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Top tips for The Apprentices

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Who would have thought that the topic of the current series of the Apprentice would have generated so much activity in the project management blogosphere? Almost as much as the Linkedin discussion on what should be the project managers theme tune - 79 comments and counting!

In the Parallel Training blog, Paul Naybour has been talking about Lord Sugars capability as the project sponsor which prompted the question about which project His Lordship  is actually sponsoring? Answer the one that maximises his personal profile and the BBCs ratings. This is a particularly interesting view of the series: if you think about the whole thing in the round, there are multiple stakeholders wth multiple desired outcomes and potentially conflicting  positions. Is it complex or complicated? Or shall we save that one for another day?

A discussion on the APM website questioned the impact of the programme on the professional image of project managers, given the woeful performance of most of the apprentices whenever they have the misfortune to be given the title.  Most participants in the discussion seem to adhere to the any publicity is good publicity view, by the way.

The Lazy Project Manager has been using the series as a weekly case study on how not to manage a project.  The learning points seem to focus principally on the lack of any sort of team management competence or leadership qualities.

Which brings us back to the question I posed on the 13th October, what top tips would the professionals pass onto these would-be project managers? Not in any order, the following tips will be passed to Talkback Thames for consideration for their future programmes:

  • Insist on good quality people ones that behave professionally in front of the client
  • Work in an agile manner to deliver a little and often, quickly agreeing changes with the client
  • Ensure your team communicates well, and above all LISTENS
  • Take time to plan and prepare resources, skills and behaviours before expending energy
  • Stamp your authority then step back and allow the team/solution to evolve. (not sure about this one, perhaps something to do with demonstrating leadership is more appropriate?)
  • Build a good team with clear roles and responsibilities and clearly understood objectives
  • Ensure your team buys in to the solution

Doesnt sound very difficult really does it? But as we all know the soft stuff is always the hardest!


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