Five unusual tips to kick-start your international project effectively
Sunday 3 February 2013
by Bob Dignen
Hi I’m Bob Dignen, author of Managing Projects, jointly published by York Associates and Delta Publishing. Myself and my colleague Steve Flinders will be blogging here over the next two months on issues covered in our titles in the International Management English series.
I usually dislike reading articles which serve up an all-too familiar menu of bland tips and tricks on how to achieve success at work. So here’s something a little more counter-intuitive to produce a little bit more food for thought.
1. Remember, your project is not a project.
Yes, I mean what I wrote. I’m not crazy. A project is not simply a project. In fact, it’s much more than that. Major international projects are often strategic change process. And change processes are usually highly charged and conflict-ridden emotional entities not simply a list of project tasks and milestones pointing towards a deadline. Too few project managers understand the emotional landscapes of their projects; too few project managers have the emotional intelligence to manage the feelings side of projects; which is why so many projects fail. If you are running a major project, consult an internal change expert about the emotional obstacles to success which the project may generate.
2. Distrust the people in your team
Let me explain. Those leading large projects often have little control over who comes to participate in their project team. Sometimes, the people populating international project teams are there simply because they’re the only individuals with enough English to participate. Sometimes the people don’t even want to participate; they have to because they occupy a certain role which demands that they take part. And then there are the people really motivated to take part but whose bosses in their day jobs load them with so much work that their contribution is severely weakened. So don’t simply trust that the people you have can do the job. As far as possible, hand pick people you know have the right talents and motivations to participate. If necessary, involve line managers in the process and work with them through the project to ensure team members can perform.
3. Fear culture
Everyone knows that working across culture presents unique challenges – different mindsets, different assumptions, different ways of working etc. But few do anything about it. Simple solution –involve an intercultural trainer for a couple of hours during the kick-off meeting with the mission to teambuild and foster a spirit of curiosity and respect for diversity. If you can’t find anyone, call me.
4. Forget long term objectives
International projects can be quite complex and challenging affairs which last years. Team members can become disillusioned as they work from milestone to milestone with no obvious and tangible success to show for their efforts. Solution? Plan a few high profile so-called quick wins into your schedule – the launch of a simple new service, something which makes everyone’s life in the organisation easier. Create a sense of momentum and pride, a piece of good news, to get spirits high and look to repeat the exercise periodically to maintain a sense of progress. People who are proud of what they doing tend to do a better job. The longer term objectives will come in the longer term.
5. Shout about bad news
We all know the scenario. Team member flags a project task at red – real risk of failure. Project lead reports the problem to sponsor at amber – not wanting things to sound too serious. Sponsor reports project status as green – all is well, no issues on the horizon. Result? Frustration in the team. Lack of resources and effort focused on areas of real project risk. Overall project portfolio management compromised leading to huge costs impacts. OK, it’s a dramatic picture being painted. But those leading projects need to practice ‘intelligent disobedience’ far more often than they do – shouting against superiors who seek to cover issues and massage realities.
There is more about these issues, and an article about intelligent disobedience, in Managing Projects providing even more food for thought for those working in international projects.
Delta Development Blog
This blog will be updated at least once a week, so add it to your bookmarks. You can also subscribe to the feed to be notified when it's updated.
Meet the Bloggers
- Bob Dignen & Steve Flinders (February to April 2013)
- Hania Kryszewska & Paul Davis (April to June 2012)
- Louis Rogers (January to March 2012)
- Ken Paterson (December 2011 to February 2012)
- Richard Brown & Lewis Richards (September to November 2011)
- Liz Walter & Kate Woodford (September to October 2011)
- Kyle Mawer & Graham Stanley (April to August 2011)
- Nik Peachey (from November 2010)
- Nicky Hockly (September & October 2010)
- Julie Pratten (July & August 2010)
- Gill Johnson (April 2010)
- Chaz Pugliese (March 2010)
- Luke Meddings (August 2009)
- Lindsay Clandfield (July 2009)
- Duncan Foord (June 2009)
- Scott Thornbury (May 2009)
Part of the Delta Teacher Development Series. Being Creative takes you on a journey that reveals how all teachers have the potential to become creative. Whether you are experienced or new to the classroom, Being Creative allows your teaching to take flight.
The Company Words Keep
Part of the multi-award-winning Delta Teacher Development Series. The Company Words Keep is a practical and thought-provoking guide for language teachers, showing how the latest insights into “language chunks” can lead to learners acquiring natural and fluent English.
Teaching Unplugged was awarded the British Council 2010 ELTons UK Award for Innovation. Teaching Unplugged is the first book to deal comprehensively with the approach in English Language Teaching known as Dogme ELT.
Teaching Online is essential reading for any teacher interested in online teaching and course delivery. It deals comprehensively with both the tools and the techniques necessary for online language instruction.
The Book of Pronunciation
Part of the multi-award-winning Delta Teacher Development Series. The Book of Pronunciation is a definitive account of the key role pronunciation plays in teaching and learning, providing a highly authoritative but hugely accessible overview of the essential elements of English pronunciation as well as a wide range of classroom practice.
DIGITAL PLAY - 2012 ELTONS WINNER IN INNOVATION IN TEACHER RESOURCES! Digital Play is a pioneering book on the use of computer games in language teaching. Authors Kyle and Graham are experts in teaching with technology and training teachers in innovative classroom practice.
The Developing Teacher
The Developing Teacher has been awarded the 2009 Duke of Edinburgh/ESU Award for Best Entry for Teachers. The Developing Teacher suggests that teachers themselves are the most powerful agents of change and development in their own professional career.
Culture in our Classrooms
Part of the Delta Teacher Development Series. Culture in our Classrooms acknowledges the role of culture in the English Language Teaching classroom and provides lesson content which is relevant, useful and engaging for students.
The Business English Teacher
From the multi-award-winning DELTA TEACHER DEVELOPMENT SERIES. The Business English Teacher is a book not only for teachers who are thinking of making a career move into the field of business English teaching but also for those who would like to increase their skills and develop their potential.
Wanita on Lexical bundles:
I really co’udnlt ask for more from this article.
April 17, 2014 5:40 pm
Paul Lössbroek on Role Plays for Today:
Dear Joan I am interested in your view on Role Plays...
April 10, 2014 9:07 am
barun sinha on Teaching Online 3: Online teacher skills:
Hi Nicky and Lize, You’ve...
March 21, 2014 8:24 am
Helen Beesley on Class Act :
Hello Christina, Thank you for your interest in this title. I...
March 10, 2014 12:02 pm
Patsy Abbott-Charles on The Autonomy Approach:
This book is so timely for a situation I have...
March 10, 2014 9:06 am
3 Dec 13
3 Dec 13
5 Jun 13
5 Jun 13
9 May 13
21 Apr 13
15 Apr 13
7 Apr 13
31 Mar 13
27 Mar 13
17 Mar 13
13 Mar 13
11 Mar 13
3 Mar 13
24 Feb 13