Appetite for business change…go on a lean diet

Author: Fay MacDonald

Who really has the appetite to drive through difficult change in Programmes / Projects


Many Business Change programmes / Projects are really just IT projects…but don’t need to be…why not apply Lean thinking to Programme / Project Management Plan itself.

Business cases often identify lots of aspirations and the grand purpose of the project. However, to really deliver, they need a focus from a process and people perspective, otherwise they just don’t get there.

How to get Lean with a Programme / Project

  1. Where are you starting from: Baseline business processes, document the “as is”;
  2. What is the purpose?: Identify clearly why the changes need to happen and what the anticipated measurable outcomes will be and who will be responsible for delivering;
  3. Find the waste and get rid of it: This is usually a challenge, many people don’t like to change things the way they always have been and especially if it will involved removing or changing people’s job roles – HR may need to be involved from the get-go on this;
  4. Add value to the purpose: Make sure that when designing the new business process flows that every step adds value to “the Purpose”;

Top 5 things you must do to extract benefits from a project

Author: Fay MacDonald

Top 5 things you must do to extract benefits from a project


Many fail at the simple task of Benefits Delivery

Many Projects, big and small, complex and simple fail to deliver benefits. Yet it is actually a pretty simple thing to do if the proper steps are followed.

What are the Top 5 things to do?

  1. Start early: The work on extracting the honey [Benefits Realisation] needs to start up-front when scoping and planning the Project;
  2. Press the flesh: Assumptions need to be challenged. People from areas that will be impacted or relied upon for any part of the delivery need to be invited to comment;
  3. Clear understanding and clear articulation: If the Business Case is woolly in any way, then it is almost certain that the Benefits will not be delivered in the time-frames that are claimed. The key components need to be spelled out and well articulated;
  4. Sustained workstream: To achieve the Benefits, the effort in scoping and planning of the benefits needs to be sustained throughout the Project. The effort on looking at the details in the scoping phase merely proves that Benefits are possible. However, they won’t deliver themselves;
  5. Ask great questions: The quality of the Benefits Case and the quality of the delivery depends so much on having asked great questions of the right people. A Project Manager cannot be expected to know the detail of all the “Why, What, Who, Where, How and When” aspects for that particular organisation. However, the Project Manager and the writer of the Benefits Case needs to know that the questions need to be asked…and answered.

Read more…



Your best fan…

Author: Fay MacDonald

Are you an effective supporter or are you a saboteur?


Your best critic will help you achieve the best results

Many studies have been carried out the world over which tell us time and again things like:

  • Following a mentor will give you a path to follow – If we follow someone who has been successful at something we want to do then we will start to emulate what they do if we hang around them;
  • Encouraging people to be their best works better than focus on the bad – If the ladies go shopping with their partner/ husband-boyfriend/best friend and they try on lots of jeans – when they ask the question “does my bum look big in these?” they never want to hear “yes”….they simply want to know which pair of jeans is the most flattering cut for them so that they can look their best;
  • Harsh words destroy – This happens to people…but also to plants apparently. A study conducted a few years ago at Wisley Horticultural Centre in England witnessed this in a controlled research test on tomato plants. Speaking kind words to these plants every day caused them to flourish. Conversely, speaking harsh words to other plants in the same conditions caused them to wither and die. Apparently this is something to do with the energy which we give out as we speak the words.

Why do Negative Prats bother going to Football Matches

John Terry and Juan Mata - Chelsea Vs Fulham - 26 Dec 2011

I took my nephew to his first big football match on Boxing Day. We are both big Chelsea fans. We went to the Chelsea Vs Fulhham football match at Stamford Bridge – the Chelsea FC home ground. We had fantastic seats in the second row next to the management section and had a great view of all the players warming up and the pitch. The stadium was packed with 41,548 fans, despite a tube strike and other rail and road problems.The match was great…although we would certainly have preferred a Chelsea win, rather than a 1-1 draw.

