Implementation Insights Blog

Implementation Management Associates help organizations around the world achieve large-scale, complex change. This blog discusses our insights into organizational change.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Business Transformation Leadership is a Hot Topic

It's clear that securing business transformation change leadership is a challenge. We recently compiled some of the key strategies and tactics for transformation change leadership in a complimentary eBook, and we were quite literally stunned by the level of response.

Transformation change is on the top of the agenda for many executives. Healthcare, IT, and Pharma are just a few examples of industries where transformational change is widespread. But what is clear from the response to the eBook, entitled Meeting the Challenge of Transformation Change: Do You Have the Transformation Change Leadership to Cross the Abyss, is that leaders are not fully prepared for what actions will be needed by them as the sponsors of transformation change.

The eBook describes three important lessons about transformational change:
1. Transformational change can't be done incrementally; you can't make the leap across the abyss in two jumps
2. Transformational change can't be made totally safe. It requires a "leap of faith" from the transformation change leadership team
3. Transformational change means you can't go back. Once you cross the abyss, you can't change your mind and go back to the old ways

30-50% of the success of the transformational change agenda depends on the ability of sponsors, the transformational change leadership, to consistently express, model, and reinforce their personal commitment to the change. Yet many transformational change efforts don't have explicit reinforcement strategies, and reinforcement is the "power lever" for accelerating transformational change.

Too often, the transformational change initiatives are a high priority from a strategy-development perspective, but the focus is not maintained for the resource-intensive implementation of the transformational change. Unless the transformational change leadership individually and collectively demonstrate that the transformation is a top-priority, the transformational changes are likely to stall out or fail.

Labels: ,

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Solution Adoption is the Name of the Game

Yesterday on a client call we had a great discussion about the focus of Six Sigma and Lean operational improvement efforts on problem-solving versus solution adoption. As our client so aptly put it, "We think we are so good at problem-solving with Six Sigma and Lean, yet we haven't solved the biggest problem of all-- which is how to get our solutions actually adopted."

And isn't this true for all types of organizational change? Isn't the major focus on solution design, and not on implementation for virtually every type of business change? Why are executives satisfied with solutions that are "installed" but not implemented? Shouldn't every business change be measured by the yardstick of solution adoption?

If we aren't focused on sustained solution adoption as the end-goal, then our implementation efforts are doomed to fall short. If project teams fail to see that unless we achieve solution adoption that sticks, we can't consider a project a success.

To get to solution adoption, we need to put much greater emphasis on the human factors. That begins with having a clear definition of the human objectives for the change. These are the "behaviors we seek to see." If we aren't defining these behaviors up-front, we can't determine if the solution is adopted at the end!

As change management professionals, we need to be talking a lot more about solution adoption with our internal clients and business partners. There isn't anything "soft" about solution adoption and benefit realization for strategic investments.

These language patterns matter, because through repetition we can start to change the mindset and focus for projects. Meeting timelines and budget requirements is extremely important, but if we don't get to sustained solution adoption, what have we really achieved?

When Six Sigma and Lean professional starting using the language of solution adoption and put as much emphasis on solution adoption as on problem-solving, we will see real business improvement.

Labels: , ,

Monday, August 8, 2011

Two Big Questions About Transformational Change

Virtually every week we have clients contact us about their organization's efforts to implement transformational business changes. Transformational change is "business change on steroids"-- highly complex, large in scale, and mission-critical. Why is transformational change on the short-list for global businesses right now? (Question 1) And more importantly, what are organizations willing to do to position themselves to get benefit realization for transformational changes? (Question 1)

The answer to Question 1 is relatively clear. As organizations continue to dig out of the remnants of the Global Financial Crisis, senior leaders see that the competitive landscape has been altered significantly. The marketplace has shifted radically, causing these organizations to re-think their business models, identify opportunities for major cost savings, and re-structure for greater efficiencies. These transformational business changes are rational, reasonable, and required. For most organizations we talk to, transformational change is not a choice-- it is a business imperative.

Why, then, do organizations approach radical change as if it were just a series of incremental step- changes? If the organization's track record for success on getting benefit realization for small changes is moderately positive, at best, why would leaders attempt transformational change with less than a complete arsenal of weaponry? What are these leaders doing to model to the organization that these changes are, indeed, transformational changes in size and scope, and are so important that they must be approached radically differently from past business changes?

That is the missing answer to Question 2. If leaders aren't willing to demonstrate significant investment, including the investment of one of the most precious and finite resources, their personal time, then why go down the path of transformational change? If transformational change is indeed mission-critical, then leaders must demonstrate this by their own actions! What the leaders do on a daily basis to express, model, and reinforce their commitment to the transformational changes is absolutely critical.

If transformational change is approached with too few resources, no compelling story about why the change is needed, no opportunity for expressing ideas or taking risks that will drive innovation, no change in the all-important reinforcements, and limited sponsorship, then the organization is likely to get what it has always gotten: weak accountability and spotty implementation. In a competitive environment that demands more to survive and thrive, this is probably insufficient. How much money is being left on the table?

And by the way, isn't the classic definition of business insanity doing the same things but expecting different results?

Labels: ,

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Intersection of Change Management and Project Management

We've found that there are lots of organizations that "get it" when we talk about how change management and project management need to be integrated as part of a project plan to get to value realization for projects. The truth is, though, that this is not yet a common practice-- at least not to the degree that we are talking about. We'll be doing a complimentary webinar on July 21 on the Intersection of Change Management and Project Management to talk more about this important subject if you are looking to accelerate value realization for your projects. The webinar will be led by Judd Andres, one of IMA's Senior Consultants. Judd brings expertise on both sides of the equation-- he is a PMP and an AIMaster.

