TitleAerotoxic Syndrome Collection on
Published18/10/2015 9:51 PM
CategoryAviation; Health; Opinions; Ideas

Things are only random until we see the pattern.... SJG October 2015

TitleTaking a look at safety in air travel
Published1/08/2015 3:47 PM
CategoryIdeas; Opinions

​​We all do it! Well quite a few of us do...

According to the Internation Air Transport Association (IATA) in a recent press release​ the world was well on the way to 3.3 billion passenger journeys by air during 2014 and it estimated that there would be 7.3 billion per year by 2034.

That is an amazing number of people taking 1 or more journeys by air and being subjected to a number of short-term risks during the travel event and potentially having other issues to contend with later.

All's well that ends well

​When we reach our destination, we generally relax a bit, recover from the travel experience and then get back to daily life. For the vast majority of passengers and crew-members the flighst go well and they safely reach their destination. We may consider them to be safe travel events that have ended well.

​​The few....

I'm not referring to Winston Churchill's speech following the Battle of Britain in the Second World War. Instead I am focusing on the few (number unknown) for whom it doesn't necessarily end well at the end of the flight.

Since before 1999 and a study undertaken by Dr Harry Hoffman, Professor Chris Winder and Jean Christophe Balouet, Ph.D, there have been concerns regarding the possibility of negative long-term health effects from air travel. However, in their report Aerotoxic Syndrome: Adverse health effects following exposure to jet oil mist during commercial flights.​ they coined a term that has come to be adopted within the industry of "Aerotoxic Syndrome". 

A few people become unwell following continued air travel and in February 2015 a UK Coroner put British Airways and the UK Civil Aviation Authority on notice through requesting their attention to Prevention of Future Deaths through a formal notice in his findings relating to the death of a 42 year old British Airways pilot, Richard Westgate. There have also been reported deaths of cabin crew where similar symptoms and loss of life have occurred.

Moreover, for every death there seem to be 10s of people who are suffering from the symptoms of aerotoxic syndrome.

The investigations to date

The aviation industry has not ignored the issue and have set up investigations and inquiries into the possible causes - in the main they have been linked to a specific source of possible contamination in the form of compressed air from the aircraft engines (engine bleed air) being used to ventilate and pressurise the aircraft. It is known that from time to time there can be contamination of this air source through 'fume events' where there is the smell of burning oil in the aircraft.

A desktop review was carried out by the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority and reported in 2009 Contamination of aircraft cabin air by bleed air – a review of the evidence based on an the collaboration of an Expert Panel on Aircraft Air Quality.

From the report, the problem was described as:

Irritant effects: itchy, red, weeping eyes: “scratchy” sensation in throat, swelling of throat (sometimes with altered taste): respiratory symptoms, tightness in chest, red and itchy skin. 

Central Nervous System (CNS) effects: loss of recent memory, poor concentration, increased lethargy, neuromuscular incoordination, confusion and headaches. 

With the report noting that "Despite the large amount of information available to the Panel, there remain many unanswered questions in seeking to understand the potential for exposures to engine oil in aircraft cabins and the acute and chronic effects on a person’s health as the result of such exposures", it suggested "Carbon monoxide (CO) and organophosphate derivatives remain the most likely contaminants documented"

​The Panel limited the scope of this review to cabin air contamination due to internal leakage of chemicals into the air conditioning system. The review excluded consideration of the health effects of allergens, microorganisms and chemical contamination from external sources. ​​

What was missing from the reviews?

It seems that the first thing missing was human physiological data. The hunt for the cause didn't include collection and interpretation of data relating to the human impact.

The second thing that was missing was a systems thinking approach to the problem. It seens that the cause had been determined as being the bleed air and the evidence was being sought around that predetermined 'fact'.

The Aviation eco-system has many more facets and potential sources of contaminaton that such a narrow focus might lead to a failure to find the facts.

What next?

Having taken a look through some of the reports to date and with some practical knowledge of testing that can measure human uptake of Carbon Monoxide, we have the opportunity to think differently and to consider better evidence and seek to find the real smoking 'gun(s)' in Aerotoxic Syndrome.

