Vive la difference!

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Waterloo, Napoleon are they out of their minds? News that Britain and France have signed a new entente cordiale, dubbed entente frugale, has sent shockwaves through the right-leaning papers.

Under the agreement nuclear secrets, which have been preserved for five decades, will be exposed; aircraft capability for the next decade will be reliant on the French flagship, the Charles de Gaulle; and French generals will take command of the SAS as part of a rapid reaction force.

But away from the tub-thumping, and general hysteria, is there something we can learn from this new era of co-operation?

Supporters claim the deal makes perfect sense in a world where resources are tight and our interests are increasingly common couldn't the same argument be levelled at project management?

In these days of austerity and shrinking training budgets do we need to look at new ways of learning that will improve our return on investment in people development?

Recent articles in Project suggest so. Dr Terry Cooke-Davies, writing in Project in May, said that the most effective project organisations spend considerable amounts of their budgets (up to 25 per cent) on knowledge-sharing activities that are explicitly designed to improve practice through sharing experience.

BAE Systems, faced with a strategic skills gap in project control, launched a foundation scheme aimed at school leavers with a mix of A-Levels at good grades. The scheme placed an equal emphasis on education and experiential learning; its aim to find candidates who could think logically, influence people and confidently present a business case.

In each case there was a need to support training on core competencies with something extra; the assumption being that if you want a truly rounded project manager, you cant achieve this in isolation. Rather, we need to find ways of forging alliances and developing communities with the right behavioral skills even if it means breaking with the habit of a lifetime.

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Posted by James Simons on 5th Nov 2010

About the Author

James Simons is publishing manager at APM. He has previously edited APM’s Project magazine for 3+ years and has a background in trade journalism. He has worked in communications and managed both print and digital publications.

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