How an old management concept is just as relevant today as it was in the 1970s.

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A classic article with new implications — Who’s Got the Monkey?

I recently re-read one of Harvard Business Review’s most bought articles, Management Time: Who’s Got The Monkey? It appears in several of my HBR books — a great way to recycle content. I always enjoy reading it though, because even though it was written in 1974 and updated in 1999, it’s still as relevant today. The language is dated, and the problems have moved on, but the critical point is valid today — who’s got the monkey?

Most methodologies prescribe them, yet they don’t work. What can we do about it?

Confused man with laptop
Confused man with laptop
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The theory of lessons learned is simple. By asking the right questions at the right time, we can harvest the knowledge gained from conducting a project, both what went well and what didn’t go so well. The idea is to repeat the positives and avoid the same mistakes in future. Over time, performed religiously, we do projects better and better, edging towards perfection.

Work has changed forever. Even when we’re back in the office, we’ll need to lead teams that are sometimes in the office for the long term. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned that you can apply too.

A lady on a teleconference
A lady on a teleconference
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Hybrid working is the new norm.

As we start to return to the office, we want to embed what we’ve liked about homeworking but also re-establish the office as a collaboration hub.


If you are trying to develop your skills, here’s how you should be learning.

Lady reading book
Lady reading book
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Why is workplace learning important?

We live in a world that’s changing quickly. Some of the myriad trends that are changing the workplace include an increasing reliance on innovation and transaction platforms, the rise of automation to replace people, cloud technologies wiping out data centres, electric vehicles wiping out much of the car industry, new farming techniques replacing a lot of manual labour, new construction techniques changing how we build things and disintermediation removing the need for people to connect customers to suppliers etc. …


If you keep this simple matrix in mind, you will rarely make poor decisions about the opportunities in your career

A happy lady
A happy lady
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We’re often faced with decision points in our careers, some large and some very small:

  • Paying to do some training yourself
  • Asking to go on a training course
  • Whether to take a new assignment
  • Volunteering your professional or private time to a project
  • How to spend that free hour that you have
  • Helping a colleague to finish some work on time

Whilst many of us don’t really consider the context of the opportunity, or sometimes even the amount of time you need to complete it, it’s important that you do. There are only 24 hours in a day and you


What we’ve learned from the experience to better prepare ourselves for old age.

An old man on his own
An old man on his own
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How to prepare for old age

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Both my father-in-law and my uncle were supposed to die first. After all, the life expectancy of men is lower than for women. So, neither family planned for the eventuality that it might be the “wrong way round” and the ladies might die first.


Why you’re in danger of wasting your training budget without a curriculum in place

My niece spent some time with us recently, visiting from Hong Kong. If you’ve ever been to Hong Kong, or seen it on TV, you’ll know that it has more high rise buildings than just about any city on Earth. You’d therefore think that when I asked her to draw a house for me when she was playing with her crayons that she’d draw the 30 floor building she lives in. No. She drew a rectangular house with a roof, chimney, 4 windows and door. Oh…


Here is a list of great books and blogs on the process of learning that apply to corporate learning and development, all of which are well-researched and evidenced.

A man reading a book
A man reading a book
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Why learn about learning?

I have long had a passion for professional learning and have been involved in the professional education of project, programme and product professionals for some years.


If you’re a PM or you develop the skills of PMs, here is a useful template of what every PM needs to know

A mug saying the word ‘begin’
A mug saying the word ‘begin’
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Why do project managers need a development plan?

Learning to become a project manager is an active process, which is best done by simply beginning. I have written about how to do this here.


How to give performance feedback in an objective and effective way

Boy shouting
Boy shouting
Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

Why should I give performance feedback?

Quite simply, if you don’t give performance feedback then you can’t build your team, push people further and better than before. More importantly, you will unwittingly shape the wrong culture for your team. Good quality, timely feedback is a critical part of team building, as it discourages the wrong behaviours and reinforces the right behaviours.

When should I give performance feedback?

I remember getting some feedback from a manager a few years ago on an email I had written several months earlier. …

John Davidson

John is a program manager, with a passion for coaching. He writes about the 4Ps (Portfolios, Programs, Projects, Products) and life coaching, for home and work.

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