10th November the evening before Remembrance Day seemed a perfect fit for an inspiring review of the Battle of Britain. Stephen Carver provide a great insight into the leaders who didn’t quite fit the normal RAF mould of the day, who were inspirational to the men who served under them. They got their teams to think outside of the box, always challenging the norm, looking for continuous improvement and innovative ways to ensure Britain didn’t succumb to the superior air power of the Luftwaffe.
The presentation started with aligning good project management to flying a plane, and how in reality we want our flight to be boring, the plane takes off, it flies, it lands and we are safe. Why aren’t our projects the same? In flying, pilots adhere to stringent check lists, they make sure it is right before they launch down that runway, do we do the same with our projects? After all the pilot has a vested interest in making sure the flight is safe, he wants to go home at the end of the day!
The analogy of flying continued into Air Traffic control and how the controllers keep the ‘maggots going into their tubes’, the system appears chaotic but the controllers know that they need to keep the airplanes going down the right flight path so they are stacked into the correct landing pattern at the airports. They follow a system that works and that is rigorously controlled.
And so on to the Battle of Britain and someone, I must admit I hadn’t heard of, Keith Park. He was a leader of change, he got to know his teams, gained their trust, acted on their ideas to improve, encourage boundaries to be tested to constantly find a better way of doing things. He empowered his men to make decisions that would ultimately give them the edge. How inspirational to work for such a leader. His vision was clear, get up in the air quick, hit quick and hard and get out even quicker. Seems obvious now, but his leadership style was not the done thing back then. In the management of our projects we could all learn a thing or two, having our clear strategy, being flexible with our systems, clear communication that is integrated throughout the project, empowering our teams, understanding the risk and complexity and constantly looking for ways to manage them.
In all a fantastic presentation by Stephen, thoroughly enjoyed by those attended. For me a real connection to reflect upon, at 11am on the 11th November. Stephens presentation can be seen below.