On 25th July 2023 we celebrated the launch of the Leeds Centre for Projects (LCP). It’s been a long time in the making and we still have a long way to go, but the launch was a significant milestone for us. I’ve taken some time to reflect on the launch and the discussions we had on the day. We were joined by leading figures in the project profession ranging from local and national government to professional bodies to business representatives. We spent an afternoon together sharing our passion for projects, discussing our future collaborations and starting to co-create new strategic initiatives. It was wonderful to see the enthusiasm of all attending.
[Our Director Dr Christine Unterhitzenberger introduces the LCP]
We established the LCP because the role projects play in business and society is expanding rapidly. Projects deliver policy and strategy, and some might argue that we live in a project society as more and more activities in business and society are organised by projects. However, we also know that projects frequently do not deliver what they are supposed to deliver or for the stakeholders they are supposed to serve. Therefore, we need to get better at delivering projects. Whilst projects and their management have moved on from Gantt charts and risk registers, we have further work to do. We need people with a broad set of expertise to work together and take a truly interdisciplinary approach to expand our understanding of projects and the systems they operate in. This is what the LCP is all about.
[The LCP Knowledge Ecosystem]
With the LCP we have set out to shape projects for sustainable futures. With the work we do through the LCP we envisage to contribute to shaping projects so that the delivery as well as the deliverables of the project meet current needs without compromising the needs of future generations. However, the LCP is not just another research centre. The LCP is positioned as a knowledge ecosystem bringing together people and organisations who interact with each other and each other’s knowledge to grow collective intelligence and capability across our three core elements of research, education and engagement.
LCP Friends and LCP Project Professionals in Residence
To establish and grow our knowledge ecosystem and facilitate engagement I am delighted that we launched two strategic initiatives at the event:
The LCP Friends are a small group of senior professionals who act as critical friends and ambassadors for the LCP. We are currently in the process of collating our LCP Friends through personal invitations.
The LCP Project Professionals in Residence are a larger group of up to 30 professionals who share their expertise with our students, provide MSc dissertation topics and participate in academic research as well as attend up to two flagship Project Professionals in Residence events on campus annually. If you are a project professional and would like to find out more about this opportunity, please get in touch with me.
[Attendees at the LCP launch event with Dr Jo Jolly, Infrastructure and Projects Authority, giving the keynote]
Sustainable Project Performance Index
Another strategic initiative we launched at the event is the development of our Sustainable Project Performance Index (SPPI). The SPPI aims to determine the sustainability performance of a project through an index. For this to be meaningful the index needs to be comprised of meaningful indicators which are now under development. The SPPI will be a biennial survey of projects and will allow organisations to benchmark their projects against other projects who participated in the survey in terms of their sustainability performance.
Whilst the launch was an important milestone, where we kicked off some strategic initiatives, the work continues. We will slowly establish more externally facing activities such as a research symposium and masterclasses. Our first masterclass will take place on 25th October 2023 by Prof Naomi Brookes on the topic of Project Data Analytics (details coming soon). We will also continue to build our internally facing activities to develop our members such as writing retreats and doctoral meetings.
I’m really happy that – if you are reading this – you are on a journey with us to build the LCP into a globally leading centre of excellence for advancing the knowledge in project management research, education and engagement.
A special thanks goes to our Head of School, Prof Carlo Prato, who recognises the potential of our work and has provided continued support to make the LCP happen. Another special thanks goes to all my colleagues and fellow members of the LCP whose work, engagement and enthusiasm are essential in all of our endeavours. And of course, also a big thank you to Dr Jo Jolly from the Infrastructure and Project Authority for providing a thought provoking industrial keynote.
[Introduction of the LCP members; Prof Rodney Turner]
Let’s co-create to shape projects for sustainable futures!
Dr Christine Unterhitzenberger
Director of the Leeds Centre for Projects