Advances in diagnosis and monitoring of patients with Carbon Monoxide poisoning and Firefighters at major incidents mean that there may now be further ways to assess the causes and complex ecosystems surrounding Aerotoxic syndrome.

Please take a look at this "Sway Presentation​" for more information.​


TitleProblem Project? - Get me a Nurse!
Published6/01/2015 1:17 PM
Categorychange management; Ideas; Opinions
This isn't intended to be a comprehensive and well-researched piece; it should get people thinking about parallel roles in the work-place and support the idea of looking for similarity in experience rather than difference. When you work with your colleagues, why not consider what useful stuff they bring from their previous careers? It could be the making of your team to appreciate the skills that they have as much as the ones that they've been employed for.

Classic Irony

18 years ago I left my last Nursing-related role where I was supporting the implementation of ward and theatre nursing systems. It has taken the passage of those years to see why it makes sense for me to be in project management. The education/training and experience I received as a Nurse prepared a lot of the ground and allowed me to make some great mistakes on my change and project journey. Fortunately no-one died or was injured in the writing of that history.

​So what good reason would I have for wanting a nurse to run a project?

​Plenty of reasons and I'll start with common ground...

What do Nurses and Project Managers have in common?​  

  1. Well there's the good old iron triangle for starters; both have to balance time, cost and quality.
  2. Then there are the process perspectives of projects (Management Control, Benefits Management, Financial Management, Stakeholder Engagement, Risk Management, Organisational Governance and Resource Management. To a greater or lesser extent these describe the key processes in any organisation (not just Portolio, Program and Project structures).    

  • Management Control including the prioritisation of care for multiple patients with predictable and unpredictable changes is non-stop.
  • Nurses are constantly outcome focused for their patients - they want to see the best and for the patient to gain the optimum benefit that they can from the care that they can give.
  • Financial Management is consistently in the front of mind in both the public and private health sectors - possibly a little more so for the latter where typically every last dressing and pill can have a cost associated with it. Certainly those nurses leading a team in ward, clinic or theatre will be across a degree of financial management.
  • Nurses have to manage one of the vastest arrays of stakeholders that exists - and it  is one that constantly changes as patients, medical staff and relatives come and go.
  • Risk Management is second nature and so is issue identification. From safe handling of patients, through administration of drugs (with potential interactions) to identifying cardiac/tissue viability/self-harm risks, nurses are constantly aware of what can go wrong and often what actually will.
  • Organisational governance may not look as if it is a good fit; however, nurses understand specific roles, hierachical positions and also when to 'talk truth to power'.
  • Finally from this list of seven perspectives comes a big one... Resource management! Running a team of nursing staff with common and different skills and experiences to match the expected ebb and flow of patients coming through a department or a ward is not just luck. There are all the human factors and ensuring that there isn't an oppositional team on shift together, cost control, management of leave and sickness plus the need to help the team debrief from critical incidents. Nurses get resource management.

Project-like roles in a ward environment

  • Patient Care Assistants/Auxillaries are project resources assigned on a task by task basis to the different projects (patients). As they gain experience they may take on specific project coordination roles as well...
  • The junior nurse may be a project manager with a group of patients who are the projects in her/his care. Each one will have their own intended outcome, timeline, quality imperatives and associated cost - mind you the focus to control cost will be to reduce the time needed whilst maintaining the quality of the outcome.
  • The more senior nurse will be a program manager and may have a few less-dependent patients but will oversee one or more junior nurses/PMs and ensure that the resources are shared across the program (their wing of the ward, their shift, etc) appropriately and dynamically.
  • The Charge Nurse is more akin to the Portfolio Manager - seeking the direction from the Subject Matter Experts (Doctors and allied health professionals) and Governance structure (organisational management) and ensuring compliance with standards and protocols whilst having overall budgetary and management control.
  • All of these roles will be undertaking risk and stakeholder management to a certain extent - varying degrees of complexity accompanying each layer in the model.

Could there be any other reasons for using a nurse for project management?


  • With people - Nurses are natural connectors and can complement or criticise change initiatives - always good to have them actively involved in the changes that affect them or others - they will always assess for the impact of change.
  • Of facts and figures and trends and 'stuff' - there is an interesting ability to spot the connections between a whole series of disparate data. Nurses look for the connections all the time, between signs and symptoms, drugs and their interactions, environment and personal condition; whilst not endless there is a long list of things that they are used to considering - they often see the metanarrative of the patient problem and work within the bigger picture rather than just seek treatment for the symptoms.


