A vision without resources is a hallucination

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This years APM Scottish Conference had as its title Delivering the Vision.  The focus was on how projects and project teams ensure clarity of what they are setting out to do and clearly communicate what they will deliver, and the famous quote from Thomas Friedman - 'a vision without the right projects to deliver it will only ever be a vision' seemed particularly apt given the range of speakers present. 

The APM Governance SIG has repeatedly set out the importance of good governance being at the heart of project success.  We have also been clear that governance isnt just something that happens within the project it is also how an organisation approaches the use of projects to deliver its purpose; the governance of project management (GoPM) within the organisation and how this aligns with an organisations corporate governance.

This concept of collective responsibility and the slightly overused phrase culture both weaved their way through the main presentations and the breakout sessions.  Sir Richard Nobles passionate presentation of the Bloodhound SSC Project and the lessons he has learnt over 40 years of endeavour emphasised that projects are all about change and legacy, and in his case clearly innovation, but that the benefits need to be clear.

Richard Blanchfield presentation on the NorthConnect UK/Norway Power Interconnector Project emphasised the need for projects to create a clear vision for themselves that can be communicated simply, whilst John Barr, of Selex ES, highlighted the need for projects to be owned not just by those delivering them, but also by the wider organisation. Gordon Robertson, of Edinburgh Airport, rounded out the conference by highlighting the Airports new-found ability to make decisions quickly, having been empowered by their new owners, the GIP fund, emphasising the new tactical approach they have adopted by drawing on Peter Druckers famous words: Culture eats strategy for breakfast.

The Governance SIGs contribution to the speed-dating sessions was to build on these themes focusing on the key factors for governance success: 

  • The role of the sponsor is key, not only do they have to articulate the vision, they also need to ensure the main elements are in place to allow delivery to happen, whether that is engaging with stakeholders to ensure change supports their organisational objectives (alignment),
  • defining where each type of change decision can be most effectively made (golden thread of delegation),
  • defining when critical change decisions need to be made and those involved in making them (decision gates),
  • ensuring transparency of change decisions/actions and communicating their outcome (reporting),
  • ensuring appropriate resources are in place and being used properly  (competence and capacity),
  •  corroborating performance through independent review (assurance),
  • and finally, and this chimed with the theme of the day, creating the environment and displaying the behaviours that breed success (culture and ethics).

On reflection the take away from the conference was that it is not simply what is said but what is done that defines good project delivery, and for governance of projects it is exactly the same.

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Posted by Ritchie Somerville on 21st May 2013

About the Author

Ritchie Somerville is a committee member of the APM Governance Specific Interest Group

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