Unfortunately there was a running commentary from a negative prat sitting behind us. This prat purported to be a Chelsea fan…he was wearing all the Chelsea colours and cheered when Mata scored a goal. Yet he spent much of the match yelling out at various Chelsea players about what he thought they were NOT doing and that it was “time they were dropped from the team or taken off” etc. Not once did he yell out anything positive.

I just don’t comprehend why anyone (let alone a fan) would pay money and spend an afternoon to watch a match whilst being so critical that they are actually destroying the spirit and energy rather than supporting the team. On top of that, I am sure he felt pretty bad by the end of the afternoon too.

Why not just cheer at the good bits, encourage the players to do more of what they each do well. Send out some positive energy vibes!

Positive Thinking, Positive Words, Positive Results

Focusing on positive thoughts, only speaking positive words always deliver positive results. Even if this is in a difficult circumstance, speaking positively will bring out the best result we can hope for.

If we all made this a New Years Resolution for 2012, what a pleasure our world and our Projects at work would be.

Become an amazing fan of success!… products available on Amazon



Fast, very very fast

Author: Fay MacDonald

Are you going so fast at work that you need to let off some steam?


When is your smiling time?

Some people see fun as something they had in their childhood.

Others see fun as something they will have someday…after the hard work is done.

Others see fun as something we need to weave into our everyday lives.

“When is your smiling time?” This is a common saying (originating from Glasgow, Scotland) gestured at miserable, grumpy looking people which is meant to make them laugh. If you have been asked this question recently, you probably have been scowling too much at work, at home and possibly both!

I’ll have my usual

The highly intensive pace on many Projects causes people to have less time for fun outside of work; and sometimes no fun at all whilst at work.

You will recognise this happening when you phone up the chinese take-away, you are just about to say what you would like…and they say: hi Fay or hi Tom, would you like your usual?

When this happens to us a couple of times in the month…it really is time to break out of the monotony, to stop working so late so often and to regain the fun in life. It’s time to banish the regular “chicken with ginger and spring onions with boiled rice” in favour of going out and just doing something which makes us grin from ear-to-ear!

I hope that your week is slightly better than fanbleedingtastic

The blog I published a couple of weeks ago on Speed received so much good feedback. Thank you for that. So I indulged myself by sharing a bit more on one of my passions in life…the TVR car. I can grin from ear-to-ear whether driving them or watching others drive them. What a thrill! Sadly…I am not currently driving one…but enjoy watching them.

I looked out some of my favourite clips on Youtube at the moment.

Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear describes the TVR Cerbera (see youtube video below) as:

  • just slightly better than fanbleedingtastic;
  • the noisiest and most exciting car this side of a Lamborghini diablo
  • the noise of the engine better than a Tchaikovsky symphony;
  • and the experience of driving one to have left him with the abiding memory of…fast, very very fast!

Have a great week…in the countdown to the Christmas and New Year holidays! I hope you have some fun things planned either at work or at home.

COMMENT & CONTACT: Please feel free to leave a comment below or if you would like some advice on any of the issues above which may relate to a Project your are working with please contact me using the contact form in the menu at the top of the page.

And now for some FUN!!!



Let the speed rrriiipp in TVRs rather than a Project… products available on Amazon




When Good Stress turns Bad

Author: Fay MacDonald

When good stress turns bad


Stress can be motivating… for a while

Most of us need a deadline or some form of stressor to motivate us into action. Checkpoint meetings, calendar alerts, alarm clocks!

Great leaders and managers typically thrive on deadlines. However, to remain great leaders, they will typically have cycles of speeding up and slowing down. This is how they manage their own resilience.

Many large organisations actively encourage their senior people to take “out-of-the-box” time, away-days for reflection and creativity time. This allows people to breathe for a few moments, reflect on where they have arrived at in relation to the initial strategy and goals and to plan ahead for the next big phase.

