Friday, April 29, 2016

Quick Update

A lot of water has passed under the proverbial bridge since my last post so here is a quick update on things:

Spent a great two weeks in Jamaica, saw a good bit of the island and met some great people. My personal high spots were the jerk port at the Pork Pit, the Bob Marley Museum, Treasure Beach, the Blue Mountains, climbing up Dunn's River Falls, Jamaica Rum, brilliant sunsets, and discovering that Red Stripe also came in very large bottles!

Topsham RFC 
The First XV have secured promotion from Devon 1 to Cornwall and Devon, well done lads, a good win at South Molton did the trick. Sad news that our player/coach Ross Bovingdon, who has been hugely influential over the past few years, has decided to step down due to other commitments. The Colts have also done well this season, narrowly loosing to Exmouth in the plate final at Sandy Park.

Why Projects Really Fail
There has been a steady demand for copies of the white paper so I hope it is having an impact on people and organisations out there.

What Next
Topsham outdoor swimming pool opened while I was away and I'm now opening it up at 06:00 (for the appropriately named Nutters Club) on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

It being Friday today I will be adjourning to the Bridge Inn at 18:00 for a couple of pints after work. Nice to get back to real ale after all that Red Stripe!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Why Projects Really Fail

White Paper
Those of you who have been following this blog for some time will know that I often return to the subject of why projects fail. I even gave a presentation on it to the PMI Netherlands Summit in 2015. A few people have asked me if I had considered turning it into an article for publication, so as a first step I have turned it into a white paper. If anyone would like a copy just hop over to my web site at click on Contact and put your name and email address into the form and I'll get it off to you be return.Any comments or feedback on the white paper gratefully received.

It's Not a Matter of Life or Death
No rugby is far more important than that! I jest of course but the six nations is approaching a sort of climax with England v Wales tomorrow (Ireland, with yet another injury to Se├ín O'Brien are out of it), Exeter need to bounce back from their loss to Leicester and a terrible referee, and Topsham need to keep up the pressure on Wessex for a play-off spot. So no pressure then lads!

Friday, March 04, 2016

PMI Netherlands Summit

I was lucky enough to be invited to attend and speak at the successful PMI Netherlands Summit in 2015. It was an excellent event and now the PMI Netherlands Chapter with CKC Seminars are preparing for the fifth edition on September 15th 2016 in Conference Center Spant! in Bussum, the Netherlands. 

The central theme of the 2016 edition is: Disruption! The Summit will elaborate on the interrelation between Disruption and Project Management. 

  • What is the key role of project management, what are the capabilities we need to develop?
  • How to incorporate a severe disruption into your project, leadership, team adaptability;
  • Shifting from delivering results to delivering capabilities;
  • Beyond waterfall and agile?
  • What if your project is disrupted, escalation and derailment;
  • Disruption initiating projects or projects initiating a disruption. What are the key characteristics, how does this impact a project and the project manager;
  • Managing projects in networks as companies will evolve into co-creating organism’s;
  • Managing project risks as an early warning indicator, failure is no longer an option, not when means spending severe time and money.

Call for Papers
You’re invited to become a part of this leading conference on Project Management by submitting an innovative best practice or workshop corresponding with the themes. If you would like to submit a suggestion, take a look at the conditions and submit your paper before March 31st 2016.

The program board will criticize the papers and focus on content and connections with the Conference themes. Submitter’s will receive a notification of acceptance no later than April 22nd. Duration of the sessions will be 40 minutes (including questions).

Just Visiting
If you're not submitting a paper, but interested in attending the PMI Netherlands Summit, then early bird bookings will receive a €50 discount! Register now and visit this unique Conference for only € 345 (plus PMI members will get an additional discount).

