Friday, February 7, 2014

What Makes a Successful Transformation Project

Mind Shift is the Softest, but the Toughest Part in any Transformation. 

Transformation not just means change, but more about quantum leap, to create something new out of old, to evoke fundamental changes in the basic political and cultural systems of the organization, and to build unique sets of capability to adapt to continuous disruptions. Now many organizations are at tipping point in the digital transformation, what make their effort successful?

Mind Shift: Success is much easier when shifting people's mindsets to a transformational mindset. Since all "strategic" projects must accomplish some degree and type of transformative goals, these are necessarily defined as tangible benefits outcomes both in the business case and the projects' technical and management deliverables. To do this, re-frame initiatives to include the following goals.
1). Improve effective decision making
2). Identify improvement and revenue opportunities
3). Managing objectives and identifying the challenges for meeting them
4). Deepen business insight
5). Enforce competitive advantage
6). Solidify regulatory and compliance
7). Instill a positive culture and experience

Board Leadership: The company's Board should itself take ownership of all projects in the company that are defined as "strategic" or transformational, usually during the annual planning of capital spending. One Board member should be made owner of a corporate PMO that manages the governance, project business cases, project interdependencies, high level resource planning, risks registers, and reporting to the Board. The corporate PMO, reporting to the Board member, is accountable to ensure that no projects enters the implementation phase until/unless all project governance quality stages have been defined by a designated project manager and reviewed/approved by a business sponsor. 

The Quality of Planning: The probability of success of large, strategic projects is causally linked to the quality of the pre-implementation phase planning and key within that are the governance and decision-making adopted and applied by the Board, the Business Sponsor and the corporate PMO. Where "transformation" means people/ organizational/process changes, then the project's Communication Plan is mission critical. Employees must be "on board" culturally to the project's intended aims. It is the Board's and the project's business sponsor's responsibility to make clear to employees before project start-up the vital business reasons for the work and to actively cultivate buy-in. Even senior project managers with plentiful experience rarely have the authority to drive effective and timely behavior change unless this is also explicitly and consistently backed by the highest levels of management. 

Overcoming Roadblocks, even with shifting everyone to the right mindset, management needs to work around with road blocks. The typical road blocks for transformation projects include: 1). Culture 2). Politics  3). Budget.  Buy in from top management and stakeholders. Resistance is an integral part of any Change Management process. But getting the push from the top by making change management a part of general vision/strategy for the company or group goes a long way in diluting the resistance and motivating the end users to adopt the change more willingly. It should also be aligned with the lower levels of the organization. If it is not sold well to the lower levels then the execution of that change will not be successful. So if that change is really critical then this has to be a part of the goals for the employees. If the employees truly believe in the idea then making this a part of their goals will ensure that this change is implemented. Analyze both positive and negative factors in planning transformation.
1). Palpable "enterprise wide" feeling that systemic change is long overdue;
2). Board & C-Level team believes in and can effectively make the case for the referenced need;
3). Deliberative and informed approach on how to get there etc.
1). Been there done that and here we go again;
2). Big WHY confusion: Why are we doing this and perhaps more importantly, the folks that are doing this on our behalf(s) do not know what they are doing;
3). How is the work going to get done, while we engage in "change making" etc

Indeed, transformation is the more ambitious sounding term, in addition to the set point changing, transformation requires first shifting mindsets, then building new capabilities/skills, reinforcing and embedding new practices/reflexes. Transformation is an adventurous journey, enjoy it!



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