Strength In Numbers

Short time frame. Huge population of learners. Multiple locations. Just a few of the challenges faced in boosting the project management expertise for over 600 employees at a multinational aerospace company. Rachel Cise shares the story.

I sat gazing out of the cabin window, overcome with a sense of achievement and satisfaction. Flying out to run the final workshops of this particular project marked the successful completion of a significant endeavour: a project that involved over 600 participants, 80 workshops, seven facilitators, and spanned three months across two locations. This flight was more than just a journey; it represented the culmination of months of work with our aerospace client, a milestone achieved by Interactive Workshops in collaboration with the client’s internal L&D setup.

Through partnership, we designed a series of customised workshops aimed at seasoned Project Managers. Taking on this project was not an easy endeavour; the stakes were high.

Success meant not just teaching skills, but instilling a mindset shift about the nature of projects and why they matter.

Hundreds of people to please. Plenty of investment from senior stakeholders to ensure we got it right. And a humble team of professionals, just supporting a world leader in aerospace. 

The challenge felt very real: how could we boost strengths and go further than any project management training the participants might have experienced before? But the challenge was even more tangible than that.

The client has an incredible safety record, and for very good reason. Quality is never compromised. But as a result of incredibly high standards, efficiency can take a back seat. Our client is a commercial organisation where there are timelines, budgets, stakeholders. For us to succeed, it was not only about teaching skills, but it was about encouraging a mindset shift around the people involved in the projects. We settled on an insight, or mantra, that underpinned the workshops: Projects are People. Without people, there are no deadlines, no budgets, no stakeholders to delight with the delivery of their product. Projects only matter because people matter. Project management is about people management. The challenge is: how can we ensure that people are ignited and equipped to work effectively and efficiently to deliver on the projects?

A simple question that defines our working philosophy also shaped our approach: How could we make this not just effective, but enjoyable?

These professionals have demanding roles, their time is precious, and interrupting their routine for half a day required a thoughtful strategy. It was imperative that every participant left the workshop feeling it was a valuable investment of their time, motivated to further their own capabilities, and with a renewed understanding of their daily processes that contribute to the organisation’s aircraft manufacturing success. A straightforward task, right?

Collaborating closely with management, we meticulously refined the workshops through multiple iterations to ensure they hit the mark.

Our workshops were structured around a number of engaging activities:

A captivating simulation

A bespoke card game

Tools and models from the Project Management Institute

Press ups, star jumps, burpees and more

The Results?

The outcomes were measured through post-workshop feedback surveys, covering various aspects such as theoretical content, practical application, personal development, relevance to their roles, and the facilitators’ effectiveness.

While it will take time to gauge the full impact of the training on the company’s overarching objectives, the resonance of the workshops is still felt within the organisation even months after their completion. The client even shared an anecdote about a manager who visited her office to gather materials from one of the workshops for use in recruitment sessions.

These workshops have left a lasting legacy, fostering conversations about project management training as not just a mandatory task but as a voluntary and valuable pursuit.

With real-world application yielding tangible results, this workforce has been equipped with enhanced skills and knowledge—an accomplishment that echoes the meaning of effective project management. 

Real application. Real results. A stronger workforce.