Matthew Moran

Matthew Moran

I am Head of Transformation at The Open University and lecturer in the OU Business School, and I speak, write, consult and advise on strategy, project and product management and organisational change

Location UK

Activity

  • That's a really interesting perspective @BeckyHoulihan and it's a good example of the suitability and utility of agile/iterative approaches in situations that are ambiguous. Agile approaches are, really, about learning, and increasing the rate and frequency of learning - learning about the project environment, user needs, how to work to achieve the project...

  • Great points, @MattGriffiths

  • Nice examples @AshokanSelliah thanks for sharing.

  • Good point @BünyaminKutlu you are right, the PM doesn't have full control of team selection, but we do have to deliver the project with the team selected, and therefore the PM has to develop the team and enable them to succeed. We will look more at this in Week 3 of this course. Thanks!

  • Good point @JamilaMasiki we will consider how PMs can re-design the team if necessary in Week 3 of this course.

  • Sounds like a fascinating project @PetraM

  • Great points, @MarianaBarreto thank you

  • Hi everyone, I will be hanging out in the discussions in Weeks 2 and 3 of the course, and looking forward to discussing and learning together. Hope you enjoy the course.

  • Hi everyone, I will be hanging out in the discussions in Weeks 2 and 3 of the course, and looking forward to discussing and learning together. Hope you enjoy the course.

  • Awesome, great intro. Looking forward to it.

  • @JonathanBustard @VictorIbanga although getting a haircut at the moment may be subject to uncertainty and complexity :-)

  • @LouiseMiles I am so glad you are finding the course interesting Louise!

  • @W.F. Hi @W.F. I will try to explain. The weather can be volatile, the sea can be volatile. But the weather and the seas are known, we know they exist, and we can make predictions about how they will behave. When they behave in very unstable ways, or when they change unexpectedly, this is volatility – in the middle of a storm, it is not easy or possible to...

  • Hi @W.F. I will try to explain. The weather can be volatile, the sea can be volatile. But the weather and the seas are known, we know they exist, and we can make predictions about how they will behave. When they behave in very unstable ways, or when they change unexpectedly, this is volatility – in the middle of a storm, it is not easy or possible to...

  • Wow, thank you @NicholasGrech-Cini that's extremely generous, thank you, I am delighted that you have found this week so useful. Thank you.

  • Hi @DClegg I am not very familiar with EFQM but I understand it starts with defining purpose which I tend to regard as the essential starting point for organisational change. How are you finding it?

  • Hi @VictorIbanga so if we look at the power/interest model, and thinking of a project you are working on or familiar with:
    -- identify who are the stakeholders, eg customers, local community, government, competitors, etc
    -- for each one, locate them in the matix - do they have low or high power to influence the project
    -- their power to influence the...

  • Great, thanks @RMajor

  • Like, but no like!

  • Hi @DavidC yes these are useful. Testing is good because it gives you feedback. So in developing a vaccine, we test, and we plan next steps based on results. Or if we are creating a new business idea, we put something out to prospective customers to get feedback from the market. Scenario planning is useful, but can be limited by what you already know. Testing,...

  • Yes @HeleneSmertnik this is known as ‘psychological safety’: a condition where individuals feel included, accepted and respected, and are safe to learn, safe to contribute, and safe to challenge the status quo, without fear of being embarrassed, marginalized or punished. If you are interested in this, there are some great talks on the web by Prof Amy Edmondson...

  • That’s a wonderful example @JohnHannah thank you for sharing it.

    Why is it that these crews without social cohesion do so well, in your view?

    In my experience, teams formed by individuals who don’t know each other well tend to make a bit more effort to get to know one another, and they are more aware of their individual differences. They are more...

  • Yes @YvanYonaha and as John says above, we can see conflict as inevitable and even as positive. But it’s important to move through conflict and not get stuck in the storming. The next couple of steps suggest some techniques for managing ‘good’ conflict.

  • Did you receive your certificate @RMajor ?

