Richard Newton wears many hats. Included amongst these are his work as a consultant, author, blogger, change leader, company director, and program manager. His most well known project management book is The Project Manager: Mastering the Art of Delivery. He is also the author of the best-selling Dream It, Do It, Live It which applies project management principles to achieving personal dreams.
I have just published my latest book, called "Managing Your Team Through Change". I am certain there is space for another book on change management. Two reasons drive this certainty: most books ignore team leaders as a specific audience with particular needs, and most change books do not talk to the messy reality of organizations. If you are a team leader, line manager, or someone who works with, supports or advises team leaders on change – this is the book for you.
Middle management is a really unfashionable topic. But to run an efficient organization it is critical to help middle managers fulfil their roles. My book sets out to do this, in the specific context of change.
Ever since the leadership bandwagon started some decades ago, there has been repeated advice for managers to become leaders. One central piece of this advice is to avoid micro-managing. Give your team members space to do their work how they see best. Delegate widely. Set broad goals – leave your team to get on with the details. Focus your attention on building an environment in which your team can succeed, rather than trying to control them.
This is good advice. But like many simple pieces of advice – it can be interpreted in significantly different ways.
Early in my career I was volunteered, (I know that’s an oxymoron, but most of us have experienced “being volunteered”), to join a quality circle. We met on a regular schedule, discussed problems and identified solutions. Our managers kept stressing how important our quality circle was. It was interesting for a while. Nothing much came from it.
Perhaps nothing came from it because “being volunteered” was the wrong starting point. I think it did not work because the expectation of what our quality circles were going to achieve was out of proportion.
A few weeks ago, I sent the manuscript of my latest book to my publishers, (and writing this book is one reason I have not been posting so much recently sorry!). This will be my 11th book and possibly my last that will be published in the traditional format via a large publisher. In parallel, my 12th is already some way towards publication – but unlike my 11th it will only be produced in electronic format and is about a quarter of the length. The change between my 11th and 12th books marks the widespread, and probably easily predictable shift in publishing, commented on by many.
I spend my life involved in projects, programs and change initiatives. A part of most of these initiatives is doing some form of stakeholder management. The aim is to engage stakeholders in the work of the program, to get their support in achieving the program goals and in accomplishing sustained change. I have come to realise that stakeholder management is like charity. It starts at home. By ‘home’ I mean with those you are working closest to - the program team itself.
Have you ever been in one of those meetings in which the whole conversation revolves around definitions? Occasionally these sessions are explicitly set up as an exploration of definitions. More often a meeting becomes about definitions when someone says something like “what do you mean by that” or “I don’t understand what you are talking about”.
A few years ago I decided I would like to do another degree. In one way this was hardly a rational decision – it will probably not help my career in anyway, I am very busy as a consultant, helping to run two businesses and publishing on average one book a year. Spare time is scarce. On another level it was completely rational in that I undertook the degree just for the intellectual pleasure of studying a subject in depth. And what better reason to do something than for pleasure?
In this blog I will explain why you should take the blame for things that go wrong that were your fault - even if only partially your fault. The most common argument for taking the blame is an ethical argument. The basis of that ethical argument uses principles such as we should tell the truth and not risk that others take the blame for our shortcomings. Whilst I support this ethical argument I am going to ignore it for the time being. What I want to build on is the selfish argument for taking the blame.
A common side effects of successful project and program management in organizations is the designation of activities as projects or programs which are neither really projects nor programs.