  • Love it or hate it, Nurses have to document almost everything; literally. Which means they have to be observers and interpreters
  • And with the documentation comes the need for confidenitality - they get what can be shared and what can not.

Problem identification

  • ​Nurses have patient risks that turn into issues on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. This means that they are well experienced in categorising and describing problems as well as finding solutions that will work.

Why not use a nurse for project management?

  • Firstly, because we often seem to have too few to run the health services that we rely on. But maybe some judicious use of those who have suffered physical injury but still have all these fantastic project management skills can be good for everybody. A win:win!
  • Secondly, because they are used to running lots of concurrent projects at a really fast pace - they see the overall benefits being accrued on a daily basis whereas in business and technical projects it can be weeks, months or years to accrue benefits. Mind you, perhaps we need to use their outcome focus to improve the way we look to add as much value as possible, as soon as possible whilst ensuring that quality outcomes are maintained.
  • Lastly; well perhaps you have some good reasons not to use them that you would like to share here? Or some other positive
    observations as to why we should use them? Over to you!
TitleLeadership factors
Published29/09/2014 5:29 PM
CategoryOpinions; Ideas

Good Leader.jpeg
Questions on Leadership Factors:

  1. ​Which ones have priority?
  2. How does priority change with circumstance?
  3. What circumstances can actually redefine the priority?
  4. Are there other factors around the good leader that make them so? If so, what are they?
We'll try a social experiment on this and see if any answers come out in the wash....

Watch this space....

TitleSpeed and Green Lights
Published8/09/2014 7:47 PM
CategoryIdeas; Opinions
In Three Greens and All Locked Up we talked about projects where all the status reports were continuously green-lighted…
This sparked a conversation with a colleague – we realised the parallel for the movie 'Speed' – you'll remember the plot…
Ticking time bomb, not able to slow down, fear all round, all the traffic lights being changed to green to let the bus keep running on and on until they could figure out a solution…
Well guess what, let's go back to the traffic lights a moment…
all the traffic lights being changed to green to let the bus keep running…
Is that what it's all about? 
  • People too afraid to stop? 
  • Having to change the lights to green to maintain momentum?
  • ​Not knowing what the solution is before they start?
Now, sometimes it's OK not knowing what the final solution is if you have a clear plan for finding out, you've got enough in reserve for any detours and you've defined what good looks like so you'll spot it when you see it. But even better if you have defined what bad looks like so that you can avoid or stop short of it… That would be good governance…

But our 'Speed' projects are the opposite; in these ones it really is likely that:
  • people are too afraid to stop
  • people are having to change the lights to green
  • people are trying to maintain momentum
Odds are that this is the case for many projects where ego is put before effectiveness; where looking good is more important than doing it right…
Thankfully this isn't the case for the majority of projects; but the minority is big enough to seriously threaten the integrity of the good ones – more traffic light troubles if the project managers and their supporting governance structures are less than transparent and continue to graffiti the status reports with green paint where amber and red should take their rightful and helpful place…
After all, when you come to a junction, it's the red and amber lights that protect you, not the green ones…

it's the red and amber lights that protect you, not the green ones…

TitleThree Greens and All Locked Up
Published8/09/2014 7:36 PM
CategoryIdeas; Opinions

​​In flying parlance 'three greens and all locked up' used to be a good thing. The undercarriage was safely stowed away and the flight was proceeding safely…

In project-land this may not be the case.


Under-reporting of issues and risks!

Projects that consistently report 'three greens' may well be going nowhere – they could be completely locked up!

Whilst at a glance a set of status traffic lights that are all green may make people think that a project is going well, for us it is a warning sign.

In first aid, triage is taught on the basis of check out the quiet ones first; they may be suffocating or lacking blood. The noisier ones are generally less likely to have problems.

