Project Management – pre-preparation

Project Management

This post will look at an aspect of managing projects that is often overlooked. These are the steps you need to take prior to project commencement. The idea for this came from a presentation by Graeme Joy to the Casey Cardinia Business Group covering his expedition to the North Pole.


Graeme Joy with Australian Flag

Graeme Joy with Australian Flag

Planning a Project

The thing that stood out the most from his presentation was how much of the project depended on the up front planning, and how little they could do to influence the final outcome once they set foot onto the ice.


On The Ice

International North Pole Expedition On The Ice

So how did they do it?


Pick the right team

If you want a High Performance Team, then every member needs to be able to carry their weight and to be able to continue to do so during the whole of the project and in cooperation with the rest of the team members. So friction is OK as long as it leads to a good outcome. In fact you need divergent view points to prevent group think settling in.


So how do you pick the team members?


International North Pole Expedition Team

International North Pole Expedition Team

Step one is that a High Performance Team needs a High Performance Leader or leadership group. The High Performance Leader has to be able to set the scene for the purpose the team exists for and also gain commitment from the team members toward that purpose. The steps include:


  • Vision – Create and Develop commitment within your team. Defining success and the measurement of performance.
  • Empowerment – creating leaders within your organisation.
  • Urgency – A Sense of Urgency is critical
  • Communicate – You have to be an excellent communicator
  • Attitude – a positive attitude is more important than skill
  • Empathy – understand who your team are and what they are going through


Attitude is the one I want to focus on here. You can learn skills, but if your Attitude is not right, you can still fail. One example is the likelihood of survival. A trip to the north pole is entirely carried out over ice floating on top of the Arctic Ocean. Unlike Antarctica, there is no rock underneath. This carried with it two things I hadn’t considered until I heard Graeme Joy’s presentation.



How do you measure progress. Easy, my current position and how much closer to the North Pole am I today compared to yesterday. Seems OK. Except I am on drifting ice. They planned on making 36km per day. One day, they travelled the distance but actually went backward by 6km due to the ice drifting. It takes quite a lot of resilience to handle that. So they made sure everyone knew in advance that it was going to happen. On the plus side, one night they got 12km closer while they slept.


Dragging Gear Over Arctic Ice

Dragging Gear Over Arctic Ice

Survival Belief

The Arctic is harsh. Temperatures are low. Down to -55C. There are polar bears. There are ice floes and high winds and the real danger that their tent could be damaged. To emotionally prepare for this they practised sleeping in the open in just their sleeping bags in the high Swiss Alps so they knew they could survive in the event their tent was ripped.


Arctic Ice Tent

Arctic Ice Tent

Engineering Application

So how does this apply to Engineering, and in particular what Successful Endeavours does, Electronics Design and Embedded  Software Development? The point about Attitude is everything. Henry Ford once said, “The man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can’t are both right“. And I agree this is the case. When we take on a project, it isn’t that we necessarily know exactly how we are going to do it, but it is with the Attitude that we will find a way. And we do. IBM statistics show that 80% of R&D projects fail. Yet we routinely succeed. It defies the statistics so how do we do it?


We recently took on two projects for a client who had not been able to get a solution from their current engineering services suppliers. In one case we were the third business to look at the project and the project was running more than a year late. They needed to present to their end customer in six weeks. So how can we take on that risk given two other teams have failed and with a lot more time to work with?


Looking at the risks for the North Pole Expedition surviving if the tent was damaged was managed as a psychological risk by trialling the risk management strategy before the expedition set out. This way they knew they could handle it.


In the case of the project we took on (I can’t say more because the product isn’t on the market yet) we did a quick trial and created a test rig and measured the physical parameters we would be working with and then analysed them using excel and then a program written to run on a Windows PC and trialled the solution outside the embedded environment using real data pulled from the test rig.



Simulation Example – click to see full size

So we were able to see the data we would be working with and determine that a solution could be developed based on fully understanding the problem that needed to be solved. Then we started the main development phase knowing we would be able to get to a solution. And our client had confidence to authorise the additional expenditure knowing it was likely to be a good investment this time. End result, our client was able to take a working proof of concept prototype to their end customer on the expected date. And we were able to utilise most of the mechanical engineering work already done as well as the LCD panels so they were also able to leverage some of the historical investment.


So that was the process: understand the problem, manage the risk, do the required homework, then execute with confidence.


