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Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez’ article in PM World Journal is a fascinating insight into why senior managers tend to ignore project management. I won’t steal his thunder – read the article, it is an interesting perspective; whilst it may feel somewhat depressing I think there is plenty of evidence that things are changing. Antonio is author of The Focused Organization: How Concentrating on a Few Key Initiatives Can Dramatically Improve Strategy Execution.
I really enjoyed Douglas Board’s interview with Bob Garlick on the recent Business Book Talk. It’s extraordinarily demoralising, when we are all struggling to create a new future in an uncertain business world, to see those selected and paid to lead us so often seem to have feet of clay. Douglas’ insights into executive selection offer some pragmatic ways of changing by understanding and embracing the uncertainty and complexity it involves. If we adopt the kind of approaches he is advocating in the place of the old, self-perpetuating ones, I wonder to what extent this would change both the quality of our leaders and the culture of leadership which they enable? Douglas Board is author of Choosing Leaders and Choosing to Lead: Science, Politics and Intuition in Executive Selection.
Jane Sparrow’s interview with Bob Garlick in the recent Business Book Talk is a wonderful example of leading by example. If you just listen to how Jane talks about her approach to leading employees, you get an immediate sense of the quality and common sense she distills in her book The Culture Builders. Her focus on the importance of middle managers in making things happen may not be radically new but the pragmatism that she brings to the process of mobilizing them is immediately convincing. That doesn’t mean that it’s easy – particularly with the five distinctive roles that she outlines for middle managers (prophet, storyteller, strategist, coach, pilot) – but then, just maybe there are middle managers out there who are looking for the opportunity to step up to a challenge; to make a difference to their organization and not spend their whole time simply as the bulldogs of business-as-usual.
There is a huge amount that business leaders can learn from the military experience; the trouble is that in many cases, the lessons require translation. Bob Garlick’s interview in Business Book Talk with Nicholas Beale (Strategy Consultant) and David Ellery (Foreign Office) really opens up the oppportunity for business leaders to learn from the military and vice-versa. Some readers and listeners may view this confluence of business and battle as evidence of the increasing commercialisation of war but I don’t think this points to that at all; rather it’s the first, rather successful attempt, to distill pragmatic and universal leadership lessons in a langauge that makes them relevant to all. Vice-Admiral Charles Style, Nicholas Beale and David Ellery are the co-editors of In Business and Battle: Strategic Leadership in the Civilian and Military Spheres.
Sometimes we can overlook the simplest of questions because we become mesmerised by the scale or complexity of a particular issue; the energy industry is a case in point. Steven Fawkes’ article ‘Electricity Market Reform and the Demand Side’ offers a perspective on the dangers of a government focusing on one side of the equation (supply or demand) that is easy to grasp and hugely important, whether you are in the industry, an investor or just a UK citizen. Stephen Fawkes is author of Outsourcing Energy Management(2007) and Energy Efficiency: A Definitive Guide to the Fastest, Cheapest, Cleanest Forms of Energy (2013)
Stakeholder communication may be a very urgent requirement for every project but Ann Pilkington’s article in Simply Communicate shows why it’s well worth taking a moment to reflect on the resources you have to hand, before you start the communication process. Have you reviewed the project documentation - how it has been structured and what it contains should be fundamental to your approach to communication; have you talked to the right people, asked the right questions and do you understand the context behind the project? I found this article really refreshing because it provides such intuitive lessons for anyone trying to work out the basis for their communication plan … it’s all there, if you take the time to look for it! Ann Pilkington is author of the forthcoming Gower book Communicating Projects.