So it can be with projects. Mature PMs are likely to show where they have problem areas so that the governance structure can be used effectively to encourage the removal of barriers. Mature project owners and sponsors will be OK with honesty and transparency; it seems that the more mature they are, the more comfortable they are with admitting that not everything is perfect and that they might need to call for assistance with dealing with problems. If they have integrity then they will act with transparency.

If they have integrity then they will act with transparency…

Often we've heard it said 'We can't put risks and issues down in the logs; we've been told not to…' We've been told on Multi$M projects 'I don't want more than twenty risks…'

I don't want more than twenty risks…

We've seen too many projects that have reported green lights all the way through only to fail to deliver the outcomes or the deliverables, cost way too much or worse still be a public embarrassment.

So it might be that as we look at projects we should rethink the words 'locked up'; if we think 'going nowhere' then we may be right…

Projects that consistently report 'three greens' may well be going nowhere – they could be completely locked up!

TitleDirecting the Traffic - duty in the PMO
Published9/08/2013 3:07 AM
Categorychange management; Ideas; Opinions

From a group discussion on LinkedIn:

A good manager who can manage a process, take criticism, adapt to circumstance and who will accept existing frameworks (e.g Managing Successful Programs/PRINCE2) will be a good PMO Manager.

Why MSP and/or PRINCE2 and not PMBOK?

Well, PMBOK or similar will provide the toolset to a lesser or greater extent.

Frameworks such as MSP/PRINCE2 provide the flow within which to use the tools….

Why is this important?​

When I worked in Cardiac Surgery Theatres, there were many, many tools to be applied to keep a patient alive and to improve their condition.

Surgeons and Anaesthetists plus those of us who supported them had a fantastic body of knowledge that had been refined over time in its application to surgical procedures and had been sequenced for the optimum results. There were not only knowledge and tools but a clear framework within which to use them.

I can argue that given my exposure to the body of knowledge and the regular interaction with the tools of cardiac surgery, I could probably have pretty good go at undertaking a coronary artery bypass. Would that be desirable? Well I wouldn't mind; what about the patient…..? There are governance and process frameworks that protect the innocent from misadventure and misrepresentation.

So to me it is with the PMO or Enterprise Portfolio Management Office; there are both bodies of knowledge and refined frameworks to apply them in.

I know some good PMO Managers who have little in terms of certification but do have the naus to apply the frameworks and make sure that at least some of us lunatics who take over the assylum have been properly diagnosed with the skills to achieve good results within their application of the processes…..​

TitleCategorising – CCP(TM) – Requirements Areas
Published7/07/2013 3:12 AM
Categorychange management; Ideas; Opinions

© Engaged Projects,  2009 as part of the  Change- Centric  Project(TM) approach.

As part of the categorisation of problems, requirements, solutions and benefits – alongside the STEEPLES approach it is good to look at the sub-domains that apply. These are the Requirements Areas that are important to consider in most if not all projects.

Here's the list that we use to help us to help your organisation be organised:

  • Hardware
  • Software
  • Process
  • Physical
  • Operating Characteristics
  • Occupational Health and Safety
  • Integration
  • Sustainability
  • Reuse
  • Contractual
  • Operational Change
  • Resources
  • Finance
  • Training
  • Installation
  • Locations

Whilst it's not exhaustive, it certainly helps us to ensure that we're working on common ground.

When it comes to Assets we use the commonly-adopted ITIL asset descriptors:

  • Management
  • Organisation
  • Process
  • Knowledge
  • People
  • Information
  • Applications
  • Infrastructure
  • Financial Capital

TitleDescribing Benefits, Deliverables, Issues and Risks – Categories that fit them all
Published7/06/2013 3:09 AM
CategoryIdeas; Opinions

​It's an interesting thing that we've noticed in some organisations… There's a tendency to treat Risks, Issues Opportunities, Benefits and Deliverables in isolation from eachother. And that's even when most PMs should be able to identify that Risks that occur (are realised) are Issues that need to be resolved.

It is not unheard of for organisations to categorise the type of risk, issue, benefit, opportunity and deliverable in different ways. In other words the meta-data describing these things is not consistent.

One way to avoid this is to adopt a structured approach to modeling the world around us and then sticking to that model across all the different areas of interest in the project.