This is something which needs to be encouraged more and more in large and complex Change Projects and Programmes – particularly in the Public Sector (incl. Healthcare) in the UK which is undergoing enormous amounts of change at the moment.

Seeing Stress in your Cereal is Definately NOT a Good Thing

When the pace is unrelenting in Change Projects and Programmes, the positive aspects of the stress can turn the tide to the opposite direction.

All the good work and results achieved start to ebb away. Success can only build on success if a break is taken.

Studies have shown that:

  • highly stressed people have higher levels of cortisol in the morning;and
  • Monday mornings are the peak time for heart attacks.

Acceleration and Multiloading

An article in the Sunday Times at the beginning of this year quoted Jochen Menges (a lecturer at Judge Business School in Cambridge) on the results of his study regarding how continual pushing of people and organisations can in the end lead to the organisation suffering deterioration rather than improvement.

The concepts which Menges writes about based on a study he conducted of nearly 100 businesses.

Organisations and people are finding themselves in states of stress and change fatigue because the stress-levels and speed are never varied. When more is delivered…even more is asked for.

The motivation of the initial deadline is exciting. However, if this pace is not regulated, the stress which was previously good turns to bad.

A couple of terms Menges used are:

  • Acceleration trap – where businesses [or organisations] push their people hard for a long time will tend to get worse results than those that allow a bit more room to manoeuvre.
  • Multiloading – when an organisation has so many priorities and everything is labelled critical, but nobody knows what is actually important.

Accelerated, Overloaded and Unrealistic Change Projects

In the years that I have been working on planning and delivering Change Projects I have seen examples of the above styles in many organisations and individuals.

For example, some Project Managers

    • Writing up the Risks and Issues register or the highlight report….it appears as though everything MUST BE the priority TODAY – which translates to lots of wheel spinning and a lack of focus;
    • The Project Plan is usually out-of-date, ie. many uncompleted tasks with end-dates in the past;
    • Multiple tasks are stacked against a few individuals in the same time-frame…all requiring full time!

When the Project reaches this stage of so many things being CRITICAL, OVERDUE and UNREALISTICALLY SCHEDULED… it really is the time for the P.M. to have a biiiggg coffee-break and re-align the priorities to the original strategy.  This is a Project which is sliding off the rails

Great Leaders & Great Managers naturally…

  • Have self confidence;
  • Are innovative;
  • Are decisive;
  • Pick themselves up after a defeat;

Long term pressure and stress…

  • Reduces peoples’ self confidence – Management, including Project Managers and Senior Executives will question whether they can really stand their ground and say NO to a deadline being achievable;
  • Squashes innovation and creativity – naturally creative and innovative people are ground-down, they feel that they are on a treadmill and stop looking at the sky for inspiration and the road ahead for risks;
  • Lack ability to be decisive – too many options, too many issues…all competing for the same CRITICAL attention, time is wasted if decisions are not taken;
  • People are less and less able to pick themselves up after a defeat.

The Importance of having Chill Out Time to remain Creative and Progressive

The organisation managing the change needs to recognise that a pace which is sustainable needs to be found. Running back-to-back Projects which flog the same few people at a frenetic pace will not be sustainable and the impact will be that good people will leave, knowledge will be lost with them and the pace will slow down by virtue of trying / driving too hard.

Well the above won’t change all the Projects which could be in trouble today…but possibly I can inspire some of you readers to take a break for a few minutes to re-charge…Have a look and listen to the youtube clips below.

Chill OutYoutube clip of John Lee Hooker and Carlos Santana: Chill Out…Change is gonna come

Sand Dancer Youtube clip of a free spirited creative guy who is creating beautiful images on beaches…shared with me on Facebook this week …enjoy it!

COMMENT & CONTACT: Please feel free to leave a comment below or if you would like some advice on any of the issues above which may relate to a Project your are working with please contact me using the contact form in the menu at the top of the page.




Some resources to assist with STRESS MANAGMENT…available on Amazon


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