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Custom Executive Education

Orchestrating Major Projects

Around £500bn of tax payers’ money is committed by the government to the 150-200 projects in the Government’s Major Projects Portfolio. The Major Projects Leadership Academy was set up to tackle the challenges of cost, scale and ambitious timescales of these projects by enhancing the capability of senior responsible owners and project directors delivering complex and often critical undertakings.

On the back of the Academy, we designed the Orchestrating Major Projects programme primarily for Director Generals and Permanent Secretaries. The programme has already seen it's first cohort through the doors and is looking forward to many more to come.

Participants can:

  • Capitalise on the momentum of the Major Projects Leadership Academy
  • Allow reflection for transforming public service
  • Improve and grow their connections
  • Gain better understanding of departments' senior responsible owners and project directors
  • Address leadership challenges alongside other senior colleagues.

We assembled a committee of outstanding project leaders with shared references, competencies and networks who have individually and collectively delivered significant and positive change. Together, the aim is to facilitate the reshaping of the major projects operating environment and enable delivery of more, successful major projects for the benefit of not only the government but ultimately our citizens.

Having worked with the team that has developed the Orchestrating Major Projects programme and, given their track record on programmes for Permanent Secretaries and Ministerial teams, I feel confident in their ability to deliver an informative, engaging and impactful experience and commend this opportunity to you.

Tony Meggs, CEO of the Infrastructure and Projects Authority

Tony Meggs, CEO of the Infrastructure and Projects Authority

The programme focuses on the key areas where most improvements could be made in the delivery of major projects.

Setting up projects to succeed

Projects that hit difficulties are most often those that are poorly set up, where delivery expertise is consulted at too late a stage, where objectives are too sketchily articulated and accountabilities blurred. A successful project starts well and the programme explores how that can be achieved.

Building in resilience

Major projects can come under tectonic pressure from contextual, political, technological, societal challenges and changes. Building resilience into the structures and governance of a project is key to it thriving and surviving. The programme asks participants to reflect on best practice in building resilience both from within and outside government.

Shaping the operating environment

Leading in government often requires careful navigation between conflicting needs or opposing forces, and never more so than in shaping the project delivery environment. Director Generals can be faced with:

  • Completing their constitutional responsibilities whilst enabling the full potential of others
  • Delivering a rigid programme whilst accommodating the need for flex and agility
  • Being accounting officer and servant of the department simultaneously 
  • Serving ministers and citizens
  • Responding to the sway of the political agenda whilst leading for the long term
  • Safeguarding process adherence whilst championing a learning organisation
  • Ensuring cost saving whilst pushing for innovation.

All require a particular kind of approach and leadership which are explored in practical ways throughout the programme.

Leadership capabilities for major projects

Policy formation and major project delivery require a broad and interlinked set of skills. Those charged with shaping the environment need a developed understanding of what those sets of capabilities are. Major projects require a developed instinct for risk and the project teams depend on Director Generals to bring their experience, hold the burden of uncertainty throughout delivery, provide direction, motivation and support, and empower the team. The leadership aspect of creating a successful environment for major project delivery forms a key portion of the programme.

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