I am continuing my commentary and sharing of experiences / perspectives on business transformation at http://businesstransformation.wordpress.com/
We addressed this exact challenge in the past year. I would encourage anyone facing this challenge to consider building a solution around two key questions to start:
1) Are we doing the right things?
2) Are we doing things right?
The first bullet is about the common notion of IT governance and prioritizing the highest value work for the company. Moving from a “squeeky wheel gets the oil” to a true business case / business value based prioritization of work makes a difference. The best part is that you don’t need fancy tools to make this happen. A basic business case approach for each project combined with a list of key enterprise class projects and organizational accountability for the mission to answer question #1 is a great place to start. Get yourself a sponsor at the top of the organization and begin building out this capability.
Second, once you have established a prioritization approach, and focused activities around the key projects, you need the ability to log time against these projects. This can be done using paper and pencil at first. I have seen 400 person programs use paper and pencil. It can be done.!The key is scale. The larger the project the more important the tool you select needs to scale. Large teams and distributed geographies present real hurdles, but the process of allocating / charging time to a project is PM101.
I highly recommend implementing a process first, and a tool second. You can always add a tool later. Tools bring costs and complexity.
Build and implement a governance, prioritization, and time tracking capability, then focus on making the capability more mature over time. If you lead with a tool, you will most likely end up selecting a tool that may or may not fit a process fit for your organization. This could torpedo your entire goal. It has happened more than once before.
Why is it important for a change agent or leader to get a sense of how the change is being accepted?June 3, 2009
This question was put forth by a colleague on LinkedIn. I found the question quite interesting, and included my response below.
Prioritize the “great” work differently than the “good” work, and avoid the “bad” work.
Each day we are all challenged to give our time to different activities. Some of these activities are not worth our time, and most people manage that work, or the “bad” work out of their calendar. The challenge, whether the work is strategic or not, is to maximize the amout of time spent on the “great” work while taking enough care of the “good”work.
Build a management system to deal with the majority of the “good” work. Put “alerts” in place that will help you monitor the “good” and “bad” work so that you are able to manage by exception and optiimize your time. The more you are able to deliver, the less time you have to spend managing the daily work thereby freeing up your focus on the strategic work.
When you cannot answer a question, tell the audience. Transparency and authenticity is paramount for change leaders. Be honest, people understand that you dont always have all the answers, and commit to getting the answer offline and follow up. If you fail to demonstrate these leadership traits, people will not follow you.
If people lose faith in you and become skeptical on your leadership style, you will inhibit your ability to assess how change is being accepted. You will find yourself in a downward spiral, leading to more “bad” work and less time to focus on the “great” work.
Introduce a thin layer of governance to enable cost optimization and market share growth at the same time.
With the decline of the global economy, companies are more pressured to deliver more with less. I have heard many corporate leaders claim “flat is the new growth”. Sales and revenue driven organizations are increasing the visibility and accelerating the frequency of measurements. Back-office operations are taking costs out as quickly as possible through automation and the elimination of redundancy. Now, more than ever, companies need to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of their corporate assets.
Enter change management and IT governance. If you are responsible for “change management” in your organization, either as a formal role or as a leader, you deal with the concept of “efficiency and effectiveness of corporate assets.” So, how are you and your company addressing these concepts? Chances are that your ability to defer this topic is challenged due to the current economic environment. Much has been written about leadership and how to lead through tough times, what types of leadership skills are needed in declining times, or what leadership traits are most important in times like this. Leadership and having the right people to lead through these times is hard to argue against. While leadership and having the right people is required, I propose that IT Governance is an organizational capability whose star is rising and one that you and your company should exploit to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of you corporate assets.
An interesting set of opinions on this topic can be found at CIO Magazine. Few people debate the need to change in times like this. The question of “why do we need to change” is fairly apparent. The debate of change frequently centers on “what do we change into”, “how do we change”, “where do we change first”, and “how do we fund change”. The capability and techniques of IT Governance help company’s address these exact questions. There are several industry models and frameworks available like CobiT and Val IT, to name a few. Don’t invent your own, tailor existing thought leadership.
Based on my experiences, IT Governance makes a difference. In difficult times, it can serve as the conscience of the company by moderating the focus of the company’s change across the “impulse buy” decisions, and the strategic direction. Further, maturity of IT Governance is important but not necesarily critical to provide returns to the business. Few companies will heavily invest in IT Governance right now, and that is OK. Focus your leadership of change through a thin layer of the IT Governance and show returns to the business. In this case, “some is better than none”. Get a light weight IT Governance capability in place, ground it within a framework that is appropriate for your business domain, and grow it over time by increasing the discipline and capability where the business and IT need it. Remember, you can always add complexity later. That’s easy. To take complexity out is the hard part, and that is part of the role of IT governance.
This slide show outlines an interesting and valuable summary of change management. While it is hard to argue with (like motherhood and applie pie for Americans), it is 1000% accurate, in my experiences. The challenge is in delivering on such a vision. This outlines “how to implement change management” but leaves us short of the specific tactics. I thoroughly respect Torben’s thoughts, and simultaneously welcome your thoughts and insights “from the coalface” of change.
As an example, what if the “sense of urgency” or as others have referred to it, “the burning platform” is not compelling enough? I have personally witnessed many companies virtually stand on the burning platform and electively choose to “catch fire” and gamble with their future as opposed to leap from the platform and swim with the sharks. Miraculously, some people survive the flames! No doubt, the burning platform is critical, but if you were standing on the burning platform, what external motivations would compel you to leap from your current comfort zone?
This presentation encapsulates the concepts of change management very well. I offer it to provoke deeper thinking and discussion on the subject.
I invite your hypotheses on the web article above. As a passionate leader and student of change, I want to hear what you think.