More Details
To read more about the Summit, the call for papers or to get a registration form just visit their website at:

Let me know if you're going and I hope I may see you there and chat over a beer.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Why Projects Fail

I read an interesting article the other day on project failure and its relationship to complexity. It defined complexity as three factors: Structural (how big the project is/how many bits it has); Dynamic (how fast things are changing during the project); and Socio-Political (how much people and politics interfere). It is fairly obvious to see that the higher these three factors are the more likely the project is to run into difficulties. 

As a project manager I always followed one simple rule: get a good project or program sponsor and make the socio-political aspects their responsibility. Then you as project or program manager can concentrate on the structural and dynamic aspects. If a project is too big, decompose it into manageable chunks (sub-projects or projects within a program). If the requirements are changing too fast, then switch to an agile approach. I rest my case.

Topsham RFC
On the rugby front the storm held off enough last week so we could play three games (1st XV, 2nd XV and Colts XV) on Saturday and all the Juniors games went ahead on Sunday. The Ladies were playing in a 10's competition somewhere else and I don't know how they got on. The ground looks a lot better this week and the 1st XV and Ladies are playing at home. What with that, the six nations and Exeter playing Saracens, it's going to be a pretty full weekend!

More on the projects next week.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Topsham RFC

Meanwhile at Topsham Rugby Football Club we had the second meeting of the Finance Sub-Committee and managed to get through quite a lot without wasting too much time. There is a fine line to be observed in chairing a meeting, between giving everyone their chance to have their say and getting through the business in a reasonable time. I always try to get through a meeting in an hour or less but over-ran on this one. Next week we have the initial (project kick off) meeting for the business planning project. So things are starting to move apace.

On the playing front, we are looking anxiously at the weather, particularly Storm Gertrude (at least she is no longer a hurricane!) and keeping our fingers crossed the pitches will be firm enough to play on Saturday and Sunday. But of course the weather is all part of the Way, so we go with it, whichever way it goes.

Friday, January 22, 2016

What is Taoism?

I was watching a program on China on the TV yesterday evening, which was very interesting. However the presented did say something that I took exception to, he referred to Taoism as a religion. Now to me Taoism (the Way as defined by Lao Tsu) is a philosophy not a religion, although some people may have tried to turn it into a religion after Lao Tsu's time.

Wikipedia defines Taoism as a philosophical, ethical or religious tradition of Chinese origin that emphasises living in harmony with the Tao. The term Tao means "way", "path", or "principle", and can also be found in other Chinese philosophies and religions. 

In Taoism, Tao denotes something that is both the source of, and the force behind, everything that exists. Taoism is practiced as a religion in various Asian communities. Its theology is not theist (even though some communities do worship Lao Tzu as the attributed founder of the 'religious' doctrine), and has more affinities with pantheistic traditions given its philosophical emphasis on the formlessness of the Tao.

So as I said earlier, to me Taoism is a philosophy. It is the way that I try to run my life. As I don't believe in religion I suppose that makes me an atheist Taoist. I'm happy with that, as it's as good as any other label.

Next week back to the project!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Life Goes On

Topsham Rugby Club
After all the games being cancelled last weekend due to the pitches being flooded by the torrential rain it's hopefully back on track this weekend. The 1st XV are away to Tamar Saracens and the 2nd XV are at home to Torquay (2:30 pm kick off).

Before that the Ladies have a memorial game in honour of Lily Partridge, one of the founder members of the Ladies team, who tragically died following a Devon RFU training session just before Christmas. Kick off at 12:30pm and the Under 9's will be playing a game between that and the 2nd XV game. We are expecting a large turnout and I will be manning the outside bar so let's hope the weather forecast (dry) is right for once!

What's this got to do with project management? Well all these one-off occasions are small projects in their own right so it's always interesting to see how they work out. Also I just thought you might like to know and it's more interesting than my day job as treasurer!

The Project
I've managed to get a project team of seven people representing the different sections of the club and have the project kick off meeting scheduled for 02-Feb. I'm working on a draft terms of reference (project brief) and agenda in the meantime.

Ah just like old times, into the great unknown, but as long as I follow the Way...