HAPPY BIRTHDAY RNC!

13 years ago today I got dressed and headed in to work to talk to my boss about coming back after a period of sick leave. You’ve probably heard me talk about the two meetings that took place that day. I walked away, came home and started RNC.

13 years. Wow, it seems both so recent and so long ago.As I looked around for what to do and what to offer I settled on a few things immediately:

  • I’d do what I love (delivering specific outcomes for companies)
  • There’d be no corporate retreats; dinners without spouses; attempts to build false teams through activities requiring courage and physical strength; no one who worked with me would be asked to visit me (I would visit them); if people wanted to work part time I wouldn’t bludgeon them into full time; and RNC would be an equal pay organisation.

Then I looked at the market and saw there was a move towards everyone calling themselves “project managers” and the race was on to get to the lowest common denominator of capability through accreditation without demonstration of ability (other than through paperwork). To this day I hold the view that paperwork never achieved anything – other, of course, than forensic defensibility of failure, and I’ve always reckoned that setting out to defend failure is a very poor substitute for actually delivering.

So I decided to offer Project Turnaround services and distinguish RNC from the outset as the people who could and would do the hard stuff that others couldn’t.

Day one, my sales pitch was to a consulting company where I knew the MD and it went like this: “I can fix broken or troubled projects – my rate is $X per day and you can charge whatever you like on top of that, what you get commercially from the client is your business”. I knew it was their contract not mine. RNC’s first contract landed 8 days later. I had set my rate very competitively to the market of the day.

Fast forward 13 years and just last week I hired Peter to work in Singapore (welcome Peter) and I was taken aback when he said, “This is what I want to be paid, what you charge on top of that is your business”, AND he has priced himself to the current market. An amazing reminder of the genesis of the sales success for RNC. But I digress.

RNC is now a brand in its own right. Last year we had over 70 people working at one time (we are off that at the moment because of the time of year; the market; the abundance of people claiming to be able to ‘do’ project management; and people helpfully introducing their friends directly to clients instead of thinking to talk to RNC – (this is something I need to explore, if clients we know are thinking of RNC, why aren’t PM’s who know us? Don’t worry, I know the answer).

In real terms, rates for project and program management have come down as supply has gone up and the propensity of our industry to manage into failure has continued. Project and Program Managers generally do not enjoy a good reputation. In the past, people engaged PMs to get something done that couldn’t be done in the normal course of the business, but we now find ourselves being asked to deliver project outcomes within normal business. I don’t know where it’s going but I do know there is a always a need for the people who can deliver. Happily the brand we have built is relied on by clients to do just that.

I just looked at the number of unsolicited CV’s we receive per week and at the moment it’s upward of 40 (and sometimes over 100) – there are a lot of people out there looking for work.

It’s not a good market, but if we stick to the knitting and understand and work with the market, our clients will benefit from engaging RNC.

Over the 13 years many competitors have come and gone (which is a bit sad but I am grateful RNC is still here and still delighting clients (most of the time).

Project delivery is and has changed. We can’t hold onto what used to work, we all need to realise that what works today isn’t what worked years ago – and keep up with the play.

My first public presentation ever was titled “You can manage the process or the people – if you choose the process, watch out for the people, they’ll get you every time”. That presentation is just as pertinent today (perhaps more so) than it was way back.

If you haven’t learned anything in the past year (in addition to on the job, your value to clients has decreased – and no, I am not talking about attending sessions just to get PDUs) – it doesn’t matter so much what you learn as long as you are still learning.

As I write this, contracts are being exchanged to open the Singapore office; we are looking at reopening the Canberra office and Debs is running the Brisbane office. Dallas has been open (but limping) for over a year. Sydney is the hub as always and our marketing to support clients continues despite the market conditions – I believe our commitment to marketing is second to none. People often ask me how we do it, and I answer, don’t give up and get the best people.

Thanks for being part of the RNC story, you can be proud that you are, I don’t compromise on quality.