Reading the newspaper this week I was struck by the Collations desire to use the now retiring Baby boomers wealth (accumulated assets) to pay for their medical care. This made me realise there is a wealth of knowledge embedded in the baby boomers which is also retiring. Many of these people have held senior posts and migrated towards project management as the vehicle through which they can apply their skills. Given their capital wealth these individuals have been willing to work at fee rates which have not increased since the mid 90’s the next generation is not only asset poor but experience deprived too.
As 0rganisations increasingly use Project Management as the vehicle for accelerating change this loss of expertise leads to a gap between an organisations desire to achieve its goals and the skills available.
Earlier in the week I had dinner with an old colleague who is working for an FTSE 100 company seeking to recruit a Project Manager to run a £20m transformation programme. For four months he has been using a leading IT recruitment agency but has only seen three CV’s that had sufficient breadth and depth to meet his needs.
Given that there is a gap what are the options open to an organisation? For me there are four options upon all of which have to be applied.
- Recognise Project Management is a core business process which enables the successful implementation of change;
- Develop a mechanism that ties together the strategic planning cycle with the project implementation cycles;
- Work with HR to design processes which develops project management skills and capabilities through active cross-functional assignments where the employee is stretched.
- Recognise the planning process is no longer an annual event that looks forward three years and creates expectations. But planning is a monthly activity which though the delivery of projects achieves the business goals and the achievement of the strategic three year plan.
- Implement active project coaching using a framework whereby the baby boomers can transfer their knowledge and experience into the projects to which they are assigned. This is best achieved through the creation of Triads with three distinct roles; Customer who is the recipient of the tasks output, the leader of the change and the person undertaking the task. The experience can be any of the three corners supported by a clear mandate to transfer their knowledge and expertise to the other two.
- Establish a Project Management Office (PMO) which has the dual task of tracking project and programmes to ensure the outcomes are achieved, but also evaluates the projects to ensure they are applying effective risk and issue management.
- Undertake broad skills development and seek to create active teams who are capable of contributing to projects. An excellent vehicle for this is “Project Management for non Project Managers”. This is a training programme designed to develop your project teams into world class project managers using a practical ‘hands-0n’ training and coaching approach;
- Recruit experienced project directors who are capable of working with the organisation to develop a balanced risk/reward focused change agenda and cascade this through the organisation;
- Use third party resources before their expertise retires. They are currently an under priced commodity which is about to become scarce and hence expensive, whose knowledge cannot be captured in a system and rolled out as a capability or core competence.
- Adopt collaborative tool-sets such as Sharepoint as it permits effective cataloging and knowledge sharing. There are other tools which have the capability to expose the knowledge embedded in e-mails;
- Consider Programme and Project Management tools; whilst these are not the whole solution they do have a role to play;
- As in the 1980’s the implementation of ERP was an effective tool which reduced processing costs it was not the answer to addressing poor business performance. The same applied to PPM tools they will support planning and prioritising they will not correct a poor business strategy.
Bridge that gap, act now to build the competencies before the “baby boomer” talent retires!!