Having spent years on multiple programs that are labeled as "strategic" or “game-changing” opportunities, we continue to experience a number of trends and repeatable patterns. The focus of this discussion is "Preventable Trends." Some of the recurring preventable trends that we experience have a significant impact on the delivery of strategic transformation targets, the teams and partners working to achieve a key objective. Examples of preventable trends include:
Poor Management Turnover: We expect management to change and new leadership to come forward with fresh strategies and approaches that will challenge and improve the current state. In most cases, the real life experience and reality of a leadership change is not good. What we continue to experience is management turnovers that are lackluster, expand the risk profile of delivery and create new negative downstream impacts.
For example, in most cases, there is little or no pre-transition planning which is then coupled with rapid pace announcements that confuse and often impede the relationship of IT with its business customers, staff and strategic partners. In addition, the incumbent IT, business and HR organizations are “shell shocked," offer limited expertise, and are not experienced in dealing with the communication and change management required to successfully manage the change in leadership. Although it’s great to announce a new leader, we quickly realize that the team supporting that leader is not able to deliver those shifted objectives, lacking both the capabilities and experience of successfully working through a management turnover.
Confusion in the Ranks: Aside from preparing the Powerpoint and completing the ROI or business case material for approving the initiative, the focus on how the rank and file will accomplish the task is seldom discussed nor adequately addressed. What is the expectation for each member of the team? Do the team members really understand what the objective is and is the plan realistic and achieveable? Can every member of the team explain the "who, what, when, where and how" of the strategic objective in a way that makes sense?
A good way to find out whether or not you are going to be successfully is get someone to independently query
the team to see if they totally understand what is going on. Often the rank and file is confused by a lack of a clear management message, a change in funding for the initiative, limited or no ongoing communication regarding scope and objectives, and lack of full team participation (are some team members not participating in the work sessions). Each of these examples can be prevented with simple steps and an experienced leadership team that takes the time to make sure there is no confusion in the ranks.
"Going Live" Crisis: How many times have we experienced a ‘go live’ event that was not good? When you remember those events that went wrong and took the effort of multiple heroes to remedy the situation, did anyone mention doing a post-mortem after the fact? Was anyone capturing all the activities of the go live event such that they could be documented and reviewed with independence and candor afterwards? The experience of a bad ‘go live’ or significant issue after the initative has been launched is something that no one wants to repeat, and it is preventable. The team that are successful in preventing the crisis are the teams that make the effort to include the production teams and those impacted by the new initiative in the upfront define, design and build of each effort. The successful teams use each crisis as away to further strengthen the moves to production, taking each post mortem fact and turning them into improvement activities.
Each of these trends is truly preventable! Although the team may consider a detailed project plan as the key to a successful deployment and relish in spending hours updating the plan and conducting reviews of change to the plan, too little time is spent addressing the items above. Once you have lived through of any of all of the items above, be careful ... you might find yourself saying, "this was totally preventable!"