What is the definition of change in the project setting and why is managing behavioural  change an important aspect of project management?

The mining industry in Australia was booming. The Chinese market was growing exponentially, and the iron ore miners were struggling to keep up. One miner, a large global company who already had four operating mines in the Australian outback, decided to bring forward their plans to build and operate a further three mine sites as quickly as possible to meet demand. They had two main competitors, one in Chile and another working in Australia, with whom they would be competing to sell ore to China. The quicker these new mines were operational, the better. The race was on!

Both the new and old mines were in a large expanse of Australian bush – literally in the middle of nowhere. The old mines were serviced mainly by fly-in, fly-out mine staff. A small number of critical workers lived in nearby townsites, mining towns with very limited services. These towns were heavily subsidised by the mining companies. They were really like small communities, with everyone knowing each other and looking after each other. Workers and their families who lived in these small communities spent their time bushwalking, camping, and enjoying a simple, outdoor lifestyle.

Building the three new mines, and expanding the four operating mines, proved to be a big drain on services in the outback. It was difficult to fly in the large number of resources required to do the work. There was limited accommodation, in fact not enough to go round. Any effort to build more was not only costly but could not meet time demands. It was impossible to hire cars, and petrol was in short supply. The supply chains were struggling. The risk to the company in terms of meeting schedule demands, as well as health and safety, meant they had to make some executive decisions about how they should operate. A decision was made to move as many services as possible back to the city and undertake them remotely, so as to decrease the number of people required to work on-site.

All of the mine sites transported the iron ore by rail to the port, some 110 kms away. The railway network was complicated. The logistics were challenging. The order came from China for a specific grade of ore. The train then had to be routed to the mine site that was mining that grade of ore on that day and arrive in time to pick up the ore. The train had to be harnessed to the correct number of open wagons, this sometimes meant hundreds of wagons and could be 3 miles long. The train then needed to be routed to the port in time to be offloaded while the tide was in. If the coordination of train, boat and tide was not aligned, the company would lose a 5-million-dollar opportunity, as the boat would sail empty and the train would have to sit for 12 hours until the next boat came in with the tide.

The train control centre was based on the outskirts of one of the operating mines. It was a highly technical operation. It was staffed by experienced operators who all lived in the townsite. They worked round the clock in shifts. The company realised that this key function needed to be expanded to train more operators to meet the extra demands of 3 more mine sites. The training usually took a minimum of 12 months, not including the time it took to hire the right person, find them accommodation in the town site and get their families settled. A decision was made to relocate the train control centre to the state capital, some 5 hours flight time away. Research had identified that other mining companies had established remote train control centres and although this was quite a new phenomenon, managed correctly could save time and money and improve operations.

A senior project manager was brough in to manage the project. There were two key deliverables. The first was to move the train control centre to the city. This involved finding a building and implementing the latest train control technology – so building a high-tech centre. The second was to relocate the 18 train controllers and their families from the bush to the city.

 

Question:

What is the definition of change in the project setting and why is managing behavioural  change an important aspect of project management?

Read the case study. Consider the changes the project will implement and how these might affect the train controllers. As the project manager, what tools could you use and what actions could you take to help the train controllers understand the changes and deal with them in the best possible manner?  Critically assess the tools and their effectiveness.

Word count 1200 =/- 10%  words excluding diagrams, models, tables and references.

 

Tips:

  • We talk about behavioural change management throughout the course, but in particular, please refer to the course content in sessions 7 and 9.
  • Please number each page.
  • The instructions on how to submit the document will be provided by the course administration team.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to complete this exercise and find someone to proofread the assignment before you submit.
  • The word count is +/- 10%

This is an academic assignment so a minimum of three academic references are expected. Please use the Harvard referencing system. Instructions on this system can be found in the ‘More, More, More’ section of the course. Correct use of this system will be considered when the assignment is marked

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