I was at an event with a client last night celebrating the success of a major project that I have been involved in over the last few months. I normally don’t like such events as they are usually attended by an “interesting” array of individuals turn up to drink the wine & fill themselves up on canapes. I much prefer impromptu, informal celebrations.
But I decided to attend as I am really proud of the work that we’ve achieved together to make this project a success. And as predicted, although I have been heavily invovlved in the project, I only knew about 15% of the people in the room.
As I was gathering a plate-full of canapes a man turned to talk to me:
“And what brings you here?”
Although I groaned inwardly, I embraced the moment: that simple question lead to an interesting conversation.
The man was a partner from one of the consulting companies I have working with. He had not been involved in the project, but he was aware of some of the challenges I had faced on the project – particularly in relation to the trade unions and staff engagement.
He shared with me the experiences that he’d had working in France: the trade unions have a particular ritual that accompanies any major change, including mergers or TUPE-type scenarios.
The staff KIDNAP the boss for 3 weeks and lock him in his / her office.
It’s all part of the peacock-display as they protest their objections to the proposed plans. And after the 3 weeks, it’s business as usual and the changes are made regardless.
Apparently, it’s such a common occurence that some management consultancies are now recommending that this 3 week interruption is actually factored into the road-map.
Which leads me to think: with the current challenges facing the NHS accompanied by the increasing amount of union unrest, we could find ourselves in a similar position. In a pragmatic move, should NHS Trust start factoring into their PRINCE2 gant charts time-delays caused by collective grievances, ballots and industrial action?
I don’t think that I’ll be advising any of my clients this particular to factor this into their planning just yet, but it’s worth thinking about (just in case).
PS – I’m not sure if it’s a true story or not, but thought it was one worth telling.