Stage gate process aids product development #pmot

ISO9001designprocessIn the Automotive# industry thousands of individual components are designed, developed, prototyped, tested and tuned silmultaneously to be brought together as a finished car which has to meet exacting standards for safety, perfomance and reliability.

An incredible feat of engineering and project management which is made possible by the effective use of a rigorous stage gate process based on ISO9001 . Here the output of one stage has to meet pre-defined standards before the project is allowed to move to the next stage.

The key to continued success is the fine tuning of the process itself based on ‘lessons learned’ from previous projects.
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email – are you busy doing nothing ?………….. #leadership

emailEmail is a great way to waste time and avoid responsibility. Think about it – how often do you use email to avoid doing something or push the responsibility to someone else ?  Take a look around the office – how many of those ‘busy’ individuals are just busy doing nothing ?

So here’s a challenge – for one day only forget about email. Answer every question you receive by email with a phone call. Even better – go and talk to the person face to face. You will probably be surprised how much this personal interaction improves your productivity – and if it works for one day why not try it more often.

Email is great for communicating complex data or visual imagery but is no substitute for a conversation.
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What Fergie taught us…………..#management

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement as Manager of Manchester United today, after 26 years in the job. No matter who you support there is no doubt that Sir Alex is the most successful club Manager ever. Here are some things he taught us:-

  • Everyone loves a winner – even if that admiration is expressed as jealousy, to win is to succeed.
  • Age is no barrier – Sir Alex is 71 & is retiring 6 years older than the “official” retirement age.
  • Background is no barrier to success – he had a tough upbringing in Govan, Glasgow & some would say that was to his benefit.
  • He evolved – adapting his Management skills to a changing environment.
  • It’s OK to lose your temper occasionally – it demonstrates passion.
  • He treats everyone as an individual – recognizing that everyone is different.
  • He created winning Teams – developing a unifying winning culture.
  • He was fearless – willing to take on anyone who disagreed with him.
  • He was Ruthless – never scared to drop fans favorite players if they stepped out of line.

Good Luck Sir Alex.

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Why not start your own consultancy ?

As Chairman Mao famously said “we live in interesting times”.

Office6Millions of people live in daily dread of redundancy, working longer & longer hours to appease the boss in an effort to avoid the dreaded 90 days notice interview and ultimate dismissal. I know, I’ve been there once or twice myself and it sucks!

However, there is an alternative, and that redundancy payment can provide a great springboard to a new successful and rewarding career.

Any professional person with a skill to sell can start their own consultancy business but it does need a set of personal attributes which not everyone has:-

  • Persistence – you will need this in abundance to generate leads and pursue opportunities.
  • Flexibility – are you willing to travel or work away from home.
  • Pick up things quickly – can you hit the ground running & “add value” from the start of any assignment.
  • Positive Outlook – do you let things grind you down or do you react by seeking solutions to problems.
  • Uncertainty – can you live with not knowing what you will be doing in 3 months ?
  • Outgoing personality – if you can get on with people from different backgrounds & talk to the cleaner as well as the CEO you will do well, if you are a shrinking violet who prefers staring at a computer screen all day you will fail.
  • Embrace Change – if you love ding different things in different places you will thrive. If you prefer the routine then consultancy is not for you.

For more practical advice on starting your own consultancy look out for my next post.

Extracts from my future book ” Start your own Consultancy….now!”

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Who needs a #business plan ?

Every Business needs a Business Plan.

It is commonly recognized that 4 out of 5 new start ups fail in the first 12 months and a key reason for this is a lack of a proper Business Plan. Your Business Plan is not just used to gain financial support (although this is obviously a key reason) but to act as a “roadmap” for the Business by which progress can be measured and tracked.

If you are starting a new business a comprehensive Business Plan is essential. If you want help with your Business Planning get in touch for a free consultation.
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Success in Project Management by improving people skills #pmot

Whatever type of Project you are Managing results will be improved by paying more attention to your people skills:-

  • Treat others as you would expect to be treated yourself – it’s so obvious but so easily neglected. When the pressure is on it’s even more important. Every word you say, every action you take needs to take into consideration the impact on the feelings of those around you. It sounds a bit ‘wet’ but if you consistently neglect the impact your actions have on others you will pay the price of poor Team performance and morale.
  • Communicate – keep the team informed by giving regular briefings and updates.
  • Don’t rely on email – it’s a great way of communicating complex information but terrible at conveying emotions.
  •  Face to Face – the most effective way of communicating. Sit down with your key team members at least once a week.
  • Leave the door open – always make yourself available for a private chat.
  • Make it fun – it’s all too easy to get bogged down in the bureaucracy of project management – keep a sense of humor & maintain a positive outlook.
  • Never criticize anyone in front of the Team – keep it for your one to one.
  • Open & Honest – personal communication should make your team members aware of your thoughts. This means telling people face to face what you think is good & what you think is bad. This requires you to listen openly without interrupting & being argumentative. Through this process your team will gain respect for your point of view & learn that you are a good listener.
  • Treat people equally – whether they are the cleaner or the CEO.