When we hire (we are hiring now), Attitude is one of the key things I assess for. Because we can teach skills. And provide experience. But I can’t overcome a defeatist or overly risk averse mindset. And I won’t hire someone who doesn’t have a hunger for the client to succeed. We exist to support Australian Electronics Manufacturers and the primary outcome I want from each project is a local manufacturing success story.


Graeme Joy Bio


So who is Graeme Joy?


Graeme Joy

Graeme Joy

Graeme Joy is perhaps best known as joint leader and navigator of the International North Pole Expedition, where he became the first Australian to ski to the North Pole, but he is also one of the most focused, effective and highly ranked motivational speakers in Australasia.
His extensive mastery of essential business principles such as, strategic planning, project management, conflict resolution, defining success, personality types and leadership, will answer any questions you may have and leave you feeling empowered to maximise the performance of your team.
Highly praised for his business applicability, take-home value and ability to deliver key results, Graeme Joy is also keen to share his experience with others and runs a company that conducts specialist leadership and team development programs.

The above was taken from his website. But having seen him in action, it is definitely not an exaggeration.


Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In AustraliaRay Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2017 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.


Success Follows Pursuit of Passion

Passion Matters

Because we design other people’s products for them, we get to meet a lot of people who want success. There is nothing wrong with that. Some want to Make a Difference and are pursuing a cause they are passionate about. And I get the most satisfaction from helping them to succeed at doing that.


Stephanie Alexander

Stephanie Alexander cooking at home


At the most recent Casey Cardinia Business Group breakfast session I had the chance to hear Stephanie Alexander share her journey. And it was an inspiring reminder that passion does indeed Make a Difference.


Casey Cardinia Business Group

Casey Cardinia Business Group


Stephanie grew up in a family that believed in the value of education, discussed topics of interest, and ate home cooked food. Her Mum not only liked to cook tasty meals but was also interested in the meaning of food and its social context.


Following her graduation she travelled to Europe and in France discovered a love of food that has stayed with her for the rest of her life.


Although her first commercial efforts weren’t successful, she persevered and was able to use her systematic organisational skills developed in teaching and library work to run a successful restaurant. She also discovered a passion for educating people about food, cooking with confidence and enjoying the taste and texture of well cooked, fresh, seasonal produce. This led to writing books and developing the Kitchen Garden Foundation program to teach primary school children the benefits and joy of growing fresh vegetables and cooking them.


The success of the books bankrolled some of the other activities and their success attracted philanthropic investment as well as government grants.


She didn’t start with the intent of being a leader. It was her desire to influence people’s view of food and their choice of what to eat that led to it as an emerging position and allowed her to make the difference she has been able to make.


Influencing the coming generations and how they perceive food will affect many modern issues including climate change and obesity. Stephanie believes that obesity is not solved by calorie management and powdered food. She believes it will be easier to overcome once we rediscover the joy of growing and cooking great produce as an alternative to convenient food that really doesn’t have the same taste, texture and quality of nourishment.


The Cook’s Companion was intended as a complete education in produce, cooking and having confidence in being able to do that. And it has been a huge success in helping to achieve just that. It wasn’t written to make money. It was written to help people. That it had also been a commercial success shows the value of doing something good to help others and doing it very well.


Success Lessons

Her story parallels many others I am familiar with. And they all seem to share the some common characteristics:


  • trying to do something to Make a Difference, not just to make money
  • having to push through initial failures and learn from them
  • building a team around you and energising them with your passion
  • having a message big enough to capture the attention of the world around you


In my case, it is making it possible for Australian Electronics Manufacturers to be both locally and globally competitive.


In the case of Stephanie Alexander, it is awakening the value of good food grown and prepared well to an upcoming generation who are mostly being fed the message of convenience.


The Cook's Companion

The Cook’s Companion by Stephanie Alexander


Last night I broke out our copy of The Cook’s Companion and thoroughly enjoyed preparing a good meal.


Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development, focusing on products that are intended to be Made In Australia. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for more than 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2016 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Casey Cardinia Business Awards Winners 2015

Casey Cardinia Business Awards

The City of Casey and Shire of Cardinia have been actively collaborating and cooperating for many years now. This is an inspiring example of how to buck the current Australian trend against collaboration. And one of the ways they are doing this is with a combined business program including the Casey Cardinia Business Group and the Casey Cardinia Business Awards.


The Casey Cardinia Business Awards Finalists for 2015 were announced in August and last night the winners were announced at a gala dinner at the Cranbourne Turn Club. We are pleased to let let you know that we won the Business and Professional Services Award.


Casey Cardinia Professional Services Award 2015

Casey Cardinia Professional Services Award 2015

A great night was had by all with Jean Kittson as MC.


