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Sunday, 03 September 2017 18:51


I want to return to the topic of my last post, prioritisation, and I’m going to extend some of the thinking from it.

Sunday, 03 September 2017 18:39

I briefly highlight this point to raise one of the major challenges with prioritisation. It is not the activity deciding of what you are going to do, but the decision not to do something. These may simply seem to be the inverse of each other. Perhaps. But psychologically it seems easier to say “yes I’ll do this”, than “no I will not do that”.

Saturday, 01 April 2017 08:14

If you are the sort of person who follows my posts, here or elsewhere, the chances are that you are interested in organisational change. The chances are also fairly high that you have been involved in several change initiatives. I expect that at many times your organisation has struggled with change.

I feel confident enough to say, if you have never struggled with change, then that’s because you have never been involved in a change of any complexity.

Friday, 17 February 2017 11:23

Predominantly, I have published business books. If you follow me or are a friend on Goodreads you’ll see that my interests in reading and writing are much wider. Business books are part of my professional life and how I earn a living. Whether I always like them or not, reading business books is part of the day job for me.

As an author I occasionally write a post for Goodreads. Most of my blogs and posts go on my own website (www.changinghats.co.uk) or on LinkedIn. I don’t include them here as they are mainly about business and professional matters which may be of limited interest to the wider audience of readers on Goodreads. However, occasionally a topic comes up which crosses between then – in this case about professional writing, more specifically swearing in professional writing.

Tuesday, 07 February 2017 15:05

I’ve been interested for a long time in the relationships and differences between delivery and change. One way of exploring this is in the relationships and differences between project and change managers, a subject that always seems to generate a 100 different views from 100 different commentators. In this post I want to look at one specific aspect of that difference – working out the scope of an initiative. 

Scope is a fundamental concept in the delivery of projects and change. Scope can seem a pretty simple concept to gets ones head around. I think scope has different meanings depending on the role one performs. 

Saturday, 07 January 2017 10:11

A couple of years ago I started looking for a way to help more people gain an understanding of project management. Not everyone wants to buy one of my books, and seminars have a limited number of places. A contact in the publishing industry had the great idea of connecting me up with Totem Learning. Totem Learning are a leading, award winning developer of simulations and serious games, (see www.totemlearning.com). It was a great relationship to build, and some months later the result of our join work was Unlock: Project Management.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016 12:58

I was in a conversation a few days ago, and I was reminded about an old phrase my grandfather used to say: look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves. (I’m sure there is an equivalent phrase for other currencies).  

The situation

I thought about this phrase sometime after listening to a speaker talking about the way they ran projects. They were strongly espousing a view that we should worry more about delivery and less about deliverables. 

Thursday, 10 November 2016 10:18

I want to talk about some words – specific words, but in order to do this I’m going to start with a big generalisation. 

The important thing about words is that they have meanings. Because words have meanings we are able to communicate about all sorts of objects, ideas, concepts and whatever other entities, things or stuff we want to talk about. 

Thursday, 10 November 2016 10:12

What makes successful project managers?

I have been interested in the way the best project managers think and behave for a long time. Back in 2005 I wrote the first edition of my first book The Project Manager, Mastering the Art of Delivery. The genesis of this book was an observation made from roles I had running large teams of project managers. The observation? There is limited correlation between how well qualified someone is as a project manager, and how good they are at project management. 

Thursday, 18 August 2016 12:59

As its coming into the summer break for many of my regular readers, I thought I would write on something different. 

What seems like a very long time ago, I studied for degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Economics. I have never worked as an engineer or an economist. Much of what I learnt has been discarded to the dim recesses of my mind. But this does not mean studying was in vain. The approaches from each discipline still influence my way of thinking. I think this is more useful than any specific facts or ideas from studying a subject.

Monday, 06 June 2016 20:59

I seem to have come full circle with my writing. For those of you unfamiliar with my works, which is the vast majority of the world, I am a fairly minor author. So far, my published books are mostly business and management books. I am well known in my niche, but not much beyond. To give an idea of scale - good sales for me are over 20,000 copies of a book. Bad sales are a few thousand copies.

Monday, 06 June 2016 07:57

I have been involved in projects and programmes for a long time. Long enough that I sometimes think I can smell the state of a programme when I am first engaged on it. By smell of course, I really mean pick up certain small aspects of behaviour that give me a feeling of confidence or concern.

Saturday, 21 May 2016 16:58

I have just sent back the corrected proofs for the second edition of my book Project Management Step-by-Step. This is one of my best sellers, and even though it is 10 years old – quite an age for a professional book – it still sells a few thousand copies a year. Perhaps not the huge sales of a best-selling novel, but for a niche writer like myself, pretty respectable for a book of that age.

Friday, 13 May 2016 13:17

I have roughly a million words in print. I have several hundred thousand more in eBooks, online articles and blogs, not to mention quite a few unpublished works. As a result, I am often asked for advice on writing, but I rarely write about writing. The reason is that I am slightly suspicious of that recursive behaviour whereby writers write about writing, film makers makes films about filming or playwrights stage plays about plays. But in this article I’ve overcome that suspicion and broken my habit to give five very simple tips which anyone can follow. This is not advanced advice as you might receive on a writing course, but some basic habits anyone can adopt to improve your writing.

Saturday, 16 April 2016 06:39

Imagine you are working on a project and it is going to finish late. It is a scenario that many of us will be familiar with. Is the project a failure? That depends. There are many situations in which a project is late. There are many situations in which a project – or at least a properly defined and well run project looks late, but isn’t. This happens when we confuse aspirations with plans.

Sunday, 06 March 2016 17:08

We’ve all heard the joke: a consultant is someone who borrows your watch to tell you the time. What makes the joke funny, in the way Dilbert is funny, is that we know there is some truth in it. I don’t want to tar all consultants with the same brush, but some consultants really do just borrow your watch to tell you the time. To be fair, many don’t and even when they do, sometimes it’s what the client asked for.

Friday, 12 February 2016 08:05

In the UK TV comedy Dad’s Army, Corporal Jones was a character who at regular intervals would run around shouting “Don’t panic! Don’t Panic!” The joke was he was always panicking.

It feels like this on many of the projects I am involved in. There is some pretence about being calm, but there are many signs of panicking. And what is everyone panicking about? Usually, time and money.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015 12:05

There are many reasons projects and programs get in trouble. Problems we are all familiar with include: poorly defined goals, lack of sponsorship, ineffective prioritisation and access to resources, and when there is no drive to make progress. I have been involved in lots of projects in my career, and I’d love to say every one of them was a success, but it would be a lie. Quite a big lie. I have been in projects with every one of these problems, sometimes all of them.

Thursday, 26 November 2015 11:54

I was at a project management conference a while ago. As usual, I ended up making a number of new acquaintances. Several times I did that normal introductory dance when you tell each other your name, where you come from and what you do for a living.

Saturday, 07 November 2015 11:35

Not long ago I published a post titled "what's the point of change management?" (you can find it on this site). In this article I want to do the same sort of thing for project management. I aim to write a third article contrasting project and change management.

Monday, 28 September 2015 07:55

I was talking to one of my clients this week. He described his struggle to get his head and hands around a complex change he has been tasked with. I am very familiar with this feeling. There is that feeling at the start of  big change initiatives summarised by two questions: How do you eat an elephant? How do you catch a cloud?

Tuesday, 08 September 2015 20:44

The librarians with a hammer

A couple of years ago I was asked to speak at a one day conference for librarians. After speaking I stayed on and helped with some breakout workshops. It was not an audience I was used to working with. I liked that. I am always interested in working with people I don’t normally engage with. I find I often learn to see things from different angles. Overall, I had a very good day and I did learn some new things. But most of all it reinforced a lesson about hammers and nails.

Sunday, 09 August 2015 08:11

Like many people who post on LinkedIn, I am deeply interested in the development of leadership and management disciplines - how we can continue to make them better. One way we can improve the way we work is to identify best practices and then apply them more widely. And this seems to be a commonly accepted approach. I want to express a bit of scepticism about this approach.

Friday, 12 June 2015 13:56

I’m about three quarters of the way through Proust’s magnum opus In Search of Lost Time. This novel has somewhat over 1.2 million words. It’s long - very long - and rather little happens in it. It is made up of a series of relatively trivial events bound together by the author’s observation and comments on those events. It’s not Game of Thrones.

I can try to give you a simple explanation of the book: “self-obsessed, sickly, rich guy’s musing on life and love in early twentieth century Paris”, but such a simple explanation hardly gives you a flavour of the book. I can’t really give you a good simple explanation of the book. You need to read some of it if you want to get a sense – and quite a lot of it to get a real understanding.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015 12:57

The stakeholder universe is becoming ever more complex for organizations. It has always been a challenge to determine which groups of stakeholders to focus on. Current trends are exacerbating this. 

Traditionally there were three main types of stakeholders organizations had to consider. Firstly, there were the owners and funders of the business, such as shareholders and banks, ensuring their needs were being met by the organization’s performance and strategy. Secondly, there was the internal audience of staff and work colleagues, making sure they were motivated and understood the organization’s direction. Thirdly, was the external audiences of customers and suppliers, making sure they were happy to keep buying and supplying.

Articles by Richard