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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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Supporting Growth and Innovation in Local SMEs. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, September – October 2013

Bringing a global perspective and experiences to a local community

RiverRhee Consulting’s networking and marketing media reflect our different areas of focus: team effectiveness, the Life Sciences, Library and Information management and also SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) in Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire.

Networking and marketing media

This global perspective of our work and experiences is something that we share in the Social Media workshops that we run periodically in the local area.  Our next such workshop will be on Wednesday 9th October in Royston, in conjunction with The Training Manager.

Business development and innovation coaching

As we have mentioned in a previous newsletter, Elisabeth Goodman is now a registered and approved Growth Coach for the GrowthAccelerator.  This means that she can help SMEs to gain access to support and funding for coaching and training to help them to grow and innovate – something that businesses in the Cambridge area especially are not taking as much advantage of as they could.

Do get in touch via elisabeth@riverrhee.com if you would like to find out more about this.

Leadership & Management training

We are delighted to announce that RiverRhee has been appointed to deliver One Nucleus’s 3-day “Introduction to Management” course for leaders and managers in the Life Sciences, the next one of which will be running at Granta Park in Cambridge on the 23rd-25th October.  We are also very pleased to announce that Janet Burton is joining RiverRhee as a new Associate to help us deliver this and other training of this type.

Increasing personal effectiveness

We are continuing to receive interest in our MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and NLP (NeuroLinguisticProgramming) coaching to increase personal effectiveness, and to generally build stronger relationships within teams.  We have been providing this support in one-to-one coaching, small workshops and in team events.

Our latest video, filmed during Elisabeth’s and Lorraine Warne’s “Increasing Personal Effectiveness” summer workshop at the Cambridge Business Lounge, will give you a flavour of what this is about!

Our next workshop on MBTI will be on Tuesday 15th October in Royston, in conjunction with The Training Manager.

RiverRhee Publishing – supporting the local community!

Clients are often curious to know the derivation of our company name.  The river Rhee is one of the lesser-known tributaries of the river Cam.  It runs from the springs at Ashwell and on as far as Harston.  We have a couple of blogs about this on the home page of the RiverRhee Consulting website and have decided to take this local connection further, through our new publishing label, and the release of our first book by local historian Jonathan Spain: The Pilgrimage to our Lady of White hill.

We are also publishing a series of workbooks on themes relating to enhancing team effectiveness, the first of which, on Change Management, will be coming out in November 2013.

The Effective Team's Change Management Workbook

Look out for more details in our next newsletter.

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 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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Learning alliances and the coaching continuum. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, May-June 2013

Giving teams the time, environment and skills to reflect

As Elisabeth Goodman wrote in her recent blog – Feel the fear and do it anyway – our work at RiverRhee Consulting is all about giving teams the right conditions for thinking about their work and dealing with the challenges that have been getting in the way of their productivity and positive morale.

It is a kind of facilitation that sits at whatever point in the coaching continuum, from the most directive, where we are in instructive mode, to the least directive where those that we work with can simply reflect on what they are doing.  And it relies on forming a strong ‘learning alliance’ with our clients, so that we can listen and respond to exactly what they need.

Lorraine Warne and Elisabeth had the opportunity to provide just this form of blended and responsive approach in a recent 1½-day workshop for an EU organisation. Our combination of presentations, interactive discussions and break-out groups enabled the team members to develop fresh personal insights on their communication styles and values, build a stronger team spirit and collectively identify solutions to improve their efficiency and performance.

The teaching end of the continuum

Although our workshops usually combine teaching new skills with opportunities for practice and reflection, we do occasionally put a little more emphasis on the teaching.  John Riddell did just this in a 1½-hour taster on Lean and Six Sigma for people in Abcam, one of our existing client organisations, who had not yet attended one of our 1-day workshops.  We’re hoping they will be amongst those signing up for a further workshop for the client in the autumn. (A full case study of our work with Abcam was included in the June issue of the One Nucleus TrainingNews.)

Mentoring our existing/returning clients

Four years into our business and our list of returning clients is starting to grow.  John and Elisabeth previously introduced a client to Lean and Six Sigma.  Elisabeth has now begun mentoring them as they work their way through the DMAIC approach to define what constitutes value to their customers, and how they can deliver that more efficiently.

Coaching SMEs for business development and innovation

Elisabeth is now a registered and approved GrowthAccelerator coach, which means she can provide “expert, tailored advice to help ambitious businesses achieve rapid, sustainable growth”.  You can find out more about the programme at http://www.growthaccelerator.com

Other forthcoming and recent activities

We have several workshops and seminars coming up during June and July.

Two of these are new collaborations with The Training Manager when Elisabeth will be delivering introductory evening seminars in Royston on Social Media on June 11th, and also on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) on July 4th.

(Elisabeth delivered a presentation on the ROI of Social Media to members of the Cambridge Network during April.)

Also coming up, for the third time, is ‘Getting Better at Everything you do: optimizing the way you work’, with UKeIG, on 19th June in London.

And finally, just to confirm that we are still busy in the Knowledge Management space:

  • John and Elisabeth’s series of KM articles has started to appear in Aslib’s publication (Knowledge Management Surgery – How to get started in Knowledge Management. Managing Information, vol 19 (8), 2012 pp. 54 – 55)
  • And you can view Elisabeth’s presentation Where does information management end, and knowledge management begin? from the APM evening seminar in Birmingham in May.

If you’d like to find out more

Do get in touch if you’d like to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, our range of off-site and in-house workshops, and how we can help you to 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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