Everybody has to take care of projects in their professional or private lives. So, in a way we are all project managers. And if you think about it, you can apply PRINCE2® to a lot of these projects.
In my spare time I work as a qualified London tour guide. So, the other day I thought, can I use PRINCE2’s seven principles for my walking tours? And I think I can.
- Continued business justification
I think that’s an easy one, I need to provide a walking tour, from start to finish. And the justification remains valid throughout the project because I can’t just say after the first half of the tour, ‘this is it, we’ll finish early today’. My customers have paid for particular tour with a specific length of time – and I need to deliver on this.
- Learn from experience
This is essential for tour guides. You might do your walk for the first time and while it looked like 90 minutes on paper in reality it might be longer. You might think that all your stops are interesting, however, others might not share your enthusiasm. You might think you have a strong voice but with a big group you realize your voice doesn’t carry. Generally, in order to learn from experience, the feedback from your punters is very helpful. But it’s best to try your walk with a test audience first – they might be critical but in a kind way.
- Defined roles and responsibilities
Very easy, you are the tour guide and you lead the group. Your group is the audience. Don’t let them take control.
- Manage by stages
A walking tour is always made up of stages. Your first stage is meeting your group, introducing yourself and finding out a bit more about them. The next stage is a summary of what to expect, health and safety, the approximate length of the tour plus where you’ll finish. And then you have all the different stops, which are basically individual stages. At the end, you finish the tour, just like you do with a project.
- Manage by exception
Exceptions always need to be calculated in when you are guiding. When it comes to time, you will have a good idea of how long your walk will be. However, you have to adapt your walking speed to your audience or you get a group which asks a lot of questions – both of which adds additional time and this can mean you finish later than expected.
There shouldn’t be any quality exceptions. However, I once had one single customer booked on a tour. He wasn’t a native speaker and I used much easier English for him than I would normally have done – so in a way a quality exception.
- Focus on products
Your product is a successful walking tour. And as a guide you have to focus on this. This already starts when putting together your walk. Do proper research, don’t make things up (if you can’t answer a question, it’s fine to say you don’t know), and also make sure that you keep to your timeframe and don’t have too much distance between walks. I once joined a guided tour abroad and we had to walk 15 minutes from the meeting point to the first stop, that’s not ok. You quickly lose your group’s interest.
- Tailor to suit the environment
This is probably one of the most important principle for tour guides. You might have done your tour countless times, but there’s always one danger especially in a big city like London. Overnight, streets might be closed off due to construction works or huge events. So, you always need to be aware that you might have to tailor your route to suit the current environment.
And, of course, be prepared to change the position of your group due to weather. You don’t want them to be blinded by sunlight or get drenched by rain. Because there’s one thing to remember – we guide in every weather.