  • @YvanYonaha It's my pleasure Yvan.

  • As many of you have asked for some more realworld examples of hybrid approaches in practice, here are some links to APM blogs that you may find interesting to read through when you have time:

    How to apply agile to everything (example from Moonpig)
    https://www.apm.org.uk/blog/how-to-apply-agile-to-everything-insights-from-moonpig/

    How Ella's kitchen...

  • Well observed @HarryHartley !

  • Hi @ArthurBlazey yes I have seen this happen to, and you make a good suggestion for preventing it. In Scrum, the Product Owner is responsible for prioritising work, and the Scrum Master tries to protect the team from getting involved in anything that is not related to the plan. Would this help in your experience? And could these things be done by the project...

  • Bingo. That’s absolutely right @AdepejuOgunsanwo

  • Good analysis @SheenaHaji-Ghassemi

  • Perfectly possible and feasible @EugeniaTait The ‘hard and fast’ distinction in theory between linear and agile is in practice very often blurred, and for some time now PMs have been using a hybrid blend. What parts of your projects are more linear, and which parts are more iterative?

  • A-ha! But wait. The week is not yet over! @EugeniaTait

  • Thats a great breakdown based on your current experience, @SheenaHaji-Ghassemi thank you

  • Hi @GemmaCampos that’s right, I don’t suggest that the last four factors are entirely in the PM’s control, only that she is able to control them rather more than the other factors. The PM cannot control the choice of team members, as we see in Week 3, but she can control (in a positive sense) how the team works together and develops.

  • Hi @AlexNiyonzima thanks for the comment. Certainly the PM may be able to influence objectives, sponsor, etc. but perhaps not to control them, in the same way that she can control planning. But what has been your experience?

  • No problem @YvanYonaha you are right, the wording should be 'when change ... is so fast or unpredictable it becomes impossible to make ACCURATE AND RELIABLE predictions.'

    I'll try to clarify for you. To understand the table/graph, it is important to bear in mind that + and - are relative. Volatility is in the ++ quadrant, which means we don't have perfect...

  • Love it, Simon!

  • Interesting Shaun. I have seen charters that include ‘how we will hold each other to account’, so team members are able to challenge behaviours. Agile teams also achieve this through periodic retrospectives, which are reviews of how the team is working (process, tooling, relationships, quality). Can you think of other ways to achieve good team working where...

  • Great points, Florence and Carli. You are absolutely right. Iterative approaches allow us to respond to change, but just as importantly they enable us to capture value. One of the most commonly used agile approaches is Scrum (we cover it later in Week 2). In Scrum, it is the role of the Product Owner to define value in business and customer terms, and then to...

  • Interesting example, Ben.

  • Good points, Michael (and Andrew). Of course, construction and engineering projects are complicated (even complex) and risky — and expensive! But my experience is that linear approaches are more suitable here because we can be more certain what it is we are building, what users ultimately need, and we know that in most cases the scope will not change...

  • Hi Yvan, thanks for sharing. The + and - signs indicate more and less, like axes on a graph.

  • Hi David, please see the pinned comment above where I explain a little more using COVID-19 as the example. Yes, to your question, the framework helps us both understand the kind of environment we are in (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) and to decide on suitable actions.

  • Hi Rebecca, please see the pinned comment above where I explain a little more using COVID-19 as the example. The framework is widely used, and also widely questioned. It is important to recall that it was intended to prompt responses, as well as to help understand the context. There are actions that are more likely to be helpful in the different contexts - and...

  • Hi Alex, please see the pinned comment above where I explain a little more using COVID-19 as the example.

  • Hi Sarah, please see the pinned comment above where I explain a little more using COVID-19 as the example.

  • Hi Florence, please see the pinned comment above where I explain a little more using COVID-19 as the example.

  • OK Adepeju, let me clarify.

    A situation is *ambiguous* when we cannot make sense of it or predict the outcome by using past models. So to take COVID-19 as an example, the pandemic is creating an environment that is ambiguous because we cannot predict what will happen next. Will the infection rate fall as a result of lockdowns and social distancing? Or will...

