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The Right Leadership is not Optional

My assertions are:

  • the trusted lieutenants in the business are the right people to lead change
  • if these people are the right people and can be helped to lead change you will succeed
  • if these people do not lead change you will fail

Simple and most people agree with these statements.  So why in so many cases do the most important people in the business end up NOT leading transformation – which by definition is big and is probably the most important thing going on in the business.  How many of the mistakes below is your organisation making?

MISTAKE 1:  KEY LIEUTENANTS CANNOT PARTICIPATE AS THEY ARE TOO BUSY

Of course they are.  They are the most important people in the business.  It is your choice.  Is it easier to free these people up enough to participate in transformation leadership; or to risk almost certain failure of a programme they feel they do not own?  Your choice.  Backfilling key lieutenants is easier than delivering a programme with no credible internal leadership.

MISTAKE 2:  A PROGRAMME MANAGER NEEDS TO LEAD TRANSFORMATION

Programme management can easily be added to a programme.   Leadership and support from the key people in the business cannot.  It doesn’t matter how many Gantt charts you produce if you do not have the support of the key players then you are just an efficient reporter of failure.  By the way – I have news – nobody reads Gantt charts !

MISTAKE 3:  SPLIT TRANSFORMATION INTO FUNCTIONAL PROGRAMMES    

Most companies split business transformation into distinct functional initiatives.  But what about the end-to-end?   A business has to work “joined up”.  Your customers sort of expect it.  And your profitability sort of depends on it.   Who is in charge of making sure the business is joined up end-to-end?  If the answer is nobody (or worse “the senior team”) then there is a high risk (certainty) of battles over priorities and resources; poor co-ordination of change; and sub-optimisation (or non-achievement) of overall outcomes.

MISTAKE 4:  GIVE TRANSFORMATION LEADERSHIP TO I.T.

If you build a separate entity called “transformation” this tends to have a higher profile than the individual components.  Large cross functional transformation often has a systems change at its core so is run by I.T. or, worse, an external contractor or consultant.  Either way the most important people in the business feel like they don’t own the transformation and like it is optional to commit.  But they will still be expected to do the majority of the leading of change.   It only takes 1 to not play ball.

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