At engagedprojects we have adopted a simple assessment that some others also use… It has been improved from the PEST analysis (Political, Economic, Social and Technical) – we prefer to use the STEEPLES model which expands the vectors to:

  • Sociological / social pressures & trends
  • Technological
  • Environmental / ecological
  • Economic
  • Political
  • Legal
  • Ethical
  • Sustainability

What we definitely do is to apply these to our thinking and modeling across and through projects. We'd recommend using this approach and would be delighted to assist your organisation in applying the approach to help standardise project thinking and business outcomes.

TitleRisky World
Published26/08/2012 3:03 AM
Categorychange management; Ideas; Opinions

See this discussion on LinkedIn under the Project Management in-depth study sub-group.

Risk Management is complex enough and in reviewing a link to a MindMap that had just a concept and then a little content, a longer risk discussion has started to evolve.

Mitigants .v. Management

Well, this should be pretty simple as a discussion, shouldn't it?!

After all, mitigants are one of the methods used to manage risk. They're part of the armoury at the project manager's fingertips.

Both of the above are correct but they're not the whole picture.

  1. Project Managers are (should be) subject matter experts (SMEs) in the management of projects. This doesn't automatically make them  SMEs in the whole content of the project. Therefore it is likely that a PM will not be able to identify all of the possible mitigants to risks. Equally, they are unlikely to be able to identify all the risks on their own.
  2. The PM has the arsenal of weapons that the Project Board gives them -I've been in too many projects where the project board really only gave me a lettuce leaf (and a floppy one at that) to try to mitigate some major risks – there was nothing substantial that they would allow me to do to help mentor the SMEs in the identification, analysis, evaluation, mitigation and management of risks. Too many was actually one or two projects in the same environment. I was expected to run the project without any risks, to time and budget but without any changes to scope or schedule as risks (that were not to be acknowledged) became issues that in turn impacted the time, cost and quality of the project.

Poor habits that I've encountered through my own mistakes and the approaches of others

  • For some, management of risks is carried out based on the initial analysis and evaluations – they don't look at the residual risk once one or more mitigants have been applied. So a risk can be really high at initial identification but with effective mitigants becomes lower…
    What can occur is that the risks that have started off high remain the focus and those that can't be mitigated so well, that may have been lesser at identification but now have a higher residual risk are ignored or aren't escalated.
  • Failure to inform the board of the overall number of risks in play – I've had times when I almost kept the numbers hidden (mostly as above where they were not to be admitted by the project board). If the culture isn't right then it isn't possible to manage risks. A classic case of the "Emporer with no clothes".
  • For years, I have tended to present only critical risks to the Project Board…. Happily, I've recognised a weakness in this strategy….


Methods for successfully highlighting risk constellations to project boards

  • I now present the most critical (highest score, closest proximity) and also provide a mapping of categories and criticality so that I can see where my projects' greatest number of risks are…. So it will show Critical, High, Medium and Low priority against the main categories (e.g. Strategic, People, Technical, Financial, Legal, etc). This now allows me to show where the greatest numerical risk applies – it's not just about severity of individual risks; it's also about overall exposure.
  • Simple visuals, 'cubing' the risk data through pivot tables so that the extent of the risks within categories and priority becomes really clear to the project board and team – "where's the overall risk concentrated?" is a question that can expose the program or strategic risk that a project is subject to…. The number of risks in a certain vector can be a risk in itself.Risk Constellation Map for article
  • This gives a very clear picture that the technical risks for the project are the ones to be managed and with four "lows" that could combine with the three "medium" and one "high" some serious work needs to be done in this particular vector. Traditionally, the project board may only have been presented with the two "highs" with the project manager and team needing to try and manage the rest. Armed with this constellation map, the PM can assist the project board in resourcing activity in the best vector for optimum result – the strategic high risk item is still important but the technical components need more action.

Ensuring that those who govern remain accountable for risk

This should be common sense – but all too often it becomes the preserve (or in fact demise) of the PM whereby the project board gives accountability and responsibility for risk to the PM. Day to day responsibility for risk management is rightly the PMs – it's part of what we are paid to do. However, bottom line is that the project board (or other aptly named governing body) has the final accountability to the project and to the organisation. Good communication of roles (preferably with role descriptions) should help to minimise the risk of poorly governed risk.