Jean Kittson

Jean Kittson

We also had a full table with us to celebrate the win.


Casey Cardinia Business Awards 2015

Casey Cardinia Business Awards 2015

And our congratulations goes to Wastech Engineering who won Casey Cardinia Business of the Year for 2015.


Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2015 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

National Manufacturing Week 2014

National Manufacturing Week

Each year during National Manufacturing Week we have the opportunity to celebrate and explore Australian Manufacturing. It alternates between Sydney and Melbourne and in 2014 it is being held in Sydney from May 13-16 at the Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park.


National Manufacturing Week

National Manufacturing Week

From the messages in the press recently, you would think that manufacturing in Australia is dead. But the truth is a long way from that. Recent announcements from the Automotive Manufacturing sector are disappointing but that is not the only manufacturing we do here. Manufacturing is the equal third largest sector of the Australian economy and the largest sector in Victoria. The sector it is equal in size to is mining. That’s right, the same size as mining!


So it is worth looking after a little better than we have been.


It kicks off on the 13th May 2014 with the exhibition followed by a networking function and the Endeavour Awards gala dinner. This year we entered the awards so are hoping to have some news about that soon.


The National Manufacturing Week networking event this year is being sponsored by the Casey Cardinia Region which is where Successful Endeavours is located. This is a very progressive venture between the City of Casey and the Shire of Cardinia. and a great example of the collaboration we need to become a lot better at in Australia. We are also a member of the Casey Cardinia Business Group which is one of their strategic initiatives.


Casey Cardinia Region

Casey Cardinia Region


Casey Cardinia Business Group

Casey Cardinia Business Group

We will be going to National Manufacturing Week this year and hope you will consider it too. If you haven’t been before, you might be pleasantly surprised at both the breadth and depth of Australian Manufacturing.


Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2014 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.

Mindset of a Champion

What makes a champion?

I took the title of this post from a blog written by our Business Mentor,  Dr Marc Dussault, The Exponential Growth Strategist. We heard a different perspective on what it takes to be a champion when Brooke Hansen shared her story at the Casey Cardinia Business Group breakfast this week.

Brooke Hansen

Brooke Hansen, Olympic Medalist

Imagine spending 20 years to get to your dream?

At the age of 6 Brooke Hansen decided she wanted to represent Australia at the Olympic Games. In 1994 at the age of 16 she was the youngest member of the Commonwealth Games team. So the trend was good. The years of training had gotten her that far. But in 1996 and again in 2000 she did not make the Olympic Team. She felt like quitting. And the statistics show how hard it is to make the Australian Olympic Swimming Team.

  • 100,000 swimmers in Australia
  • 1000 serious competitive swimmers fighting for a place in the team
  • 42 swimmers selected for the Olympics Team
  • 2 of them Breast Strokers

So she decided to give it one last try. She knew she had to change something or her results wouldn’t change. She also knew she would be considered too old to be competitive. So she got a different coach, a different training regime, focused on the little 1% things that would make the difference she needed, broke down her 4 years into individual 6 month goals and the final year gave up her 4 favourite things to eat or drink and pursued her dream with single minded conviction.

She made the Australian team for the 2004 Summer Olympics and came away with an Olympic Silver Medal for the 100m Breast Stroke and an Olympic Gold Medal for the Medley Relay. Not only had she represented Australia, but she had done us proud. She knew it and we heard it in her voice as she shared her story with us. However her story doesn’t end there.

Ray Keefe, Junette Keefe, Brooke Hansen's Olympic Gold and Silver Medals

Ray Keefe and Junette Keefe with Brooke Hansen’s Olympic Medals

Six weeks later she competed in the 2004 FINA Short Course World Championships where she won six Gold Medals. She is now a member of a very elite group to have ever done anything like that.

Her message to us was both inspiring and simple. Never give up on your dream.

I also recognised that she had done something else. She had focused and she had stepped up with courage and determination.

How to inspire

And she did something else that was both inspiring and moving. She brought her Gold and Silver Olympic Medals with her and they were passed around the room from table to table so we could hold them. They were heavier than I expected and it was quite an honour to hold them, the indisputable emblems of her champion spirit.

Ray Keefe with Brooke Hansen's Olympic Medals

Brooke Hansen’s Medals

I went into the rest of my day more determined than ever to make a difference. Thank you for inspiring and challenging me.

If you enjoyed this post then you might also like to visit the official website of Brook Hansen and the Mindset of a Champion blog.

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2013 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd.