Riddell and Elisabeth Goodman’s application to present a masterclass on “How to add value to your organisation as a ‘knowledge facilitator’” at CILIP’s 2015 conference has just been accepted. This interactive session will give us an opportunity to share and explore insights from our book: “Knowledge Management in the Pharmaceutical Industry”, Gower, 2014 and more!

Details of all our upcoming courses and events are kept up-to-date on the RiverRhee Consulting website. Here is what is coming up in the next few months:

  • Managing Change (with One Nucleus and Cogent) – 23rd February, Melbourn (UK)
  • Elisabeth Goodman will be co-presenting at the APM Midlands branch event – How to keep programmes on track and teams inspired during periods of change, 24th February, Nottingham
  • Introduction to Management (with One Nucleus and Cogent ) – 17th-19th March, Melbourn (UK)
  • Effective Project Planning and Management(with TFPL) – 23rd April, London
  • Introduction to Lean and Six Sigma (with One Nucleus and Cogent), 27th April, Melbourn (UK)

If you would like to find out more

Do get in touch if you would like to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, our range of off-site and in-house workshops, and how we can help you to create exceptional managers and teams in 2015.  See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at elisabeth@riverrhee.com.


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Looking back on 2014 and forward to 2015. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, November – December 2014

RiverRhee Consulting, 11th December 2014


December is traditionally a time when many of us reflect on our achievements, what we have learned and what we can look forward to in the coming year.

2014 has been our most active and varied year so far, in the just over five years of RiverRhee’s existence. We thought we would share a little about our achievements and our learning, and several things that might be of interest to you in 2015 under the headings:

  • Developing management and interpersonal skills
  • Managing and dealing with change
  • Continuous improvement
  • Knowledge management
  • Strategy facilitation
  • Upcoming courses

Developing management and interpersonal skills is an important area for growing SMEs as well as larger organisations

Interest in Elisabeth Goodman’s and Janet Burton’s off-site courses and customised in-house training and coaching for new managers and supervisors has really taken off in 2014. Our client base for management related skills is continuing to expand with bookings for January through to March 2015.

Delegates at our Introduction to Management course, September 2014

Delegates at our Introduction to Management course, September 2014

We have learnt that some SMEs can spare the time for people to attend our off-site 3-day Introduction to Management course and really appreciate the opportunity to network with and learn from colleagues from other companies.

Equally important though, is our ability to customise our Supervisor Training course so that the content and duration match what other clients would prefer to have delivered in-house. Elisabeth and Janet ran one such course for Red Balloon, Cambridge and subsequently shared the experience in the blog “There will never be enough time

Sometimes our support takes the form of short coaching sessions with individual managers – we did some of this in 2014, and are due to do more in 2015.

How to enhance team effectiveness is one of the topics included in supervisor and management training, and Elisabeth recently published “The Effective Team’s High Performance Workbook”, now available through Amazon as well as through the RiverRhee publishing page.

We’ve also found that SMEs appreciate the help we can give them in reviewing and rolling out improved performance review and appraisal processes . And we have used Elisabeth’s and Lorraine Warne’s skills in MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and NLP (NeuroLinguisticProgramming) to help individuals understand their strengths and enhance their interpersonal skills.

Managing and dealing with change is a big topic of interest

We have run workshops and delivered seminars on the subject of change for Library and Information organisations (CILIP, UKeIG, Health Libraries Group), and at Project Management (APM) events in 2014 (see for example “Common factors for managing successful change“).

Changing the way we change - APM event at GSK June 2014

Changing the way we change – APM event at GSK June 2014

This subject continues to be something that people would like more help with, so that they can make change happen in a more positive and effective way.

We have introduced a new off-site course on Managing Change for Life Science organisations in 2015 and look forward to finding out how popular this will be.

Elisabeth Goodman became the ‘pillar lead’ for Capabilities and Methods in the APM Enabling Change SIG, and this is already giving her access to new knowledge to bring into our work with clients. We also recently heard that Elisabeth’s jointly authored article with Lucy Loh’s “Organizational Change: A Critical Challenge for Team Effectiveness” is to be included in a collection of such articles in an academic work entitled “Change Leadership” edited by Colette Dumas and Richard H. Beinecke which will be published by SAGE Publications in May 2015.

There continues to be an appetite for continuous improvement

We have continued to run in-house courses on Lean and Six Sigma, and are now offering this also as an off-site course in 2015. In fact, this is one of three courses (the other two being Introduction to Management, and Managing Change) that we are now accredited to deliver through Cogent as another source of potential subsidised funding for SMEs. (Elisabeth also continues to be a registered coach and trainer with the GrowthAccelerator programme and organised a fairly well attended free event with them at Babraham Science Park in the summer.)

We delivered a half-day version of the Lean and Six Sigma course as one of two seminars with Janet Burton for the Herts Chamber of Commerce, and there are prospects of delivering more of these in 2015.

We facilitated some in-house continuous improvement with an academic organisation during 2014, and a few of the delegates who visited our stand at One Nucleus’ recent Genesis event also expressed interest to Sue Parkins and John Riddell in potential support from us in this area in 2015.

(By the way, Sue joined our team of associates during 2014, along with Paul Hadland, Rose Bolton and Margie Gardiner.  We shared a little more about the team under the theme of “What motivates us in our work“.)

Look out for Elisabeth’s next book on the topic of continuous improvement in 2015: “The Effective Team’s Operational Excellence Workbook”.

Our work in knowledge management has picked up some new momentum

The big news was the publication of Elisabeth and John’s book with Gower “Knowledge Management in the Pharmaceutical Industry” at the end of August. An immediate outcome was that we were invited to give an “inspiring” talk to help a Pharmaceutical company develop its knowledge management strategy.

Knowledge Management in the Pharmaceutical Industry, by Elisabeth Goodman and John Riddell

Knowledge Management in the Pharmaceutical Industry, by Elisabeth Goodman and John Riddell

Elisabeth also delivered a session on Knowledge Management to IMPI earlier in the year on behalf of TFPL, and worked with the Open University Library Services to carry out an audit and facilitate a stakeholder workshop for their metadata project.

Our strategy facilitation skills have been in demand

We returned to the EU organisation that Elisabeth and Lorraine Warne had worked with in 2013 to help them shape their forward strategy.

We called in another independent consultant, Janette Thomas, at the start of the year to help us with a strategic workshop with a health research organisation.

And Elisabeth has been working with a government organisation to facilitate a workshop and a focus group to help shape one of their strategies.

Upcoming courses

Details of our upcoming courses and events are kept up-to-date on our website. Here is what the list is looking like at the moment:

If you would like to find out more

Do get in touch if you would like to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, our range of off-site and in-house workshops, and how we can help you to create exceptional managers and teams in 2015.  See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at elisabeth@riverrhee.com.

Meanwhile, we wish you a healthy and happy end of year and start to 2015…


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