Boltić: What was the specific experience you had with Scatterwork and what was the project that time?
Winwood: Sure, no problem at all. I used to work with a company DSM Nutritional Products who were based in Kaiseraugst in Switzerland. And they decided that they had a need for specific project management training, which they certainly did, and decided to call on an expert to do that.
The problem was what they didn’t want was a just a manual and a boring list of to do’s. They wanted something that would actually apply to the situation that we were working at the time and then practical and could be used afterwards. And that’s why Scatterwork was chosen.
Boltić: So in specific, how how did Scatterwork meet those expectations and what were the specific benefits that you can draw out of this training?
Winwood: OK, we had a mixed group of I suppose around about 20 people who were involved in the training which took place over three days in total.
And the key thing was that you could take away something you could use straight away from that process, bearing in mind the people who attended the training hadn’t had any formal project management training at all.
I don’t think anybody had that particular career, so it was new to all of us but it was particularly important that we could then take what we’d learnt and use it straight away. And I guess what was key in the training itself was that we used real examples throughout.
It wasn’t example stuff; it was real things that happen in our day to day work.
Boltić: So are there any additional impressions that you would like to share about Scatterwork and working with them?
Winwood: Yeah, when we did the training to be absolutely honest with you I had absolutely no idea what to expect and I don’t think anybody else did. It always helps to have an empathetic trainer, somebody who is enthusiastic and friendly but firm when he needed to be and we certainly got that with Scatterwork and I think we all appreciated that.
And it was done in detail, it was done in a logical fashion so everybody could follow without knowing any of the background whatsoever. So unusually in that, that you can take something from ground zero and basically leave the training at the end of the time with something you can practically use straight away.
Boltić: Thank you so much for doing this interview with us.
Winwood: You’re very welcome.
Guest: Dr Rob Winwood, Proprietor at Winwood Bioscience, Helions Bumpstead, Haverhill, UK
Interviewed by: Dr Zorana Boltić, Aim Professional, Project Management and Lean Six Sigma Consultant and Trainer on behalf of Scatterwork GmbH
A seminar is an event where the participants interact intensely with each other over several hours or days to improve their understanding of a particular topic, or maybe work together to find solutions.
It is much more than a video conference or webinar, even though the technology used may be the same as for video conferences, but the management of the interactions is far more varied and intense.
This challenge is topical because of the very significant change in attitude to remote seminars which has been driven by the Covid-19 pandemic.
I have often heard that in this or that particular country the people prefer to interact face-to-face and as a result it’s not possible to deliver at seminars remotely.
As recently as last week, I contributed to a seminar which was originally scheduled to take place in Malaysia. Because of the pandemic the client accepted that travel was not possible so the event was moved online.
The participants were from Bangladesh, China, Japan, UAE and Indonesia so the amount of travel, time, cost and carbon emissions which would have resulted from a traditional face-to-face project seminar was considerable.
It suited both the client company and the participants for different reasons to hold the seminar remotely.
During the Covid-19 pandemic millions of people in business, schools and universities have started working from home, so-called remote working, home office and so on. The result is that they are much more familiar with the remote conferencing which is an important enabler of remote seminars.
This is very similar to the situation years ago in the United States when Bell Telephones made a marketing decision that local calls would be free. Any of us who have watched American films or have been there will recognize that the telephone is used very extensively for long discussions, even between people who live next door to each other the marketing decision drove the familiarity.
The widespread acceptance and usage of teleconferencing has been different. It is only in the last decade or so that most business people have easy access both to smartphones and laptop computers as well as broadband internet connection, which is available nearly everywhere including shops, trams, airports, city centres etc.
Although the technology to support seminars remotely became available over the last decade or so, actually using it to deliver seminars remotely has had a lot of resistance.
I am going to talk briefly about three topics related to delivering seminars remotely successfully.
The Logistical Challenges
The Human Factor
“For and Against”.
The Logistical Challenges
The logistical challenge is the first thing, because if the tools don’t work everybody gets frustrated and abandons the effort. The first priority is a standard interface using a selected app which everybody uses.
Everyone is familiar with Skype, Zoom, WebEx and so on but you cannot have a mixture of these on a call. Someone must decide which one to use.
Many familiar apps require a download which is not allowed in many corporate environments. Even if you are allowed to download the app, not everyone is an IT expert and knows how to configure it.
As well as the same app for everyone participating in the seminar remotely they all need microphones and cameras.