TitleVision from above
Published9/08/2012 2:54 AM
CategoryIdeas; Opinions

From beneath all may look grey and diffused. From above whilst all may not be clear there is a bright blue sky above just waiting to break through.

It takes leadership to see the clarity that may come beyond the fog and clouds.

It also takes real leadership, the kind that Nelson Mandela spoke of, to understand the grey view that team may have.

Let freedom reign. The sun never set on so glorious a human achievement.


If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.


It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.


  • Always give your teams the best view you can from above and help burn out the grey mist and fog so they can share your vision.
  • Give them the freedom to achieve knowing you're looking at the big picture and communicating that to them in their language.
  • Blue Sky thinking is OK when there's a real one above but just a little bit hidden.

TitleDriving your projects
Published21/03/2010 3:58 AM
CategoryIdeas; Opinions

Tuesday, 30 January 2007 (Addenda Saturday, 20 March 2010)

This is not about attacking your project with a hammer and nails, taking a torque driver to nuts or reaching for a screwdriver.

Many of us read the road, adapt to conditions and reach our chosen destination for round about the right cost and near enough on time without anyone dying.

Read on to find out more about the similarities between the rules of the road and project management in action as seen through the eyes of engagedprojects.
Many of us do it every day – we jump in to our vehicles, take a cursory glance at the dashboard to check that there are no urgent warnings, perhaps look at the fuel guage and then set off on our journey.

Project management isn't so different. A project can be a bit of a journey that we set out on. We may pick up some passengers on the way – hopefully the sort that contribute to the process and don't just sit in the back like Donkey in Shrek asking, "Are we there yet?'.

In terms of finding an appropriate vehicle for your projects to be successful there are numerous ways that you may choose to travel…

If you like to Barnstorm and 'fly by the seat of your pants' then probably your best option is the biplane of budget and motivation – you may have a thrilling ride and risk crashing with every turn or change of direction. You may even successfully reach the ground again. Likely, you'll find you haven't moved very far and that you've just expended time and fuel… But, "Wow!" what a ride…

Sometimes we can be behind the wheel of a supertanker – it's a BIG project with a kilometre of deck from end to end – a single view from the bridge but really hard to steer and navigate through changing seas.

From a practical view the outcome-focussed approach of PRINCE2 is like driving a well-proportioned and well-specified vehicle – adequate controls, a range of choices to be made and a governance structure that encourages  review of the journey and adjustment of the plan to meet the changing circumstances that we find ourselves in.

A few extra passengers; we can adjust the seating. Need to go faster; we can adjust the rate and look at the fuel consumption. By breaking the journey down into stages we can re-configure, change drivers and refuel as needed.

The product-based approach is applicable to most, if not all, project journeys. It helps to make each step a more confident one by giving the team a measure of what success for that step looks like. It makes it easy to hand over packages of work that are interlinked.

It could be said that the PRINCE2-based project is really like driving a car…

The rules of the road are set by the project board – Speed of the project, what turns can be made and what resources can be consumed. The project board are the 'law-makers' and take the decisions of interpretation when one of the project 'bye-laws' appears to be being threatened or broken. Theirs is the business case, the power and authority. The Project Director can be in place as a friendly traffic cop and the project manager resources the drivers (the project team) and interprets the maps and way-points.

PRINCE2 is one approach to managing projects; scalable, applicable to most situations and very highly recommended.

engagedprojects is happy to recommend and use PRINCE2 in the delivery of projects…

TitleCCP - Change Centric Projects
Published16/05/2009 2:48 AM
Categorychange management; Events

engagedprojects recognises that projects and programs exist to effect change.

Always seeking strategic and operational alignment, engagedprojects work hard to deliver Change Centric ProjectsTM (or CCPTM).

engagedprojects believe that without understanding the overall levels of change (transition plans) projects can become bogged down in politics and business as usual.

An engaged organisation is one where the changes are appreciated in advance and refined through time to constantly improve the appreciation of the change to be undertaken and the effect that the change will have on the operation and culture of the organisation.

engagedprojects believes that in many cases the change should lead the project rather than the project leading the change. To achieve this it is necessary to create a change or transition plan that describes and defines the transitional states, benefits and outcomes that will be sought through the programs and projects.