For too long, project managers have been solely focused on achieving the technical milestones for organizational change projects-- time and budget. These are very important, it's true, but the end game is really value realization for projects that can only be achieved by behavior change. In every organizational change project, there is something that people need to be doing differently. There has been a huge price to pay when it comes to value realization for projects when the human elements are not managed to the same degree and with the same discipline as the time and budget. While organizational change projects may not be out and out failures, the value realization hasn't been there either. Bottom line-- there is a need to do something differently if you want a different outcome. Blended Project Management is most definitely part of the solution for getting to value realization for projects. Listen to what Judd has to say and you'll see what the intersection of change management and project management is all about.

Labels: , ,

Friday, June 24, 2011

Project Sponsorship Remains Top Challenge for Execution Success of Organizational Changes

It's been interesting to see the incredible reaction to our recent eBook on project Sponsorship. "Is There a Sponsor in the House?- how to get the project sponsorship you need... so you get the business results your sponsors want" has had thousands of hits after just one day of release.

That's probably because it's the most difficult but most important aspect of getting execution success for organizational changes. Leaders are identifying execution success as a significant need in the organization, but usually don't recognize that successful execution of organizational change begins with their own behaviors. Even less recognized is the fact that as sponsors of organizational changes they control the speed of execution for projects.

At a time when resources are being cut while transformational change is on the increase, the role of project sponsors is more important than ever. Execution success for any organizational change, including transformational change, really depends on sponsors providing the right kind of leadership with their own direct reports.

For internal consultants, this creates a huge opportunity to educate the identified project sponsorship on their roles and responsibilities for execution success. It's not something that is covered in most leadership development programs, but it should be! At the end of the day, the ability of project sponsors to express, model, and reinforce their personal commitment to the organizational change converts to about 60% of the likelihood of execution success.

The question is, why don't we do more to educate our project sponsors when execution success for organizational changes is such a fundamental need?

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Challenge of Shared Services Implementations

There are many organizations that are looking at shared services models as a way to increase efficiency and reduce operating expenses. If you are considering implementing shared services, you can anticipate the following barriers:

1. Poor scope or project definition-- what is in, what is out; changing role definitions; etc. for the shared services implementation

2. Poor implementation history leading to reduced credibility of management

3. Ineffective sponsorship of the shared services implementation

4. Weak motivation for the change

5. Lack of cultural fit (culture is extremely powerful, so if the shared services implementation is inconsistent with the culture, the culture will win!)

6. Ineffective communication planning for the shared services implementation (substance, variety of delivery methods, messages targeted to audience versus top-down communications one size fits all)

Here are some things to be aware of from a shared services implementation perspective:

  • You can expect to have a lot of resistance to the business change, even if it is entirely logical from a business perspective. This will be especially true in the ranks of middle managers and directors who will be giving up their power base

  • For many organizations, even if you are successful at implementing a shared services model within the various business units (organizational stovepipes) it is extremely challenging to implement across the organizational structure's vertical columns and overcome the existing power structures-- it is the paradox of enterprise-wide change

To be successful in implementing a shared services model, you must have:

1. Clear performance measures for service levels and a process in place for ongoing measurement

2. A plan for building the required sponsorship in all the areas impacted by the shared services implementation

3. A communication strategy that relies heavily on face to face communication, with messaging designed in the "frame of reference" for targets of the shared services implementation

4. Reinforcements that are aligned with the desired business outcomes and behavior change

The "human side" of shared services implementations are complex, so there is great value in having a single vocabulary and implementation method like the AIM (Accelerating Implementation Methodology) that serves as the foundation of the implementation.

Labels: ,

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Improving the First Step of Organizational Change Management

Whether you are working on a large scale business transformation or any other kind of business change project, the first step is to Define the Change. For many project teams, it's a missed opportunity for aligning the technical and business objectives for the change with the human objectives.

When we start working with a project team, it is rare to find that the human objectives have been defined for the business change. The team may list key stakeholders, and may even identify impacts, but they leave out the "behaviors we seek to see" as part of the change definition.

If you aren't defining the desired behaviors up front, it's difficult to know if you have achieved adoption of the new behaviors at the end of the business change project. You can't reinforce new behaviors if you don't know what they are! Organizational change management starts with this comprehensive, compelling, and clarifying change definition.

Why don't more project teams take the time to define the human objectives for business change projects? Why invest in business transformation if you don't clearly identify the new behaviors you need?

The answer may be that the project team doesn't realize that in order to get value from the business change project, they need to start to think about the human component right from the start, not half-way through the project. We say that best practice for any business change project change definition is to develop a compelling business case for action (a BCA) that describes what you are changing, why are you changing, and what's the consequence if you aren't successful.

It's also a lot harder to define the human objectives than it is to identify business and technical objectives. But it can be done. If you are looking for increased business value realization for business change projects, look at the first step in your process. Have you fully defined the behaviors you seek to see? What are the gaps between what people are doing today, and what you want them to be doing in the future state?

If your organization is investing in business transformation or other kinds of enterprise wide business changes, don't shortchange the first step in the implementation process. Defining the change well directly relates to building readiness, generating sponsorship, building a communication plan, and reinforcing the change. Do a better job of defining the change, and you will be improving your organizational change management.

Labels: , , ,