Mario Gil highlights the importance of identifying Stakeholders

Zorana: Hello Mario. Thank you so much for doing this interview with us. The first thing I would like to ask you is:

  • what would be the main tangible benefit that you could share with us about the bootcamp with Scatterwork?

Mario: Stakeholders: how to deal with different stakeholders and how to manage them to have success in the project.

Zorana: Great. And when you started the Bootcamp:

  • what was your main motivation?
  • what were the issues you were looking to resolve?
  • what was the project that you were working on at the time?

Mario: I was working on a project in the Ivory Coast in the cement industry and the main motivation was again to deal with different stakeholders.

There were a lot of stakeholders involved in the project: local authorities, rail companies, harbour companies and also subcontractors so it was mainly a question of how to deal with them, how to manage them and to identify how important they are for the project.

Zorana: And how big was that project in terms of cost and complexity?

Mario: It was around 20 million euro. There were different companies involved but among the most difficult thing was to deal with all the external stakeholders: the local authorities, rail, clients, all of them and identify that not all of them are equally important.

Zorana: And just for the for the end, one last take-away from the bootcamp, something that you could apply on future projects and like in your business?

Mario: I am in a very similar project now and I’m already implementing the things I learned in the bootcamp with Scatterwork.

Again the issue for me at the beginning is that it is important to identify the stakeholders. That is a critical issue for the project and now I have identified after the bootcamp with Scatterwork that this is key thing to have a success in a project.

Zorana: Thank you so much, Mario.

Mario: Thank you very much.

Interviewer: Dr. Zorana Boltić PMP
Interviewee: Mario Gil Fernandez MSc PMP

Old Advice for New Managers

Is Situational Leadership still valid for new managers? I’m Deasún Ó Conchúir of Scatterwork and I’m looking at a model that’s been around for a long while.

When we move into a new role taking over an existing team, we assume that everyone is experienced. That means that we give them low support and low direction; just let them them get on with the work. But if that doesn’t work enough then we can change our style and give higher support to individuals, hopefully bit by bit moving them towards the experienced level.

If that doesn’t work we can decide to be more directive so we’re telling people what to do but still giving them high support and then in a case where somebody is a complete beginner we can just tell them what to do and give them no support: please just do the work.

The advantage of that is that we find people where they are. We might go two or three steps back on that system before we find where each individual is. And of course we treat everyone, differently depending on who they are. Then with a bit of luck they will work their way up to the experienced quadrant, but it takes time!

Now another approach is that we start at the other end and the big disadvantage of this is that if somebody is not a beginner they get annoyed immediately
and then you’ve lost them until you move out of that job.

So the question I’m asking “is this approach still valid?” because it was formulated in the time when there were not so many generations working at the same time as there are now and this approach was identified before the existence of, for example social media and the internet and of course these days we’re in contact with people around the world who come from many different cultures and have many different styles of interaction. So it may be that the model that was laid down some time back is no longer valid so I hope that this video will have at least stimulated your thoughts in that area.

Deliver your Mission-Critical Project successfully

Are you responsible for a mission-critical project and want to do everything to deliver it successfully? Then a Deep Dive Project Bootcamp is what you need. In it we explore your current project and look for opportunities to accelerate the delivery, reduce the costs and minimize the risks.

Why does it work?

Of course, you already know what you are doing and the purpose of the bootcamp is to go into that in detail and look for opportunities for improvement. The areas that we examine cover the whole range of how we plan and implement the project.

For example, identifying who exactly the stakeholders are and what their stance is; how we work with a remote team, how we manage the risks, how we control progress and so forth.

Who is it for?

So the deep dive project bootcamp is for your staff and their project teams who are currently responsible for delivering mission-critical projects and who need to achieve significant improvements, so it’s suitable for

  • mission-critical projects which are at a planning or implementation phase
  • it can also be applied to Troubled Project Recovery, for example after a change of leadership if a project hasn’t been delivering as expected.

Bootcamps are relevant for all business sectors and technical branches.

Choice of Delivery Options

Bootcamps have a number of delivery options, for example if you have confidential projects, you probably want to do the bootcamp in-house, either on-site in a traditional face-to-face environment or maybe by global virtual delivery.

If you have a project which is less confidential, for example moving an office, then you probably feel comfortable with bringing it to a public event, if there is one in your locality at a time when you need it.

Spectacular Business Payback

The business payback of the Deep Dive Project Bootcamp can be spectacular.

