Tag Archives: Learning review

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.

P1090047.JPG

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.

Conclusion

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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