Are Critical Business Improvements…

  • Taking too long?
  • Losing their way?
  • Not reaching their full potential?
  • Becoming political pawns within your organisation?

When implementing improvements whether large Transformational Change Programmes or smaller Business Improvements in a specific area of your organisation, do you suffer from these symptoms?

  • Scope Creep… where the original concept gets bigger and bigger and bigger and the team working on the original improvement becomes a “go to department”
  • Do you find it hard for people to meet the commitments of project meetings and providing the right resource?
  • Completing actions in a timely fashion is hard
  • Improvement Projects suffer from the political dynamics of;
  1. Enthusiasm
  2. Disillusionment
  3. Panic
  4. Search for the guilty
  5. Punishment of the innocent
  6. Praise & honours for the non-participants

We use customised “Charted Projects” in our programmes … do you?

We understand these problems. In fact, we provide integrated programmes for our clients to improve not only the results in the business but the upskilling of people and a shift in the culture. Projects are a key part of our integrated programmes, as we use them for leaders and teams to use “new thinking” as well as using rigour and discipline through the use tools and techniques.  

The projects can be a “vehicle” to develop new skills, learn how to do things differently and more effectively, whilst also gaining a business improvement.

Therefore, the setting up of the projects at the beginning is critical to use these as development vehicles correctly.

It is important to start with well-structured Project Charters.

Below, are the key points under each section of the charter that should be followed when setting up the team and charter.

A big part of new thinking is to do things differently and not “Business as Usual”.

Above is a version of our Project Charter use extensively with clients. Of course, on significant projects there is more detail behind the “top level” headings, but getting the above right is the start of an effective end.


Here should be the names of the one or two managers (Leader and Facilitator) who are to lead the project. We should not always go to the “usual suspects”, people who always run the projects. This is an opportunity to development other managers. This will enable them to develop greater leadership skills and work with teams more effectively.

A facilitator should be assigned to each project. These should not be team members and have a specific role in the project which will be defined and developed at the start.


The team should be made up of approximately four other people, so a full team is roughly six people including the leader or leaders.

Again, we must resist using the “usual suspects”, people who are always involved in projects and just a few people spread across all the projects. We should pick a team with some people who have not been involved before, but we feel have potential to contribute to achieving results.

Too many people in the team creates confusion and inefficient project delivery. If certain people are required at certain times for expertise, they should be people to go to at the time, not team members.

Too often team members are picked for the wrong reasons. For example;

  • They have expertise that the project needs (these people can be called upon at certain times not having to be a member)
  • They all work in the same area (this creates “group think” where new creative ideas are restricted by everyone already knowing the perceived answer)
  • One from each department just in case they are needed or bring a perspective from a certain department angle (this results in people sitting in the meeting and not contributing until their department is mentioned and then they work their own agenda!)
  • Are there to make up the numbers (believe it or not this happens often, and the meeting turns into a committee that never gets actions done and talks just to justify their existence in the meeting!)

When picking the Leader, Facilitator and the Team, remember “RACI” to ensure you pick the right people at the right level to play the right role.



This should be a senior manager who is supporting this initiative. Albeit tempting, this role is not to lead, but to coach the new leaders who have been identified from the middle management group.

This role is to Envision, Enable and Energise, whilst reinforcing and learning new coaching and supporting skills. This will enable the senior managers to practice the skills and not be overly directive, otherwise this will limit the team’s delivery.


A description of what the initiative is to achieve. This is an opportunity to define what it’s aiming to do and also what it is not aiming to do.

A good rigid scope agreed by the senior management team at this stage is critical to prevent “Project Creep” or people forming a project group that lasts forever! The group should disband once it meets the scope. If there is a requirement to hand over things to the business for continuous improvement then that is part of the project objectives.


This section is a description of what the individual objectives, i.e., outcomes of the project are, or the step-by-step approach the project is going to take. It is easy to confuse the scope with objectives and if this is done the initiative starts to become cloudier further into its journey, so it is critical to define the sections correctly at the start. Often this is a list of key strategies for the team to follow and sometimes a problem solving methodology such as DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analysis, Implement and Control)

Measures of Success.

Four or five measures or targets should be listed in this section. Two or three should be tangible business type results with numbers that shows that the project implementation is working.

Also, to measure the success of the project, one or two measures should be tracking the effectiveness of the team too. So, the team should be aware of its performance as a team. Measures here can be something like; how many actions completed on time, attendance at meetings, meetings held et cetera.

Meeting structure.

A full schedule of meetings should be listed in this section. It is vitally important to have the discipline and rigour to plan all meetings on a fixed time with a fixed frequency so all members of the team know when each meeting is, so target dates for actions and milestones can be managed around these fixed times. It is not effective to suggest that meetings will happen only when they are required. This leads to poor attendance and wastes time managing each meeting.

Ground rules/working principles.

Before the project team gets underway expectations should be shared from the leaders to the team members and vice versa. This allows a reference point during the course and the life of the project for the leaders to manage inefficient or ineffective behaviours. I.e., It’s nipping anything in the bud. Again, another critical consideration for a development vehicle.


This section is to ensure that the initiative does not conduct a great piece of work that is not valued by the business. So here stakeholders or senior managers within the business areas you will be implementing change agree to your plans.

Senior Approval.

This section is simply answered with a yes or a no. The process of getting SLT approval will be one of the very first steps after the charter is drafted for the senior management team to agree thus enabling them to be aligned to the work that the leaders of the initiatives are aiming to achieve.

NewLeaf International run their “Integrated Improvement Programmes” globally and have vast experience of customising the programmes to delivery key business results, upskill key employees and develop a shift in the culture simultaneously. Its unique.

Get in touch to find out more.

Martin Gummery, Managing Director, NewLeaf International Ltd


T: 01905 425209