These are both on smartphones and laptop computers but casual use is often not so very satisfactory. For example the camera on a laptop usually points upwards to the speaker, looking from under their chin this and the shadows on their face from the lighting above do not look very good.
Getting the microphone to work is also a challenge because there are so many possible settings, some of which interfere with others. As with the camera, what works technically may not have high enough quality, so the microphone in the laptop computer is better replaced by a headset, both for sound quality and to reduce background noise. So the camera and microphone may work technically but not always very satisfactorily.
A third challenging logistic aspect is having a quiet location without visual distractions. If we’re working in an open plan office it can be very disturbing to others to hear us delivering or participating in a seminar remotely.
If we’re working from home or near an open window or in a café there can be a lot of background noise. I was on a remote seminar which had very pleasant Indian music in the background – lovely but not in the right place.
In another conference one of the participants was on a motorbike taxi in Paris which they use when traffic is very dense. Not surprisingly the background noise dominated the communications.
So to summarise the logistics, there are at least three challenges of delivering seminars remotely.
All participants must have the following: the same app installed on their computer or phone and know how to use it. Although I have no commercial connection with them, my tips are to use Demio for delivering seminars remotely and Whereby for conferences because access to all of the features: voice, video, shared screen, shared application etc are all accessed simply through a browser without any download. This increases the reliability significantly.
They need good microphones and cameras and need to be familiar how to use them. Although not essential, it can detract from a seminar if their quality and user experience is limited.
And the third thing is a quiet location with broadband internet access that doesn’t have distracting background noise and where children don’t come running in and where no dog is barking in the background.
Of these three points only the first one can be managed directly by the seminar leader; the others depend on local support together with connectivity tools provided by the app. The challenge is making sure that you have someone on the receiving end who is actively managing these points.
The Human Factor
Now to the Human Factor, where the biggest challenge of delivering seminars remotely is a lack of acceptance that it can be done or that it works.
This is similar to the introduction of email. I remember that the pharmaceutical industry was very slow because they were worried their secrets could be emailed out to competitors very easily. This meant the sector was maybe several years behind others in introducing email.
After the Covid-19 pandemic, certainly a lot of people are more accepting of the technology that’s available, so that’s one less challenge for delivering remote seminars.
The general opinion is that the acceptance among the millions who are now familiar with some of the tools has increased dramatically which means that there are opportunities for transferring seminars into a remote format. As recently as last month I was involved in negotiation with an organization which assumed that a seminar delivered remotely was the same as spending several hours passively in a webinar delivered by Zoom.
In a seminar the participants usually need some way of interacting in groups and a typical webinar format, where there are one or two presenters sharing their knowledge, answering questions which have been sent in by participants using the chat channel.
The basic difference between this and the seminar is the depth and time dedicated to directing interaction among the participants, so my big tip here is to put participants into teams so they interact with each other.
I recommend not specifying how they interact but leaving it to them to work out for themselves whether they use telephone, email, teleconference and so on. By putting them in teams and asking them to interact with each other and then to present their results or ideas on PowerPoint about a given topic which they can email back to you, the dynamic changes completely compared with a webinar or a lecture.
The same logistics challenges exist as mentioned already because the breakout teams can’t be guaranteed to have good leadership or familiarity with the tools. Delivering seminars remotely with this approach increases the acceptance because the tool, Zoom or whatever, is mostly used to coordinate participant action and is not used for contact 100% of the time.
The second challenge under the human factor heading is familiarity with the tools.
I’ve often had the experience of remote seminars where somebody’s connection didn’t work. For some reason they always think it’s the fault of the person at the other end. I had one colleague in Australia who got really annoyed with me because his connection didn’t work.
My tip in these situations is to tell them that it’s working for everybody else so the problem must be at their end. Unfortunately a lot of seminar participants don’t accept that and just wait until something happens.
The best solution is to tell everybody that both ends of the communication must seek to renew contact actively if the communication breaks down. Of course the technology is improving all the time.
Another example in Google Meet is the automatic generation and translation of subtitles when you talk. Maybe not perfect but certainly enough to help in a mixed language situation.
Another feature is the replacement of background in the video of the speaker. You may be sitting in front of a distracting background but that is replaced dynamically by some other picture. This is really convenient because you could be in a hotel or an airport or in the kitchen but you don’t need to show this to the people at the other end. The tip is to make sure that the background doesn’t distract and then nobody will notice it.