  • A company in Canada found that its deliveries worth 10 million euro were being blocked by its client due to an inspection issue. When these were resolved the deliveries were released.
  • A company in France was able to start a project phase 20 weeks earlier than the original plan due to an insight that it obtained during a bootcamp.
  • A company delivering products into China had to register every single one and this was both complicated and expensive. During a bootcamp they developed a standard approach and this allowed them to go to their clients and say “this is the way we normally do it” and ask for a contribution from the clients. So not only did they have a better process but they were actually able to get their clients to share half the cost.
  • In Switzerland a company had an unusual situation as the people in production virtually all had doctorates in chemistry, so they were very competent professionally but with a different focus from projects. During a bootcamp they were able to expand their responsibilities and accelerate revenue growth.

How you benefit

So you benefit by identifying

  • valuable opportunities to improve delivery time, costs and risks and of course other details, but these are the ones that tend to dominate.
  • expensive pitfalls

You benefit by leveraging from our experience in over 40 countries and you get an opportunity for individual consultancy.

You also share insights with other participating project teams and the hands-on multicultural delivery style is usually great fun.

In conclusion…

If your project is mission-critical or it may be very visible politically within the organization or maybe the demands are very high compared to the resources that you have at your disposal, this is definitely time for you to contact us in connection with a Deep Dive Project Bootcamp. Thank you!

PESTLE Market study for Scatterwork

PESTLE Market Study for Scatterwork

Hello, this is Deasún Ó Conchúir from Scatterwork and we were interested in various target markets that we should be operating in. We have experience in quite a few and we wanted some more information about which would be the really good ones, so we approached the University of Strathclyde, Department of Management Science. One of the students there is going to talk to us now and has done a very useful study for us. So over to you:

Hello, my name is Linjing and today I will introduce my research, which is focused on four countries of interest to Scatterwork:

  • Singapore
  • Ireland
  • Belgium
  • United Arab Emirates.

The PESTLE model is used to analyse the political, economic, social and culture, technology, legal and environmental issues for these four countries. From this analysis I have come to the conclusion that Singapore has performed very well in the six areas so it is very suitable for business development.

The economic environment in Ireland and the United Arab Emirates is developing very, very rapidly but there is some political instability in both countries. In addition, the United Arab Emirates have certain investment barriers in social and culture, technology, legal and environmental areas.

In contrast, Ireland except for the instability of Brexit is very suited for the environment in investment and the development of business.

The economic growth of Belgium is relatively slow but it is a stable market and with a good geographic allocation. Belgium is not the best choice but still can be an investment target.

That’s very good indeed so that fulfilled our objective. We had informal experience from different countries and now we have something very specific to tell us what people are interested in so I’d like to thank you Linjing for your study there, which is very useful to us.

Thanks very much.

Thank you too, Dr Deasún.

Transform your Brexit issues into an actionable plan

At the time of recording, about a month before the Brexit date, nobody seems to know whether or not it will actually happen on the plan date or be slipped by a little or a lot. Even if it does take place ontime, what needs to happen is very unclear.

In any project if we have enough time and money and people to do the work it’s easy enough but in particular we need to know what needs to be done and what the limitations are. In this case it seems that what needs to be done is very, very unclear.

As I make this recording, I’m actually on a border between Germany where the grass is and Switzerland where the buildings and footpath are. The rules are the same on both sides so it’s easy – there’s no border. But if for example you divide, as Brexit does, into two zones, then
obviously all sorts of new regulations come into force which have to be put in place.

A lot of companies would say “Well, I don’t know where to start and I don’t have enough time and anyway I don’t know what I need to do” so although there is plenty of advice about things that you could look at, the priorities are not clear.

In these workshops what we do is say “Let’s start now putting together a plan so that we know as far as possible what are our objectives, our limitations, who’s going to make the decisions. Is it going to be done by somebody internal or external? And so on…”

A lot of that preliminary work can take place before the actual objectives have have stabilized so by doing these workshops you give yourself a bit of extra lead time and lower the pressure and improve the chances of surviving the turbulence, with maybe a little bit less pressure than otherwise.

So there you have it: these two-day workshops to do the planning for implementing business in the context of Brexit are not workshops to tell you what to do for Brexit – there is plenty of advice for that from government, Chambers of Commerce, trade associations and so on – What we do is actually come out of those events with a plan.

If we’re lucky we’ll be ahead of the wave and we can wait until the information comes, but it’s more likely that you’ll be glad that you started early. I look forward to meeting you there.

A Voyage of Discovery

Projects are a bit like a voyage of discovery – you know where you want to go and have some idea of how you’re going to get there but you don’t know the details. As you move forward, you get more clarity and the more experience you have, the better chance you have of making it work.

I’m talking to you from the N Seoul Tower in South Korea, after a hard week’s work with some clients in Asia and I decided I should do a little bit of tourism. So the first question is: How do I get to the tower?

It turns out that one of the easiest ways is just an ordinary bus route. There are tourist buses but then you have to go to the right place for them and you don’t get in touch with the people. So I decide to do it that way and then I had to find out how to pay for the bus.

