Developing and managing a project management Community of Practice for an airline

One of the world’s largest airlines recognised that the project management capability of its information systems division needed to move up a notch.  Having invested time and money in sending staff on project management courses it saw that there was little to be gained from yet more training.  They recognised that the next step lay within the organisation.  Therefore we put together a proposal that encompassed many elements that can be grouped under the term Community of Practice (we actually called it a Professional Development Scheme).

Our proposal included many elements such as:

  • the provision of accredited training with recognised qualifications
  • developing senior managers in the organisation to act as mentors to the project managers
  • whole group learning events
  • community development days
  • and the entry into the community by interview with their peers and scheme manager

Over a period of 18 months we developed and instituted the scheme, recruiting cohorts of twenty or so project managers into the scheme every 3 months.  As the momentum developed, the organisation started to pay interest and the dividends in improved performance of the project managers came through.  The status of the project managers was enhanced, the wider organisation recognized the part it had to play in their delivery, and more senior managers acting as mentors saw what was happening in the organisation from the other side.  The benefits of standard approaches, more confident project managers and an organisation that moved to become more of a learning organisation became evident.  Our role finished when the scheme was firmly established and an in-house capability to manage it was developed so that they continued to run it from their own resources.  Indeed the approach we developed was later adopted for other communities in the organisation.