These issues will be further explored in my forthcoming book – ‘The Projectsguru guide to effective Project Management’
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10 tips to eliminate the blame culture…..#pmot…#leadership

Changing a company culture is not an easy thing to do & the blame culture which is endemic to many organizations needs to be eliminated for innovation to thrive. Here are some tips to eliminate the blame culture:-

  • Adopt a leadership position by ignoring the accepted blame culture & practicing a solution based mind set.
  • Instead of asking who did what & why identify the steps required to move from the current position to the desired one.
  • Look to the future not the past, develop a vision of where you want the organization to be.
  • Ignore the jibes of others who try to lay the blame by focusing on the steps required to achieve the desired outcome.
  • Lead by example – people will begin to notice & copy positive behavior.
  •  Reward positive behavior with encouragement.
  • Deal with negative behavior by ignoring it.
  • Promote positive people within the organization at the expense of those who cannot change.
  • Forgive those who exhibit redemption.
  • Celebrate success & generate genuine teamwork.

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Our New Year hopes for 2013

2012 has been a pretty miserable year with freakish weather on both sides of the Atlantic, in the U.K  the highest rainfall since records began saw people washed out of house and home and businesses ruined. In the USA Hurricane Sandy battered the East Coast and several lives were lost, homes ruined & businesses destroyed.

Scandal followed scandal in the world of banking, PPI miss-selling, Libor fixing, Rogue traders etc etc

As austerity measures bite, wages decline & the economy bumps along the bottom like a flat baloon.

OK, so that was 2012, what do we want from 2013:-

  • Less emphasis on GDP and more on sustainability. The current system based on mass consumption, Consumerism & unsustainable growth fed by mountains of debt is bust ! We need to replace it with a more responsible, ecologically sound system based on managing the worlds scarce resources more effectively and equitably.
  • We need to take environmental change seriously. Whether there is a direct link between recent extreme weather & man made global warming is up for debate but there is irrefutable Scientific evidence that carbon dioxide emissions are having a direct impact on average global temperature. The long term consequences could be cataclysmic.
  • More People Power – the disaffection with the banks has led to huge defection to “community” banks like the Co-operative bank. Long may this continue. We are the mass consumers and we can have a massive impact by promoting ethical business practice & behavior.
  • Reduce our thirst for Oil – despite most of the Western world being in  recession (or near) the price of Oil remains stubbornly around $100 a barrel. There are a number of factors at work here but there is little doubt we have reached “peak oil” where future supplies will gradually decline and the price rise. We need to break the cycle by urgently seeking alternative energy sources AND reducing consumption. The Automotive industry has made great strides in recent years but nowhere near enough. Much more Innovation is needed in this area.
  • A flatter playing field – whilst workers real wages & salaries have reduced year after year the income of Senior Management & Board members has continued to rise. The gap between rich & poor gets larger every year. This defies rational thought. It is up to us to change things by greater political action, workers representatives on company boards, greater shareholder influence on remuneration committees etc etc. There is NOTHING inevitable about allowing this obscene poverty gap to continue increasing.

So there are some of our wishes for 2013. Whether they come true is up to me and you. All the best.
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Digital Switchover – a great project management success #pmot

This week has seen the completion of the Digital TV switchover in the UK.  Over a 5 year period the team has managed the successful transfer from Analogue to Digital in all regions of the UK. This has involved:-

  • Re-engineering over 1100 transmitters from Analogue to Digital.
  • Maintaining coverage at around 98.5% of UK residents.
  • Making 95% of the population aware of the programme.
  • Ensuring those who need help get it fast.
  • Freeing up the Analogue bandwidth for other uses.

The Team achieved all this and more completing the changeover on time and within budget. It was also an excellent example of collaboration between public sector broadcasters, independent broadcasters, Ofcom, Government and other parties.

Particularly impressive were the adverts targeted at the public which were clear, concise and informative.

Congratulations to the Digital Switchover team for a job well done.
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A true story……

Customer Focus

Customer Focus

Back in 2006 Reflex Semiconductor was a medium sized electronics business with Sales Revenue around $200 million and a respectable Net Profit of around $5 million.

The company had several hundred customers and  a diverse and mixed product range.

Unsatisfied with performace the Board decided to appoint a new President of Marketing.

This guy was called Max Cutter (I kid you not) and he summed up his philosophy in his joining speech.

” Guys, I want to re-focus on our core business. 80% of our profits come from 20% of our customers but 80% of our efforts are in supplying the lowest contributing 20%”  (He was obviously familiar with the Pareto rule)

“I want to re-focus our business (hang on Max, how long have you been here) by eliminating the lowest earning 20% and refocussing our efforts on the highest grossing 20% and watch this business GROW!!!”

When the clapping and cheering had subsided Max set about his business. Gathering together a multifunctional team of career oriented individuals from all levels of the organization (well, engineer level up anyway)

Pursuing a mantra of ‘All Change is Good’ they set about trimming the companies customer database, removing anyone who contributed less than 0.5% of Total Sales.

This carried on  for several months.

The Quaterly results were due to be published when Max announced he was leaving the Company for a better position. Despite much persuassion and the offer of a 30% increase in salary Max left anyway. He did get a nice leaving present of  a Rolex watch presented by the CEO.

The Quaterly results indicated that Sales were down to $140 million (-30%) and Profit was now a loss of $1.2 million.

Naturally, a Consultant was brought in to assess the situation and, after one weeks analysis, She reported that NO ONE CUSTOMER REPRESENTED MORE THAN 0.7% OF SALES.

The companies customer base was so diverse and its product range so varied the Good Old Pareto Rule didn’t apply in this case and Max and the team had successfully exterminated 30% of a perfectly good business.

Unfortunately Reflex Semiconductor never recovered and went bust a year later.

Max went on to get a job in investment banking and invented something called the “Credit Default Swap”….

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