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Elf and reindeer in front of a North Pole sign

Santa Claus: Programme Manager

Packed out shopping centres, festive music on repeat, clearing out the freezer in preparation for the copious amounts of food that will soon fill it, and the last-minute dash to get that present you forgot for your partner’s cousin’s niece…the run up to Christmas is manic to say the least! We’re sure even the most zealous of Christmas fanatics breathe a small sigh of relief when it’s all over!

But what about the man himself – what does Santa Claus do once all his and his team of elves’ work for the last year is complete? We reckon it goes a little something like this…

Imagine: it’s the day after Boxing Day and Santa has gathered his team in his office. Everyone is still feeling the pleasant afterglow of another successful Christmas, but now it’s time to move on – next Christmas is on the horizon and the planning starts now.

What do you reckon the first thing on Santa’s agenda is? Why, learning from experience surely! As a programme manager, Santa knows that to successfully and consistently deliver the most high-profile programme each and every year, he needs to use all of his leadership and management knowledge and experience and focus on the high-level principles first. So, learning from the lessons from this year’s Christmas is always the first step – did all the presents get delivered on time? Were there any suppliers that didn’t work out so well? Was the stakeholder communication up to scratch? The list goes on…

Santa and elves in front of a North Pole sign

Another important aspect when planning out a programme is an appropriate vision statement. How about ‘Christmas – a time for tradition in a changing world’ for Santa and his elves’ vision for the next festive season? Having a strong focus on the end goals right from the offset is paramount in any programme, but, as you can imagine, when your team is a bunch of hyperactive elves, this stage in the planning process is particularly important.

As such, managing an office full of elves can be a bit trying at times, so injecting a bit of fun into the mix would surely do the world of good. So, how about if Santa turned the task of mapping benefits into a game? Hyping up a group of, at first, confused employees – uncertain of the terms and purpose of the activity – into a team of borderline-violently-enthusiastic individuals, who know that the programme must be aligned with the realisation of benefits, demonstrating measurable improvements to their stakeholders. A programme manager’s dream, right?

Now, we imagine that by the end of this little task Santa and his team would probably be stood in front of a wall of post-it notes, each revealing a few words on things to be done or made. Over on the right-hand side would be the benefits they were aiming to realise, and to the left were the outcomes – the changes that would lead to the benefits – and further to the left of those, the capabilities that the next year’s programme would need to design and deliver.

No two years at the North Pole are the same – with each programme culminating in one, huge celebration that would be felt the world over, every year will bring with it a new leadership challenge. So, for Santa, his role as a programme manager is vital in order to continue adding value year on year.

So, if you’re working in programme management or are considering moving into this particular area, why not make Santa Claus your role model this year and check out ILX’s MSP® courses?

And from everyone at ILX, have a very merry Christmas!