Change is good.
Really? My observation is that few people accept change easily…which seems to indicate that they aren’t convinced that change is good. Mark Twain once said, “I’m for progress, it’s change I don’t care for.” Does that sound like someone you know?
Implementing information management systems is a notoriously tough business…with a lot of failures along the way.
I found a quotation in a large organization’s change management manual a couple of years ago that said “How we design and deliver the change is a key determinant of the success of the project. The most commonly repeated reasons for projects’ failure are directly related to the human response to a change. Two thirds of major change initiatives are ‘brought to their knees’ owing to employee resistance…”
In his online document “Change Management 101: A Primer“, Fred Nickols writes…”The honest answer is that you manage [change] pretty much the same way you’d manage anything else of a turbulent, messy, chaotic nature, that is, you don’t really manage it, you grapple with it. It’s more of a leadership ability than a management skill.”
We know that we’re touching three things with system changes…technology, processes and people. Technology is the easy part. Changing processes often runs into the organizational change or people issue. So the hard part of a change initiative is organizational change. Most change initatives don’t include much in the way of organizational change management (or the owners of the initiative believe that training = change management), and this is why many inititives struggle to reach the potential…or fail.
Ready, Aim, Fire
Seems logical. You set some goals, plan how you’re going to reach those goals, then pull the trigger on execution. And it is logical as long as you’re dealing with known quantities. You know…you’ve done this type of project before and have a pretty good ideal of what it takes to be successful, both internally and externally. To be successful, the goals have to be reasonable and the stake-holders need a good grasp of the success criteria. But if you’re stepping into some uncharted territory, the strategy could be more wishful thinking and there’s a risk of over-planning when you in fact have a lot of unknowns. Ahww…who cares…we can always blame the people responsible for execution!
A good percentage of the posts here touch on the topic of thinking. But can you “over-think”?
Ok…I’m going to carefully step out on a slippery slope here and try to find a balance. On the one hand, we can labor overt what our strategy should be, and spend so much time honing it that we never actually get into the execution phase…or miss the window that would have produced the most fruit from execution.
My observation is that organizations and individual leaders tend to fall into four categories when it comes to finding a balance between planning and execution. I’ll use a metaphor to explore this. BTW…ALL metaphors break down at some point, and I can quickly point out how the one I’m going to use does, so don’t get too wrapped up in the metaphor itself.
For our purposes here, “Ready” = Strategy Development, “Aim” = Planning, and “Fire” = Execution
- Ready, Aim, Fire
- Ready, Aim, Aim, Aim
- Ready, Fire, Aim
- Fire, Fire, Fire
We’ll explore each in subsequent posts, but a hint about where I’m going can be found in the following quote…paraphrased from a conversation with Paul Marshall, Vice President, Bentley Systems, Inc…
“A (B) Strategy with an (A) Execution will beat an (A) strategy with a (B) Execution everytime.”