You can either pay the driver with money but it’s hard to talk if you don’t speak the language. Or you can get an electronic card which is really handy. So I bought the electronic card but then I discovered that it had no money on it. Apparently you have to buy the card and load it as two transactions. So that meant I had to ask somebody in the hotel to write out a message for me to show the shop telling them what to do.

Then I knew roughly where the bus stop was – it was near a metro station but although it was only maybe 10 m from the exit, it took me about half an hour to find it. I didn’t know what a bus stop looked like and I didn’t know what signs would be on it and if it was the right bus going in the right direction and so forth.

Eventually the bus came along but late. I knew something was happening because the indicator had the number of the bus and then some message different to the other buses. But I don’t know – probably to do with a delay.

Then I had to know where to get off. That was relatively easy because at the end of the route all the tourists got off and went to the Tower which is another few hundred meters away.

So that’s the way a project is and the next time I come here should be much easier:

  • I know how the cards work;
  • I know you don’t need to register them;
  • I know where you can load them;
  • I know you have to have a card;
  • I know how to find my way out of the metro station;
  • I can orient myself on the map.

So I learned a lot. Doing it another time would probably be a good bit easier which is just the way projects are.

Thanks very much and goodbye.

Actionable Brexit Plan for SMEs

Brexit Escape Room
Time to plan for Brexit?

Is it too soon to plan for #Brexit?

Whatever way #Brexit unfolds, Ireland is one of the countries most affected, possibly even more so than Britain itself. Because of this, Irish businesses, both north and south, need to implement urgent and unavoidable process changes, over and above their normal business operations. This is likely to lead to overload or emergency, unless the necessary resources are applied AND the planning starts soon enough, even before it becomes clear what specifically needs to be done.

This is different from traditional projects, where the objectives are usually visible by the time the planning begins. In the case of #Brexit, where the implementation date was slipped twice and it may even not take place, the time for this pre-planning is “as soon as possible”.

Book now

This situation corresponds to Scatterwork’s core expertise area of Project Implementation, based on which the BrexitEscapeRoom has been developed. This is a hands-on, dynamic and collaborative workshop for SMEs, combining both training and consultancy.

Participants come with (some idea of) WHAT needs to be done, based on their knowledge of their business, advice from government and EU agencies, trade associations, banks, professional advisors etc.

They take away a thorough #Brexit implementation plan, which they can use to delegate the work and get critical support from customers, suppliers and staff.

Grant Aid

Usually the benefits for Scatterwork’s clients are far in excess of the costs (all business is like this) but because the impact of #Brexit is likely to be so great, government grants which can be applied to reduce the cost even further are being offered:

Book now

When are Brexit Escape Room workshops available?

Monthly through the summer, with additional capacity for September:

OK, so what is a project?

Photo by Sweet Ice Cream Photography on Unsplash

The books tell us that a project delivers a product, a service or a change of state. But what does this actually mean?

A product is easy enough and there are plenty of examples. If a business moves its office from one place to another and this means that new furniture has to be purchased, then bringing it to the new office location could be a deliverable of the office moving project. You can check that the item was received in the right place and tick off this deliverable on your list.

Or we can take an example from outside work, where we invite friends to dinner. The food and drink, carefully prepared and brought to the table and laid out so that our friends know that they were expected, could also be considered to be a deliverable. The product is all the food nicely prepared and brought to the table, particularly if arranged by a catering company.

The second category of project delivers a service. This is not as tangible as a project but is very common in business. Consider for example an insurance company which offers an existing car insurance product which is available to anyone over the age of 25 years. After some market research, it is decided that this service should be extended to cover anyone at least 18 years old, so the work involved in the project is to do everything that is needed to extend the insurance offer to this broader age group. For example, we need new publicity, we need to calculate new prices and the conditions need to be changed and agreed with the various business interests, as well as training for the employees and so on. When everything is ready, the new service is rolled out as a package. If somebody between 18 and 25 walks into an insurance company, the insurance is available to them, in other words, a new service has been delivered, most likely by using a project approach.

But what about a change of state, what does this mean?

Anyone who has worked in the factory will be familiar with testing of products before they are shipped out. They will probably be kept kept in one space until ready for testing, then moved to another space after testing. The products look the same but because they are kept in the storage space for tested products, they can be shipped and therefore have more value.

What has changed is the state. At the beginning each product was untested, and now it has been tested so there has been a change of state.

Another example of a change of state is a training program. Typically we have so many people who come to the training whose knowledge is at a certain level. When they leave the training, hopefully they will have a higher level of knowledge. This improvement is a change of state. The organising of the training might be done on a project basis and the change of state considered to be a deliverable.

But there is another example which I often hear when delivering workshops and that is a wedding. A wedding delivers a number of different things, for example an opportunity to invite friends and relations and to enjoy the event together and this could be considered a type of service, particularly if organised by a hotel. It’s not the type of deliverable which is an item which you can hand over, but when the visitors go home satisfied, they have had a service delivery.

