“Clarity breeds mastery” – Robin Sharma
When we initiate a technology-driven-change project, we all want to start off right. We all want to be successful in the end. Now, let’s put the odd exceptions aside for a second and make the assumption that when you turn the ‘Wheel of Fortune’, it does actually spin to the point where you make a jump for joy, because you have achieved all your goals: 100% project success on all counts.
In reality, the likelihood that you reach that ultimate, optimum state is not that high. If you read the number of articles about why project fail or not deliver what was originally intended, we still have ways to go. The wheel of fortune is highly symbolic and refers to the fact that things go in cycles. There are good times and there are bad times. The main idea behind this mysterious wheel is that you are fully aware of what’s happening inside and outside of you, and that you are taking actions to influence the outcome when required.
So, what can you do to make sure that when you do spin the wheel, you land on an acceptable spot or at least make a significant step forward from where you are today? Here are 3 behaviours that you want to embed in your project organization:
- Clarity: Be transparent in your goals, actions and communications; remove ambiguity all the time
My experience is that organizations that were able to achieve their goals through people, process and technology change, provided full clarity of WHAT they wanted to achieve and communicated that to all project stakeholders at the right time at the right place with the right level of detail. They realized that clarity is progressive and subject to change. Therefore they assigned highly skilled leaders to key roles in the project organization, who are mindful of the fact that ambiguity is a ’silent killer’. Think about roles like the project sponsor, project leader, solution architect, functional and technical team leads and the organizational change management lead. They were all aligned, committed and capable of adequately communicating the project goals, solution direction, business impact, project strategies and major risks.
- Far-sightedness: Always be prepared and have alternative plans to make things happen
The same organizations had a well-defined, structured and communicated project plan. They consistently went through a recurring planning process, such that the project team and business stakeholders knew what was coming when, why and from whom. At the project level there were alternative strategies and plans readily available in case circumstances required the team to adjust the course. Where possible alternative delivery strategies where followed to expedite or to be responsive in case business requirements were for valid reasons in a state of flux.
- Stamina: Never stop, but keep moving forward, also when you feel you are making a step backwards
Perseverance is crucial for all business transformation projects to succeed. “All change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end” [Rob Sharma]. It’s oftentimes said that technology-driven-change is like a ride on a roller coaster or a bad day on the stock market. A caveat to that statement is that nobody knows when you are about to make a turn or enter a circular loop. Like nobody can accurately forecast the price of oil, it’s the same for managing change. At best you can make reasonable predications based on past behaviour. Organizations who have been successful in dealing with significant change wisely invested in professionals, who know how to prepare, avoid or respond to different kind of scenario’s and sudden shifts in motion. Companies who ‘go on the cheap’ will in the end be less cost effective. They may have saved on project cost, but likely have not achieved the ‘deep change’ that is needed to achieve the end user adoption and planned business benefits.
When you are about to turn the ‘Wheel of Fortune’ make sure that you are prepared. When you land in a spot where you don’t want to be, ignite your action plans and sit through it. A key element of the preparation is making sure that you have the right team. As I mentioned in previous posts, in the end it is all about having access to talented and intrinsically motivated people. It’s rare that process and technology change put the project in a ’troubled’ state.
Bas de Baat
Program Manager Enterprise Applications, PMP© | Solution Architect