“For and Against”
In my experience people who have met each other once, even for a cup of coffee, have a very good chance of working well together remotely. It might be very pleasant to have face-to-face seminars but they can be certainly done very effectively online.
Another advantage is that each person can access the seminar from wherever they are and not necessarily from home. This simplifies the logistics and means that it’s easier and takes less time to participate.
Another advantage is that because each participant has their own log on, each person can see who else is involved, because the names are usually shown on the screen online. If you have several people sharing a microphone like they used to on telephone conferences, you don’t know who is online and you probably can’t hear them very well either.
Of course particularly if people are traveling from a distance to meet each other, avoiding flights saves time, money as well as carbon emissions and particularly for long-distance fights.
Of the disadvantages, delivering seminars remotely misses the equivalent of standing in a queue for coffee and chatting.
I once had a colleague in Spain who complained that the difficulty with our communication was that we drank our coffee in different countries.
Seminar participants also need to solve problems. When they work together physically, they can judge each other’s mood and interest by the body language which is missing when they work remotely. This makes it hard to negotiate so for a lot of people.
Another disadvantage is that a seminar at a corporate head office would be an occasion for them to meet various colleagues outside the seminar. Without travel, that doesn’t happen.
So to summarize the challenges of delivering seminars remotely, they fall into logistic and human areas.
In the logistics area, a lot has to do with the organization making sure people have the same app, they have microphones and simple things like that. It’s easy in principle but the challenge is to make it actually happen.
On the human side there has been a lot of resistance for a long time to delivering seminars remotely but the Covid-19 pandemic has made a lot of people familiar with the technology and this means that the main human issues are more to do with familiarity with the methods than they were before.
Presented by Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir, Principal of Scatterwork at Infotech ICT 2020, the international conference and exhibition in Belgrade
Boltić: Hello Zoltan. I am very happy that we’re doing this interview and I would like to ask you if you would like to share some of your experience which you had previously with Scatterwork – mainly when was it, where was it and what was the particular project that you were working on at the time?
Lorantffy: Sure, so this would have been in Budapest Hungary back in 2007-2008 and the assignment was centered around training and solutions and so Deasún was also a facilitator and at the time I was the general manager at IIL for Budapest Hungary and he came in and was training our clients on project management using Scatterwork.
Boltić: And talking about the approach, is there something specific that you would like to share as beneficial considering the way it was delivered by Scatterwork?
Lorantffy: Yeah, we found that based on all of our client feedback, and there were certain things that we had there, the entire experience from beginning to end was very well ranked and that included the contents, it included delivery, it included the facilitator of course, Deasún was very integral in leading us from beginning to end.
The process, the logic behind it and of course you know how applicable are those learnings in the business world and so we found that the entire experience from beginning to end was ranked very high.
Boltić: Hi Milan, thank you so much for doing this interview with us.
First of all I would like to ask you if you could describe what was your experience with Scatterwork in the first place?
Šmigić: Thank you, Zorana, for inviting me. It was 2014 here in Belgrade where we organized the first Project Society Conference and with participating speakers from different European countries including Scatterwork.
We had an opportunity to further promote the project management profession and also the PMI, the main organization that we all belong to. Also the interesting topic for our participants was a panel discussion where Scatterwork was one of the major presenters: how to apply project management in government sector where we actually had our discussions and received a strong feedback by the participating members of our organization.
Boltić: So could you share some impressions about that panel discussion and how Scatterwork contributed to the society?
Šmigić: As it was our first international conference we had a strong positive feedback for more than 140 participants and we actually received additional members and we received very strong background from the Scatterwork experienced professionals, showing us
how to work in remote teams,
how to participate in government projects
how to relate to companies, both in public and global sector as project management and portfolio management professionals.
Boltić: So at the end, are there any takeaways that you would like to share from that particular panel?
Šmigić: Our idea was to invite Scatterwork to help us further promote our profession and we actually achieved our new members and we increased the number of participants within our conferences by sharing the knowledge and experience provided by Scatterwork.
Boltić: Thank you so much Milan for sharing this with us.
Guest: Milan Šmigić, CEO CPM Belgrade and Visiting Professor, Politecnico di Torino
Interviewed by: Dr Zorana Boltić, Aim Professional, Project Management and Lean Six Sigma Consultant and Trainer on behalf of Scatterwork GmbH
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?
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
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
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
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
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.
you very much.
Interviewer: Dr. Zorana Boltić PMP Interviewee: Mario Gil Fernandez MSc PMP
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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
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.
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.
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.