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SWWE Branch 3rd Annual Dinner - 5th October

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Posted by APM on 18th Oct 2011

The South Wales and West of England branch was delighted to host its third Annual Dinner at the Aztec Hotel & Spa in Bristol. Once again we received amazing support with more than 70 members attending.

Martin Gosden, Branch Chairman, welcomed all the guests thanking them for their support. Following the excellent three course dinner and wine, Martin then introduced our speaker, Stephen Carver, who, with the help of his colleague, Kim Siddorn, gave us a lesson from history and a look back to what we, as project managers, can learn from the events of 1066, nearly 1000 years ago.

Stephen is one of the top lecturers at Cranfield, which is one of Europes leading business schools. He has a unique ability to take concepts and ideas and distil them into entertaining and informative stories. His theme of the Battle of Hastings and the preceding events was that the battle was won, not by the best warrior, or leader, but by the best project manager.

Stephen also has an interest in battle re-enactment, and this is how he met Kim, who is the Eolder of Regia Anglorum, a Saxon enactment society.

On the night, a few myths were dispelled: The battle was not at Hastings, it was at Battle. Harold was not killed by an arrow in the eye this was added to the Bayeux Tapestry at a later date he was basically hacked to bits!

Stephen then looked at each of the main players, Harold, William the Conqueror, and Harald Hardrada, taking a very amusing look at each their claims to the English Throne, as well as their management and leadership styles.

Viking Hardrada I kill without compunction and remember all my killings, was firmly in the operational, reactive, day-to-day, planning is for wimps camp. He was killed by Harold at the battle of Stamford Bridge, near York, on 25 Sep 1066. He was caught unprepared after Harolds army dashed up to York in 4 days.

Harold was a people person, getting the best out of his followers. He had a developmental style, and a balanced approach to planning. He was loved by his followers who were very loyal.

William the b*stard was actually born out of wedlock, and lived up to his name! He did not care for his followers, but planned to the Nth degree he had a transformational style and was ultra proactive, running everything as a project.

At key points throughout Stephens talk, Kim, fully dressed in Saxon gear, with chainmail, sword and shield and brought the whole talk to life, graphically illustrating the key events.

Of course we all know who won the battle of Hastings on 14 Oct 1066 William.  Despite his planning, he could easily have lost to Harold, but at the end of the day he won through sheer determination and a lot of luck! William was also known as The Lucky B*stard!

So what can we learn from all this?

Plan, plan and plan again
Embrace risk, but manage complexity
Build trust, but be careful with the politics
Prepare to be flexible
Be a leader
and above all
Be lucky!

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