In my Operational Excellence recruitment bubble, I get to hear rumours, whinings and some fairly interesting views on why various change programs don’t get delivered effectively are off track, over budget or have under-delivered and so forth. I therefore set about to educate myself, as to how all these brilliant people collaborating together, can’t just click their corporate fingers and make stuff work! It must be easy surely, I tell myself. So I asked a few change practitioners, (actually a lot of them) as to what can possibly go wrong on a change program? (Surely it’s easy with all these brilliant people I say to myself). So what are the bottlenecks to success and what questions should you ask to ensure that you’re on track?
Here are the answers
(at least the repeatable ones) along with my recruitment bubble observations, written selfishly for my own entertainment purposes.
Have consultants and their proximity to key decision-makers, created in- and out-groups? (Come on guys can’t you all just get along?)
Has your Change Program been effective planning up front; what’s the master plan, the communications plan, the stakeholder plans, measurement plans, project plans, contingency plans, Plan A? Plan B? Is there an escape plan!!? (Good Lord. That’s a lot more planning than I ever realized. Something I allegedly share with portions of the change community)
How much time am I spending, teaching the business a new language for change, processes, or performance? (Lean Six what? Can you not see I’m eating a pasty?!)
Who is accountable here? Are reporting and formal meetings the key process for establishing who is accountable for what? (Does everyone look at each other wondering who the fall guy is? Note to self – Do I have enough mates on the board?)
Do the operating principles and strategies built into the charter and change process, compete with or conflict with those that already exist for other team members and the stakeholders? (There’s a book about that called ‘How to win friends and alienate people’)
When there is a difficulty in my Change Program, can I see any disagreements in the team about where to place loyalty, for example, project work versus daily work, or the change schedule versus customer demands..? (Watch out for people trying to stir up issues and then crush them remorselessly, that’s what I say!)
Do you describe the role and authority of consultants and project staff with the same language that stakeholders do? (More than likely to avoid politics is my guess)
Are there any dual-reporting roles for project team members, trainers, or end-users, born from ineffective roles and structures put in place? (Almost definitely! They always end up getting made redundant and coming in for interview using the word “We” all the time. “We did this; We did that”…but what did YOU do!!!? “Well it’s not as straightforward as that” hmmmm yes I can see..!)
Has progress been rationalized at all and is the logic understood and communicated by stakeholders in the same way?
So In The End…
In conclusion, there is nothing here that I’d suggest is a revelation, but when you’re on the ground, day-to-day with all the inevitable distractions, do you forget to ask some of these fundamental questions? Indeed, there may be other obvious questions: please post them below as comments or email me for the benefit of others as we all work through a tough change environment!