Change-Centric ProjectsTM are the new way of defining the change first and then handing the Change PackageTM to the program/project managers to deliver.

In a PRINCE2 structure, the Change could be a major part of the Product Breakdown Structure.

In developing the Change-Centric ProjectsTM approach, engagedprojects seeks to refine the art of delivering change and focus on the change itself rather than the mechanisms of delivery,

Ask us how we can work together to help your business deliver Change-Centric ProjectsTM .


'CCP', 'Change-Centric Projects' and 'Change Package' are Copyright © and Trademarked to engagedprojects​ May 2009.

TitleExp3 – Expertise, Experience and Excellence
Published9/08/2007 2:38 AM

​Exp2 is a great concept – the power of combining Expertise and Experience.

engagedprojects has a great deal of Exp2 to offer and relies on its clients' Exp2  to achieve Exp3 through strong engagement in shared activities.

Exp3 comes about through a simple yet startlingly effective approach. It is the adoption of a Taoist concept:

  • Context
  • Connect
  • Engage


Before anything useful can occur, we have to understand eachothers' contexts.

It is simple – the lack of understanding of others and particularly their context is a major foundation of fear, discrimination and war. With knowledge of eachother can come a common purpose – and with that can come connection.

So it is that before we can help eachother and reach a level of trust, we need to understand eachothers' contexts so that we can connect. We have to appreciate the Exp2 that eachother have and see how that might connect us.


Once the contexts are known, the connection can occur – it is not a case of connecting all areas of all organisations to eachother. It is a matter of ensuring that the right connections are in place, knowing how we will communicate with eachother, in terms that we both understand that fit our contexts and that allow us to engage.


Having got to understand the connections between our strategies, capabilities and Exp2s, we can work together to bring eachothers' Expertise and Experience to work towards Excellence – Exp3 becoming the goal for all of us and for all our team members.

The Exp3 concept and engagedprojects​ mark are Copyright © Engaged Projects – 2007

TitleExp2 – Experience and Expertise
Published9/08/2007 2:33 AM

​Exp2 is the power of experience and expertise. All consultancies bring this to bear to a greater or lesser extent in their engagements.

engagedprojects works to ensure that there is a good match between your needs and the Exp2 that it brings to the relationship.

It's part of our integrity to be able to say when that match is not strong enough and to be able to recommend that clients seek the assistance of others. Equally it's part of our skill to ensure that for the majority of clients this is never an issue.

We want you to be certain that the Exp2 factor is appropriate for your needs.

engagedprojects brings expertise in the PRINCE 2 methodology, risk and issues management in both the commercial and public sectors, engagement with stakeholders, procurement of systems and services, development of project management and technical strategy, projects on time and on (or below) budget, happy clients and satisfied teams.

engagedprojects can show experience in the implementation of communications systems, IT systems and applications, process changes, customer transition, web development, project and program management, strategy definition and implementation, team mentoring.

The Exp2 concept and engagedprojects​ mark are Copyright © Engaged Projects – 2007

TitleFlying your Project
Published1/02/2007 5:01 AM
CategoryIdeas; Opinions

Flying your project – Pre-Flight 1 – We're going on a journey

Wednesday, 31 January 2007

We're going from A to B – we've got to get there quickly! We don't want bureaucracy to get in the way and we need to have everything we can possibly think of just in case we need it.

The rational planners amongst us will think that that is a great way to start a project and the logical incrementalists will likely stifle a yawn and think to themselves, "…. here we go again!"

Rational planners tend to believe that to deliver a project you just need to know that we have to go from A to B – a bit like a holiday-maker or a client booking a helicopter ride. They will hopefully recognise that they need to have a pilot, someone who is entrusted with the life of a project, or perhaps a stage of a project.

Even worse can be the intrusion from a key stakeholder who is a bit too much the rational planner constantly asking (like 'Donkey' in the movie, Shrek), 'Are we there yet?'.

Often they will also expect the pilot to not only fly the craft but to be the ground engineer, the winch operator, make the tea and keep the in-flight entertainment going.  Project Manager, Business Analyst, Subject Matter Expert, the lot.

