Sunday, 21 December 2008

2009 - New Year Business Resolutions

So, another year finished, a new one ahead, and turbulent times to navigate. What new year's resolutions might help ? Try these:

1) Over Xmas quiet times, revamp your IT performance to be geared up for the New Year
2) Review performance - build on successes and change or remove failures
3) Review pain - can you outsource irritating, time-consuming or just plain scary jobs ?
4) Publish your skills, get out there in online communities and develop your profile
5) Try one new thing each month - innovate your way to growth
6) Take counsel - listen to advice, bounce new ideas off others

Best wishes for 2009.

Kind Regards,

Peter Jones
Director, Business Innovation & Strategy Ltd
Manager, Membership Rules - Product Development for the 21st Century

2009 Trend Watch

Here are my top tips for 2009 and beyond:

1) Open-minded businesses and leaders will innovate their way out of economic difficulties
2) On-line businesses will continue to grow, in line with knowledge of successful online behaviours
3) Business outsourcing will continue to grow, and drive the need for excellent networking ability
4) Large corporates will continue to shrink, as they understand how to change infrastructure
5) Door-to-door delivery services will continue to grow to support on-line retail business
6) Knowledge based businesses will continue to grow to support corporate compartmentalisation
7) There will be a continued rise in blogging, online publication and niche community membership
8) Longer term, there will be a revolution in manual labour through robotic workers
9) There will be a slow growth in demand for facility management and maintenance engineers
10) A rise in production of low-tech energy and water solutions will support third world growth

Happy 2009, may we all do our bit to achieve some of these goals !

Peter Jones
Director, Business Innovation & Strategy Ltd
Harrow, London

Friday, 12 December 2008

Could Project Reviews Have Prevented the Credit Crunch ?

Feedback As a Way of Learning and Driving Successful Development
A recent city article about project management, "Why do projects never benefit from lessons learned", paints a bleak picture of project management in the city (presumably London ?). It shows a stark dearth of understanding that a more experienced project manager accustomed to project review could bring to city projects. Worse, the article commits the very sin it complains of, as it is made in a comment free environment, preventing valuable feedback which would better inform its content.

I voted "against" the article, BTW, as I feel it misses the point entirely. Why ?

Now we all know city culture is short term, and too many other UK businesses outside London also don't do project review. (I sincerely hope New York is better). So the question to ask is what are the benefits of project review ?

Knowledge Retention Saves Money ! Not Sexy, But Definitely a Wow !
Retaining project knowledge means projects are done progressively better. That means saving time and money. Yep, I'll repeat that, in case it's too hard to believe. Project Review saves time and hard earned money. But it's not sexy, and therein lies the problem. Got this job done, don't bother tidying up afterwards, just get on to the next job. Who cleans up the mess ? Who steers the next initiatives away from the rocks ? All typical city I'm afraid.

Plan B - Employ Project Managers Who Have Learned About Project Management
So if city short-termism is so endemic, plan B is to get in project managers who know how to run projects and carry the knowledge and skills around with them. The article suggests that apparently this "never" happens in the City. Answer, bring in project knowledge from outside the city. (and I know this doesn't happen, when most job specs ask for 10 years technical experience.) An experienced project manager will ensure that requirements don't run out of control, that estimates are more accurate, and can improvise and negotiate scoping issues as they arise. The city still hasn't learned what PWC and Gartner have been saying for years, that projects succeed not because of technical knowledge, but because of great leadership and a built-in supportive infrastructure.

Projects can and do run to time and budget, but as the article notes, mostly outside the city. Perhaps the city is the primary contributor to the shockingly low 50% success rate attributed to project delivery ?

Six Sigma - World Class Business Delivery
As ever, people assume that project management is simply running a project. Try instead looking at project management as a continuing process that's every bit as important as marketing and accounts, takes just as much skill, and has a focus on joining silos together not optimising them in isolation. Something that embeds innovation into an organisation's very fabric.

There are just as many textbooks on project management as there are on any other subject you care to mention. A case in point is "sexily" described as Six Sigma, which talks about world class business delivery through a process of continous business improvement. This is in stark contrast to the city model described of continuing and repeated blunders. The sexily-titled Black Belts charged with orchestrating world class delivery are all Project Managers, who work with nominated team members in the organisation, labelled Green Belts.

If this seems just pie in the sky, Jack Welch, retired CEO of General Electric, is quoted to have been highly committed to implementing Six Sigma across his organisation. Quite some business, one with excellent credentials, where results really do speak for themselves. Not something to be ignored, even when working in the city.

The Cause of the Credit Crunch ?
From the scenario described, it isn't hard to see why the credit crunch took place.

As ever, constructive views are welcome.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Recruitment 2.0 ? Getting to the UK in 2020 ?

Having spent some 7 years in the "employment wilderness" now, I am struck by how little recruitment has changed, even where new attitudes can and should be making inroads in the Enterprise 2.0 age.

I note the following:

  1. UK satisfaction levels with recruitment remain below 45%
  2. The same tired old recruitment headlines are exhumed time after time in the quality UK newspapers; there are no primary innovators
  3. The UK still operates risk avoidance in preference to US risk management, most especially in the recruitment arena
  4. Nowhere is the Gartner / PWC message about leadership and culture being taken up in recruitment; box tickers still rule

At 48, and with a highly successful PM track record until 2001, I have been excluded from many jobs because of:

  • "lack of recent experience"
  • "out of date technical skills"
  • "inability to physically attend regularly enough"
  • in one instance, I "wouldn't fit the culture", aka too old - b**l**ks !! What about integrated work forces of "all the talents" ?
  • "those already working are the only ones good enough to target" - Headhunter X !!

I expect to be past retirement age, yet still working, before "recruiters" get outside their comfort zones and embrace the new means of contact and working which are evolving in the world outside their cosy front parlours. This must involve real "thinking outside the box", rejecting spurious employment "blockers", and finding better ways to discover and recruit real talent. Employers must start considering "fresh" talent, not just at board levels, and also really get angry, and demand radically better results from recruiters.

Where are the messages about developing personal contacts, business networks and the online worlds of reputation, working communities and wikinomics ? Who is reaching out and adopting really new thinking ?

I remain optimistic, though, that one day, I can write to others explaining how to overcome these "issues" and who can help them. I am still working on presenting my diverse, and to too many, confusing bundle of skills and talents, so I can once again contribute to society effectively.

And BTW, we shouldn't accept issues without solutions from our Project Management experience, they are just waiting for a higher priority. We all need to take our recruitment issues as ones which are both important and urgent, and need solving sooner rather than of necessity because, finally, everyone else has changed the way they are doing it.

May that day come sooner rather than later, because too many talented people are finding it too hard to get back to work through conventional recruitment.