Chris Croft's Personal Blog

October 29, 2011

Two project management stories

Filed under: Project Management — chriscroft @ 11:24 am

For those of you who learn by stories (that might be most of us!) here are two educational youtube clips


There is no alternative to Gantt charts:

You need a Gantt chart if you are going to keep a track of the money you are spending:








My favourite van graffiti

Filed under: Lists, Travel and driving — chriscroft @ 11:17 am

Years ago I was amused to see
“Also available in white”, on a white van

since then there have been many witty variations, and here are my favourites:

“White with a hint of M42”
“Do not clean – seeds planted”
“Plough Me”
“Test dirt. Do not wash”
“Anti glare paint”
“I wish my wife was as dirty as this”
… “Oh, she is!” (added to the above)
… “and she’s in this van!” (added to the above)
“I wish my wife was as dirty as this… “then I could write things on her back”
“If my wife was as dirty as this I would be at home”
“Is your mother as dirty as your van?… I already know your wife is”
“It’s this dirty because I washed it with your wife’s knickers”
“Small penis available – see driver”
“If you think this van is dirty, you should try having sex with the driver”
“Dirty? You should see my arse”
“Why clean me, why even keep me, why even look at me, why not SCRAP me?”
“If you’ve read this notice then by the time you read it, you’ll have already read it”
“If you can read this you are a c*nt”
“What are the pink bits in my tyres? Cyclists & Joggers”
“This van’s got a widget”
“No hand signals. Driver on Viagra”
“If you can’t see my mirrors, I’m doing my hair”
“Quiet, refugees sleeping”
“Help! Been kidnapped, call police”
“How’s my speeding?”
“Wisely Driven? If so call police – vehicle stolen”
“For sale: mop and bucket never used”
“Cleaned by Stevie Wonder, checked by David Blunkett”
“A dog is for life, not just Saturday night”
“Big baby on board”

“Please pass quietly – driver asleep”
“Oh shit, now I need to wash my finger”

Specialist graffiti
“No jobbie too big”, sewage lorry
“Every do you do is driven by us”, cesspit collection tanker
“Did you ever wish you hadn’t started something?”, on the dirty half of a half-washed van
“We watch your wife while she showers”, window fitter’s van
“I love getting felt”, roofing contractor’s van
“Caution: Pigs in Transit”, Police van

October 23, 2011

A whole Project Management talk

Filed under: Project Management — chriscroft @ 7:51 pm

I’ve uploaded a recent talk, unedited, in five parts
(you tube doesn’t like videos longer than 15 minutes)

You can dip into any bits you want to know about
– each video segment has notes underneath of where you can find what you want, just click on “Show More”

Part 1 – Get it in writing, and Listing the tasks –

Part 2 – Estimating and critical path (posit-it note) diagrams –

Part 3 – Gantt charts with Excel –

Part 4 – Gantt Charts and resource planning –

Part 5 – Risk, Finance and Reviews –


but of course a video doesn’t do justice to the actual life experience – why not get me in to do a talk for you….?

other subjects include:

  • The meaning of life
  • Happiness
  • Personal Efficiency
  • Negotiating
  • Selling
  • Influencing and Persuading
  • Handling difficult people




October 20, 2011

Our kids’ careers

Filed under: Careers, Happiness — chriscroft @ 9:39 am

Is the world changing, or was it always like this and I’m just looking at it from a different (older!) angle?  That’s what we all wonder as we look at increasing crime (or not?), unsafe streets for our children to play in (or not?), kids spend their whole time playing violent computer games these days (or not) and watch too much TV instead of interacting with other humans, the press is rubbish, TV is all dumbed down, schools are dumbed down – if you read the Daily Mail you can really start believing this rubbish!

Though I think I do believe that careers are changing….

It seems to me that the top end careers are still there – doctors etc, and the bottom end careers (Argos stock room, pizza delivery) are still there, but there aren’t as many ways to bridge the gap.  The middle jobs have become a thin point, a constriction, rather than the fat bit where most people were.  Maybe the demise of manufacturing has partly caused this, and the delaying of management, and computerisation and the internet’s effect of automating jobs that are routine (many bank functions, travel agents etc).

But for whatever reason I do fear for the future of my kids and most of their friends, who are currently doing unnecessary degrees (50% of the population!) and therefore expecting to do interesting and well paid jobs.

Their holiday jobs and in some cases first job after Uni have been menial and boring, and I just can’t see how they can bridge the gap to where the interesting and well paid jobs are.  The days of management trainee schemes are long gone.

Will there be a crash as all these kids realise that they are doomed to a life of boring work and bad pay? …and if only they’d trained as a plumber or a hairdresser and got a trade – but to do even that requires several years of minimal pay.  Welcome to the real world as it is now – much harsher than when we fell lazily out of university straight into cushy milk-round management jobs.

Tell me I’m wrong about this!



October 2, 2011

Getting the most from your training budget

Filed under: Lists, Managing People — chriscroft @ 5:16 pm

1. Fill the courses, and don’t let your budget system prevent this If each department has a budget, and they’ve run out, then you could end up running a course only half full, which people want and need to come on, and places would have been effectively free if you sent more people on it – what a criminal waste!

2. If you are a small or medium sized company, you might be able to share a training course with other small non-competing companies near you, to get more numbers on the course and therefore a better day rate – possibly even free if you sell places rather than just dividing the cost.

3. 360: measure performance before and after, by surveying bosses, colleagues and subordinates, to find out if there has been a change, and also to prove to the attendees that they do need to change in some areas.

4. Involve line managers in implementing the learning afterwards – all they have to do is ask “What did you learn?” and “How can I help you to apply it?”

5. Consider having an internal speaker from the company doing a 30 minute guest spot, to anchor the course in reality. For example, a real project manager could talk about real problems they have encountered and how the theory helped them. External trainers can’t know everything about the company, and getting them to customise the course could add to the cost unnecessarily.

6. When selecting training providers, judge them by getting the actual trainers (not a smooth sales person) to do an actual 5 min demo of part of the course, rather than using a massive procurement paperwork process where you don’t even meet the trainers, let alone see them in action.

7. Don’t always buy the cheapest trainers – for another £30/head you might get the difference between OK and inspiring.

8. Consider the extra cost of getting a course accredited, because if there is a qualification at the end then the attendees will be motivated to do the work-based assignments, and these will ensure learning and application of ideas to the workplace.

9. Blended learning – use a mixture of taught and on-line learning. This makes the training cheaper, and probably more effective too. On-line on its own will be even cheaper, but not as effective.

10. Consider splitting the course into two parts with homework in-between, so that the delegates have to apply it and then report back on how they got on.

Create a free website or blog at