But a key part of a wedding is the very public and formal recording of the change of status of two individuals to one couple. Quite apart from their satisfaction of planning their lives together, there is a very strong legal change of status which happens in this situation. In many countries, if one of a married couple dies, what they owned passes to the other person automatically, which does not happen if they were not married.

So we have three types of project deliverables. The first example was furniture being delivered, a meal being delivered or some other item that can be handed over.

Then we looked at services, for example extending an existing insurance offering so that it covers people of a younger age group. When the extended service is ready to be offered, then that’s the end of the project that was used to develop and introduce the service.

Or the hotel guests at the wedding get a service, including not just the food but the delivery in a pleasant atmosphere, hopefully leaving satisfied.

Then the third category is the change of state where we looked at two examples: testing of material in a factory before it shipped. The product is the same but the fact that it has been tested is a change of state.

And the other example we had was the legal side of a wedding because it has a big impact on many aspects of life, for example inheritance.

Relaunch of Scatterwork Newsletter

Photo by terimakasih

Scatterwork’s contribution to reducing Information Overload

Somebody once said that life is easy: you “do again what works” and you “stop doing what does not work”. It is said that it was Einstein who defined insanity as:

“doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

Personally, I have enormous respect for Einstein, who developed his world-shattering theories sitting alone at home, after his day job as patent agent.  A visit to the Einstein Exhibition at the Historical Museum in Bern, the capital of Switzerland where he worked, is to be recommended.

Of course, getting inspiration for “what works” depends on easy access to ideas, opinions, events, contacts etc.

Like any business, Scatterwork has its strengths and resources, which make it easier for clients to “do again what works” when implementing projects.  The Website presents our services and the Newsletter shares events, opinions and thoughts so taken together, a link to the searchable archive should make it easier for anyone to identify what we do and decide if it is relevant for them.

This means that the regular issue of the newsletter is an important part of our contribution to “thought leadership” in Scatterwork’s area of expertise, Projects and reduction in Information Overload.

The Newsletter publication has been revamped

To relaunch the Newsletter, a survey of issues which have caused the newsletter not to be published regularly has been carried out and the issues addressed.  This post represents the Relaunch of the Scatterwork Newsletter, which:

  • Consolidates links to new posts (like this one) which have been issued since the last edition.
  • Mails them to our subscribers.  The mailing list itself has also been re-initiated to meet the demands of GDPR and some technical issues which were flagging our mails as spam have been resolved.
  • Places them in the archive, which can also be linked from the website footer.

The Scatterwork website has been restructured

The website should also make it easy to find out what Scatterwork does.  In the light of developments in communications (particularly the shift to mobile devices for browsing) and the development of our client base, the website has been restructured to:

  • to simplify access to information about our commonest services
  • to position the website for a future template update, to leverage from the new editor in WordPress.

Please help us to spread the word!

If you receive this post by email, you are already on our mailing list. To help your colleagues also to be aware of how Scatterwork might be relevant for them, please:

  • review who you know:
    • in another company
    • in the same region or country as you
    • who is involved in projects
  • forward this link Newsletter Sign-up Form to them.

And please do tell us what project topics you would like us to address, thank you.

3 Tips for faster Virtual Team Problem Solving

Problem solving can require thousands of personal transactions or messages and research has even higher messaging levels. So every transaction delay time adds to the time it takes to get solutions.

We can see that with this transaction path diagram where the message goes from one person to the second to the third – all of them searching for the solution and every time hopefully they get a little closer to it.

But is there is a big problem: it can take thousands of these transactions. A day has over 86,000 seconds so if the reaction times take days instead of seconds, the solution time increases by a factor of tens of thousands.

So the 1st tip is that business users should learn from social media users, who react in seconds. For example on facebook you get immediate answers. “React in seconds”.

The 2nd tip: use collaborative applications which generate email notifications and that everybody can work on the same ideas and documents at once. For example, Google Docs for text documents, Mindmeister for mindmaps, Cacoo for drawings; Basecamp for Project Management, Questetra for Workflows and so on.

Then the 3rd tip is: that each person turns on all the notifications and forwards them automatically to on inbox, and then here’s the big one: test all the communication pairs between yourself and everyone else, so that if you send a message that they get an email notification that doesn’t go into to spam, for example.

Because if it does, its delay there of days makes it impossible to solve the problems. Not just difficult, but impossible. And then of course, when you get a notification click on it immediately because it will bring usually directly to where the topic is within the application, which saves your user time.

So if you found this issue of interest or you have any other project issues, please feel free to contact me. Thanks very much.

Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at
ScatterworkOnline Training for Project Management & Team Building

Tel: +41 79 692 4735

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