Event 34 - GCHQ - Centres of Excellence
The day began with an introduction from Kevin outlining some of the special considerations we all needed to adhere to as a consequence of working on this special site. (At lunchtime a historian gave some fascinating insights into their important work with demonstrations and exhibits of historic artefacts - including an opportunity to 'touch' the Enigma machine!). Simon from GCHQ then delivered our keynote talk.
He headlined the important role GCHQ plays in our world today, powerfully making his points by referencing recent press coverage. He described the journey GCHQ has taken in developing project, programme and more recently portfolio competence. The importance of taking a determined, focused approach across time was highlighted and this stimulated all attendees to reflect on the strategies their organisations were adopting.
The 35th Centre of Excellence meeting was hosted by Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Cheltenham, and the topic for the day was "Centres of Excellence - What's working, what's not?"
GCHQ is a security and intelligence organisation tasked by Government to protect the nation from threats. Working with our partners in SIS and MI5, we are responsible for giving the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary the information needed for their decisions.
The second presentation was from Nicky Bloomer and Sue Mulcahy of the Office for National Statistics. They outlined the approach they had taken to develop skills and capability using the principals of: The right project, the right way with the right people. They too described a journey that required focus and determination to deliver demonstrable results. Many interesting points were made including; the importance of aligning projects to strategy, the importance of knowing what you have by creating registers of work and profiling competence of people and the essential endorsement from the 'great and the good' to professionalise the 'practice' of managing change.
Peter Shirley next described the plans for Legal and General as they look to develop their 'centre of excellence' (CoE) for change. Again the concept of a journey was embraced and Peter was able clearly to sign post the intentions for improving competence. He highlighted the importance of taking stock at regular intervals and powerfully illustrated some examples of lessons learnt to date! He also effectively linked to the previous presentations for information that can help him as he looks to develop the CoE.
As a precursor to the workshops, Bernard Murray-Gates from CITI reflected on the theme of the day: 'What's working and what's not', highlighting some key areas for consideration, as for example What does success look like? and the CoE menu of potential services and prerequisites for start up. He concluded his talk by suggesting seven success factors that a CoE could /should reflect on as they develop their contribution and significance to the business.
Members then were invited to participate in a workshop where they discussed one of four themes:
- The project community's perspective
- Engaging the business
- Lessons learned
- The characteristics of your CoE.
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"The classic training model, taking individuals out of the business to sit in a classroom for a week at a time, was not going to work for us. But at the same time, we knew we needed to raise our game in managing change. I have to say, your people are brilliant!"
Head of business change, Legal & General