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Cycle of success

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Winston Churchill once said To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often. Change often, it sounds simple enough. As project managers we change projects all of the time deliver, reset and go again. But are we edging toward perfection by changing our delivery often enough?

It is easy to improve against poor results of the past, especially if they are not your own. But changing the way in which we deliver by embracing the best elements of successful projects of the past, is surely the only way we can truly achieve perfection.

If you have come on to a project and made the change you need to succeed, you may well feel your work is done. But it is at this stage we need to ask: what else is here? How can we improve on this even more? Where are the opportunities?

In the past month I met with academic Jon Whitty and Stephen Adjaidoo, project manager at Macmillan Cancer Support. Both of these professionals live by the code of continuous improvement. Jon believes strongly that project managers need to shed the tools and techniques that do not deliver success, evolving to a future where success in a part of the professions DNA. Stephen is an evidence library project manager at Macmillan and understands that embracing the successful traits of the past and creating a culture which constantly adapts will not just deliver successful projects, but will even save lives.

For both of these men it is all about evidence-based research. The winning formula is to review and alter, again and again. The cycle of success is to change often.


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  1. Samantha Akomeah
    Samantha Akomeah 08 May 2013, 12:41 PM

    Thanks for your article Andrew, it was very thought provoking. I believe the ability to change or adopt new ways of working, even with activities as worthwhile as reviewing previous lessons learned is very much a reflection of a teams culture. It can be very difficult to introduce sustained practices within a temporary organisational team. Reviewing lessons learned therefore needs to be a process that is continually encouraged by the wider organisation to ensure evolving project teams inherit and maintain the behaviours of success.

  2. Wivi HOLLIDAY
    Wivi HOLLIDAY 21 February 2013, 06:17 PM

     I have always worked on my own, and have a fool proof 'method' of working. I don't know how I would work within a team environment, with conflicting ideas and personality clashes...

  3. Neil Walker
    Neil Walker 04 February 2013, 12:53 AM

    Hi Andrew,Many organisations fail to pay attention to the painful lessons experienced and overcome during past projects or those many trials and challenges solved through the talent and creativity of the team. So many projects start as a blank canvass, despite there being historical projects in the organisations delivering similar solutions that they could of learned from. Too many organisations dont actually conduct a lessons learned assessment at the end of a project (or at regular intervals during), so the useful experiences vanish with the disbandment of the project team. Others perform an assessment, but dont utilise this valuable information (assuming the lessons get written up, it can sit on file server somewhere, never to be read).Fostering a culture which constantly learns and adapts is paramount. This needs to be driven from the top down.Neilblog:  @ppmpractitionerNOTE: I've commented further on this post on my blog

  4. Dr Stephen Duffield
    Dr Stephen Duffield 03 February 2013, 08:43 AM

    Hi Andrew, A great post on evidence-based research. You touch on the area I am most interested in. I am currently researching project management lessons learned.  Attached is a link to my blog as I share the journey with interested colleagues.