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A Journey of Growth by Yaa Adjei - Blog

A Journey of Growth by Yaa Adjei

Recently, I noticed several new additions to the London skyline while travelling through London Waterloo station—the term '[NS1] projects in action' sprung to mind. My journey continued via the underground, where flashes of purple and white caught my eye—walls plastered with numerous Elizabeth Line stickers. These plasters were a symbol of the stalled Crossrail project, which missed the December 2018 launch date.

Crossrail, Europe's largest transport project, is a complex endeavour aiming to operate three separate services connecting major transport hubs between east and west London. When in operation, the line will run between Paddington station to Canary Wharf's business district in just 17 minutes, as well as provide a rapid service to Heathrow Airport[NS2] .

The high-profile nature of the Crossrail project drew regular interest in print and online (via social media platforms). A broadcast series was aired, charting historical discoveries unearthed along the way. With so much promise, the announced delay was a blow to many individuals and businesses that were counting on the service to promote growth. The project would have brought many benefits to commuters, retail outlets, small businesses, and housing developments because travel time would have been reduced. This is in addition to recover the costs from the £15B project.[NS3]

A Transport for London (TfL) spokesperson said more time was needed "to ensure a safe and reliable railway for customers from day one". Former Transport Secretary Lord Adonis said, "There's no excuse for what has happened on this project, and people need to be held to account."

Watching the Elizabeth Line's logos, together with the knowledge of Crossrail's news flow made me think about the people involved in this vast and complex project. It is difficult to comprehend the highs, lows, and any learning opportunities the team must have gone through. As I travelled through the Northern Line, I recounted my experiences of being tasked with joining existing teams to steer risky projects back on track, and instances where a change of management and portfolio priorities deemed some project and programmes out of favour.

The importance of team development to enthuse, inspire trust[NS4] , and energise adapted teams was essential in all scenarios. Supportive team development helped cultivate a culture of accountability, openness, delivery, and improved team-working dynamics. Here are key learnings that can facilitate change:

  • -New team kick-off meeting is essential to get the team together, talk through changes (including political issues), and re-establish team objectives, project goals, and delivery milestones. A face-to-face discussion is often preferable.
  • -Lessons learned—creating an environment that gives an opportunity for all to share what went well and what would be done differently. The key is to move away from a blame culture to a process improvement focus.
  • -Project team maturity—any change to a team starts the 'forming, storming, norming, and performing' cycle. Understanding each stage and how to guide your team through the stages is important.
  • -Team building/celebrating successes—whether joining an existing team or working under new management, if a project has missed key milestones, morale can decrease. Finding ways to improve morale and celebrate successes can enhance and influence a team's performance.
  • -Establishing communication expectations—agreeing ways of working and modes of communicating effectively is essential for outlining governance, reporting progress, delivery, monitoring, and managing expectations.

Every project team experiences a different journey, and often just as important as the delivery destination.

[NS1]Em-dash should be used

[NS2]Full name is Heathrow Airport

[NS3]Can this be explained a bit more? Doesn't make sense. Do we mean if people had started to use the service then that would have generated money, which would have contributed to the 15B cost (i.e. money have been poured back due to people using the service etc.)?

[NS4]I have applied the Oxford comma 

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Wednesday, 23 September 2020

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