The pilot of the mail helicopter doesn't need to know the contents of every letter and package that the aircraft is carrying. Sure, there needs to be an adequate wrapper, the package needs to be well labeled, addressed and its drop-off point known. It will need to be signed for. But over and above that, if the pilot is delivering the mail that is the task; the point of the process.

Another classic mistake, other than purely overloading the PM, is to assume that any PM can do anything/everything. Thankfully we don't often have recreational pilots flying the Airbus or a 747. Yet for some organisations calling someone a project manager is expected to make it all happen.

Pilots have to learn the basic skills before going solo in a light plane. Then they have to learn how to fly different types, from there they may develop multi-engine skills, move from simple visual flight rules to running on instruments, gain commercial experience, even become an instructor. They are developed every step of the way, they get to know the craft they are flying intimately, memorise the checklists and still read them to be safe. We all have to gain experience and qualifications – take a look at the link to the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM). The AIPM has some of the most stringent conditions for admission to the Register of Project Managers – they go far beyond almost all similar professional qualifications with the strong ties to the Australian Qualification Framework. Project 'Pilots' in training can take their different ratings and are proven fit to fly before they are given the PM wings. It's a good method and is strengthening Project Management as a profession in Australia.

Some project sponsors and stakeholders may not see the need for a team around the project manager – they can do everything, after all – and they will often decry any hint of a bureaucratic process or governance because that keeps the people around them happy; doesn't it?

At engagedprojects we think not.  It doesn't mean excessive form-filling for its own sake; however, to have a structured approach to projects/programs and their governance is a real positive. It can reduce anxiety for team members, stakeholders and clients alike. It's all part of the process.

Another trait that seems to hold true from the rational planning fraternity is that we have to get to B regardless of whether we really can. Rational planning doesn't generally take into account whether or not the end point is really known or not.

Perhaps pilots are logical incrementalists – getting as close to the destination as possible, having some diversion airfields planned in, knowing the way points, where new crew may join them, ensuring enough fuel in reserve for the journey, planning the waypoints where they can review their progress, re-assess their flight-plans and adjust their course to meet the current conditions. Many good PMs are also logical incrementalists – edging towards their destinations rather than jumping in the aircraft and just setting off.

When learning a new piece of music it is often found (and sometimes taught) that the musician should start by practising the end of the piece so that they will recognise it when they get there and know how to finish. Pilots generally have the maps of the destination airfields so that they know how to approach, communicate the end of the flight, land and shut down. Very similar to a good project. The end point of the project has to be the delivery of the new capabilities that allow the benefits to be accrued. We may not be able to tell which runway we will land on at the start of a project, but we can describe the destination in terms of the expected benefits and the capabilities that we will need in order to achieve them.

Perhaps the absence of a known end-point helps to explain (in part) why many politically driven public-sector projects end in something less than success. Multiple teams of staff, in mutiple locations, operating in isolation – delivering a journey where they can not recognise the end of the flight, don't really know what they have to deliver nor how they are to deliver it. They are operating in a foggy project environment2a, 2b.

Of course there is a real benefit in having someone with clarity of vision to be able to set things straight, direct the action and take responsibility for the multiple projects that are flying at any one time. So the next write up will probably be the Project/Program Sponsor as an Air Traffic Controller.

In the meantime, think about your projects as a helicopter trip, make sure the journey is necessary, get the pilot with the right ratings, be prepared to support them, get the pre-flight checks in order, assess the risks, look for any known issues, have some diversion plans ready, fuel up with some reserve in the tanks for things that may go wrong (after all you may have a forecast that says tail-wind and find that the weather changes during the flight).

If you want to know more about the difference between rational planning and logical incremental strategies, we recommend reading the book Understanding Corporate Strategy by Johnson and Scholes3.

1    Big Calm: Part of the Process, Morcheeba, 1998

2a  The Project Workout, Buttrick R, Financial Times/Prentice Hall, London, 2005 (pp127-131), after..

2b  All Change, The Project Leader's Secret Handbook, Obeng E, Pitman Publishing, London, 1994
3    Understanding Corporate Strategy, Johnson G and Scholes K, Financial Times/Prentice Hall, London, 1999 (pp 51-57)​