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Planning for Change

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The “Planning for Change” event was held on the 24th February, at the De Vere Venues in Birmingham.  This event was the first joint event between the Enabling Change SIG and the Planning Monitoring and Control SIG.  It attracted a varied audience with different degrees of experience and from a range of industries. Around 80 people attended on the day.
All projects are about delivering some sort of change, otherwise what would be the reason for the project, however change does not just happen, it needs to be planned, monitored and controlled.  

Projects have stakeholders, these are people who will be involved, have some influence or be affected by the project.  People unfortunately don’t like change, they resist it, because they fear the unknown, even if the change is in their best interests, perhaps because they did not realise at the time.  For example, the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is now leading the closure of the very ticket offices that he once stood outside of petitioning against their closer.

Therefore people (stakeholders) must be managed, encouraged and empowered to do the right thing, at the right time and in the right place. To do this successfully requires planning, a committed team with a shared vision, and the right tools and techniques.

On behalf of PMC and Enabling Change I would like to thank the speakers for giving their time, and the companies they work for allowing them to do so. 

Below is a brief summary of the presentations and key points made during the day. 

Terri Harrington – Head of Portfolio Insight and Communities, Infrastructure and Projects Authority 

This portfolio currently contains 143 government projects with a value of over £50m each. They see a high turnover, with 75% of the projects to be completed within this parliament, in order for the benefits to be realised.  They recognise the importance of distinguishing between ‘Change’ and ‘Transformation’ projects, with a lot of IT based projects actually falling into the latter category. The government use traditionally rigid gate reviews to analyse the project progress, however they are looking to move away from this structure towards more bespoke reviews when necessary for each individual project. The outcomes from these reviews are categorised into different recommendation areas in order to take learning points on to future projects. Highest number of recommendations falls into Planning, with key points being:

  • Project plans not updated – can’t track performance
  • Lack of single integrated plan – can’t communicate progress to stakeholders
  • No critical path defined – can’t prioritise tasks
  • Lack of interdependency mapping – can’t plan critical path or track delivery of outcome

Currently, there is no tracking of the project after delivery, which makes it extremely hard to monitor the success of the projects; but again, this is something they’re looking to change.

Parag Gogate, Rod Willis and Carole Osterweil - Taking the ‘Pulse’ of groups & organisations when planning and implementing change

There is data being collected to analyse the ‘Pulse’ within a project team or group using the research groups Innovation Audit. The information gathered shows that there can be a large deviation from the ‘norm’, even within a small group, when exploring team performance throughout change. This can often be broken down into various sub groups, who demonstrate a very different opinion of the same situation; this can allow an organisation to address the issues at hand with a discussion regarding a change in the perception of feelings as evolution must start with awareness of what otherwise might be unseen.

There was a heavy influence of the feeling of ‘Flow’ within a group and how this affected the feelings and the stress levels of the group’s members, as it was explained we are systematically failing to pay attention to the soft issues regarding planning and implementing change.

Simon Williams – TfL – Delivering Effective Business Change

“Change has finally become the ‘new norm’” within businesses. Within TfL, they need to manage change better – only 28% of employees believe that change is managed well currently. Through improving this, they will be able to realise benefits faster and more successfully, as well as minimising loss of productivity. They see change as taking the way that people work now and changing it to improve success rate & sustainability as well as reducing the implementation time and performance impact in the future. They are starting to do this through 5 key steps;
1.    Clearly communicated and understood vision for change
2.    Leaders who visibly sponsor and role model the change
3.    People engaged throughout the process
4.    Line managers who lead local implementation and support driving the change
5.    Employees who understand personal meanings of the change and feel supported

TfL have recognised the need to “Manage people with the same care as the asset delivery” in order to ensure successful change or transformation projects.

Paul Chapman – Sad Business School – Strategic Change Programs in Practice

Paul asked, “Is there any evidence that assurance reviews improve project performance?” – The answer was No. He suggested there is nothing robust and empirical and he even suggested there was no evidence of what helps us deliver better projects. 

He continued that to combat the high failure rates of Major Change Programmes, change managers would need to accept the complex reality of each individual programme, and stop offering the standard solutions for change management or project management.

Planned outcome verses planned process – Are we guilty of having a ‘planned’ approach no matter where we are? 

Could we embed a design approach? Where change is address holistically as an integrated organisation instead of focusing on the sequential delivery of phases. 

Trevor Jones – DHL – Monitoring and Controlling Change

Within DHL 80% of their change projects are client-facing and these naturally take priority within the organisation. The other 20% focus on internal changes, and these often get overlooked or put back. They have built their own “scary picture of change” and believe that everyone needs to “Buy into your vision of change” in order for it to be successful. Through impact analysis, DHL take a structured look at change to unearth the negative effects and consequences in order to address these as soon as possible in the process. They create a shared need for any change and mobilise commitment in the workforce. DHL recognise a set of challenges to Change Management which they have tried to address:
1.    Change readiness and impact for major projects and programmes needs to be critically assessed
2.    Project Manager must understand tools and approaches being used/taken
3.    Role of change managers is more prevalent, but are they deployed correctly, or is it another Project Manager’s job?

“What can you do to move this forward in our world?”

Niall Farris & Michael Nightingale – Thames Tideway – Management of Client & Contractor Change

This large scale project is mainly concerned with the clean-up of the River Thames and the upgrade to the central London sewage system, playing a huge part in the areas local to the river banks. As over the life span of the project, the banks of the river will have to accommodate changes to allow the installation of a new sewage pipe which aims to take the waste from the original pipes which were built with overflows in to the river. 

Considering it only takes 2mm of rainfall for the current system to overflow and place raw sewage directly into the river, it is very important that the project change is managed correctly to keep the stakeholder moral high, while asking: Are we doing the right things? And are we doing things right? Answering these questions will allow the project to balance the needs of the contractors and the clients.


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