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Aerospace Case Study

The Challenge

An international business won a major European contract in the area of aerospace design. They pulled together some of the most technically talented individuals to work on it and appointed a three person project leadership team. And it all started so well.

But after nine months they were off course, over budget and behind schedule. Mike Phipps from CPD was asked to coach the three project management leads.

Mike quickly established that while the team were indeed highly skilled, gifted even, they were overly focused on the technical solution and were not paying attention to influencing the multi agencies that were their external stakeholders (they just said “yes” to everything) and they were also failing to communicate with their internal stakeholders too, meaning they were perceived as cliquey, remote and aloof.

The second aspect of the problem was that the three project leads were lovely, highly considerate people, but they simply could not deliver the difficult feedback that the project team needed to hear.

The Solution

Using a combination of one to one coaching and team sessions, new stakeholder management processes were established and an influencing plan created and executed.

Through regular sessions over the course of a year Mike was able to keep the management team focused and supported to ensure that they not only kept everyone informed and on side, but that also the team members received regular performance updates that included both the motivational good stuff and also the things that were not so good that needed addressing.

The Outcome

The three project leaders were amazed to discover that instead of being demotivated by difficult feedback, provided they used the tools that Mike suggested, the team welcomed knowing how to do better work. “We now know what we didn’t know” was how one team member put it. The leaders simply had not accepted that the team wanted to know, not be protected and “mothered”.

The team leads also established a process of side meetings and pre meetings with key stakeholders so that meetings were optimised and the politics around the table minimised.

Regular sessions with the three leads also focused on updating the stakeholder management tools and tweaking the influencing plan to keep stakeholders on side.

The project will deliver in summer 2019 and at the time of writing this case study it is back on track, on time and (almost) back on budget.