  • Thanks for this observation Michael. It’s certainly my experience that size, age, sector and culture of an org will affect their approach. Do you have any examples of this in your experience? Or would anyone else here like to share their experience of how the org shapes or tailors its approach?

  • Hi everyone - and welcome. I am Matthew, one of the educators on this course, and I will be hanging out in the discussions in Weeks 2 and 3. Looking forward to discussing the ideas in the course with you and to learning about your experiences. I hope you enjoy the course!

  • Hi everyone - and welcome. I am Matthew, one of the educators on this course, and I will be hanging out in the discussions in Weeks 2 and 3. Looking forward to discussing the ideas in the course with you and to learning about your experiences. I hope you enjoy the course!

  • Hi Christine, thanks for flagging this. I realise that the course implies that more diverse teams are more productive or efficient. This is not the intention. More diverse teams have been shown to perform well in complicated and complex situations, but this performance is measured in terms of problem solving, ideas generation, innovation, analysis, and...

  • Good succinct summary, Lorato, thanks!

  • Very interesting, Karen, thanks for sharing. I’ll have to read up on prism brain mapping.

  • Interesting, isn’t it. From the research, it seems more diverse teams communicate more, and more carefully — they seem to try a little harder at communication to ensure everyone understands. More homogeneous teams assume everyone understands, and they implicitly discourage asking questions — members are expected to ‘just get it’. More diverse teams also tend...

  • Thanks Juha. You mention another challenge that the PM must face, that she most likely is not the line manager of the project team. And you’re quite right that this means that individuals’ commitment to the project may vary, they may be being pulled away from the project towards other work that is higher priority for their line managers, and the PM cannot rely...

  • Hi Becky — great point. It’s not covered here, but the team charter shouldn’t be a static artefact, and teams should revise it as the team membership changes and grows. So this could be done in periodic meetings or workshops with the team during the project lifecycle. Iterative approaches tend to support maintaining a shared understanding of project purpose...

  • Hi Ok, yes Tuckman said that teams can move through the model in both directions, backwards and forwards, rotating from storming to norming. Whether a team moves cyclically or in a straight line doesn’t matter in itself, except if a team can not get past storming.

  • So in your case Lorina the ‘storming’ was useful, even productive, for the balance and performance of the team?

  • Hi Juha, could you say more? I’d like to understand. It is possible for individuals to be at different stages in the formation, or in their own phase. Especially if the membership of the team is changing over time. Does this reduce the usefulness of the Tuckman model for you?

  • Thanks Michael, interesting. When people feel that their voice/opinion is heard and respected, it not only makes us all feel part of the team (which is important), it increases the diversity of thinking, and the collective intelligence of the team, which has been found to be very useful in situations of complexity. We explore this idea during the week. Hope...

  • Welcome to week 3 everyone. I will be hanging out in the discussions throughout the week, so please join in by sharing your thoughts and experiences on project teams.

  • Thanks Joe. I don’t disagree. It’s often not possible to locate to single-point causes for movements. Remember, it’s not our purpose here to describe the origins and history of the agile movement, but to explore and debate how practices and methods spawned by it, which have been proven to be successful in situations of uncertainty, can be adopted and adapted...

  • Interesting Mei-Lian, you are right that the PM can not determine the competence of the project team — but she can and must get the best out of the team and develop the team members to perform at their best and deliver high-quality project outputs. We will look into this in more detail in Week 3.

  • This is really interesting Nicole thank you.

  • Interesting insights, Claire, thank you. One response to uncertainty we touch on this week is ‘slack’ or overcapacity. Having more staff than needed to cope with unpredictable demand. As you say this is challenging in healthcare. What other responses might there be? If we can’t accurately predict demand, what else can we do? Perhaps proactively, to reduce demand?

  • Great examples, Mei-Lian thank you.

  • Not yet!