|Posted on April 26, 2011 at 11:07 AM||comments (0)|
As a business leader, you can help your IT supporters to build or buy you the software applications you need to enable your business processes.
You, or the people you designate, need to work through your needs of a software application. Your IT analyst can help you. An important area to consider is how your needs or requirements relate to one another. I recently wrote an articale on the website Sofware Quality Connection that talks about requirements traceability or the relationship between requirements.
Have a read and remember to ask your IT folks how they manage requirements on your behalf.
|Posted on August 29, 2010 at 2:09 PM||comments (0)|
Unlike my regular posts, this one is a link to an article I wrote for Dell and IT Expert Voice. Check it out!
Here's the link...
|Posted on August 17, 2010 at 3:14 PM||comments (0)|
Identifying, analyzing and making changes to business processes takes time and effort, and incurs expense. Changing how things are done impacts roles and responsibilities and can trigger employee resistance. Before embarking on process reviews and changes, it is wise to consider the types of benefits you might gain.
Each organization is different and the actual benefit numbers will vary, but below are some common benefit areas to be aware of and better yet to plan for.
Revenue generating benefits. These are opportunities to change current processes and practices to directly or indirectly increase revenue. These benefits are often the hardest to achieve as the changes needed usually break current mindsets and can fundamentally change roles and responsibilities. They often also have the highest payback. Here are some examples:
These are just 3 examples. What examples can you imagine for revenue generating process improvements in your lead generation processes, your product placement processes or your sales processes?
Cost saving or cost avoidance benefits. These are process and practice changes that allow you to remove costs from the organization or to delay or avoid new expenses. This is where process improvement efforts are often focused. Every organization should be looking at running as efficiently as possible. Remember though that no organization has ever cost-cut their way to roaring success!
Here’s some benefit areas to look for:
Risk reduction or risk reaction benefits. There is little doubt that this is a growing area of process work. Benefit areas include:
The ultimate benefit to risk reduction or being able to react to a realized risk, is maintaining the organization’s reputation. Fines can hurt but rarely kill an organization. But if customers, clients or funders lose faith in your ability to provide the product or service they expect, you may never recover.
Process review and redesign to build in the needed controls, checkpoints and governance are often required. The trick is to balance the cost of the process work, and the ongoing execution of the changed processes, with a realistic assessment of various risk scenarios actually happening. It is far too easy to paint emotion-laden pictures of horrific happenings that sway leaders to build in process controls that are just too heavy and ultimately hurt the organization’s ability to run efficiently. Worse, processes heavy with rules and controls are the ones people most often don’t follow, defeating the purpose of the process work in the first place. In some cases it is better to have a process to react to a risk when it happens than to have a heavy process that tries to eliminate or reduce the risk.
Measurement benefits. Process reviews and improvements provide an opportunity to define and build in key metrics for processes. It really is true that you can’t manage what you can’t measure. More importantly you can’t improve if you don’t know how things are currently working. Having the ability to measure current reality sets the stage for continuous improvement. As with process work to reduce risk, it is necessary to carefully assess what needs to be measured and ensure it can be done efficiently without adding unnecessary weight to the process. Beware the seemingly endless human desire to create and consume statistics whether they add real value or not!
Process review, analysis and redesign work can and must result in benefits that surpass the cost of the work to change the processes. Make sure you are looking in all the right places for benefit opportunities.
|Posted on June 9, 2010 at 5:55 PM||comments (6)|
Recently a friend of mine wrote an article for Project Times (From The Sponsor's Desk; In Your Face) on a project I led a few years ago. As he and I emailed back-and-forth about his article I was reflecting on went well with that project since successful projects are never just about the project manager.
We had a skilled and enthusiastic team and we had great sponsors. As I further thought about other successful projects I’ve led or been part of it seemed that great sponsorship was a consistent pattern. Strong teams and strong project managers may overcome mediocre sponsorship to deliver not-bad projects. Truly great projects need all of strong teams, strong project managers and great sponsorship.
Of the many great sponsors I’ve been lucky enough to work with, few have had the same personality or business skill set. So, I started to think about what they did share. Here’s my list of things to look for in a sponsor or aspire to as a sponsor. I’m sure many of you can add to this list and I’d love to hear from you!
Clear understanding and definite dissatisfaction with the current state
Clear sense of the future direction without preconceived notions of the final solution
Active in risk management
Makes the right decisions
Willingness to serve the project and the project team
Expects results and is willing to pay for them
I can think of many more detailed items but these are the key things I look for from a sponsor.
Perhaps it is no surprise that this is a very similar list of things I look for in a leader!
|Posted on May 7, 2010 at 12:08 PM||comments (0)|
External pressures like recessions, new competition or new regulations force you to look at your products or services and the processes used to deliver them. You move into improvement and change mode because there is no choice.
But when things are going well, the external world isn’t knocking hard on your door and no one in the company seems to be complaining, it is so easy to sit back, smile and enjoy. That is certainly understandable and maybe, for just a short period of time, a necessary rest period for the organization.
Do not rest for long! You have been given a unique and precious opportunity to examine your business, to do what I call the Reality Review.
What is this?
A Reality Review is a brutally honest assessment of the current state of your business or some piece of it. Here’s a sampling of the questions for a review:
For a key business process:
A Reality Review can also take a look at your people management, performance management and leadership strengths and weaknesses.
The point is to take the stance that good can always be better. In fact it is often also true that good can hide pockets of bad.
Why do a Reality Review?
Beyond assuming that you want to know what is working and what is not, here’s a list of reasons that all have bottom line impact:
How do you do it?
You can and should gather some statistics. I would certainly want them as part of the overall picture. But too many organizations get buried in the “data trap”, arguing about which data should be collected and what the results of the data collection are actually saying.
More importantly, statistics are a passive review. A true reality review requires something far more active. Consider:
You, or a small project team needs to get out there, live it, see it and experience your processes as your people do and your products and services as your customers do.
An active review does not have to take a lot of time, though it does require some planning to ensure the time used is effective in discovering the reality of your process, service or product.
A side benefit to this active observation and review is that you will discover data points to track that will end up making your statistics much more meaningful in future. A quick story to illustrate…
A few years ago I worked on a project that was focused on streamlining system interactions for several hundred customer service assistants across the country. The project team spent time sitting in regional offices getting a first-hand view of how the existing systems were used. While in these offices every team member watched the computer network go down unexpectedly, often several times a day. Input data was sometimes lost and the interruption time to restart and get back on track was several minutes. There were no help desk statistics to show this was an issue. People had given up calling to report something that no one seemed to do anything about anyway. The project team put some simple code into the new system they were delivering to track when the system did not close cleanly and were able, over just a few weeks, to statistically prove the network problem. The problem did get fixed and tracking was put in place to ensure the systems really were available and reliable on an ongoing basis.
Make Reality Reviews a part of your culture
You do not have to wait for down time to do a Reality Review. Every project has the opportunity to embed active observation into its work. Not only will the results of that project be improved, you will continually find areas for improvement.
You will build leadership credibility. Your people will feel like they are really being listened to and consulted about the direction of the company.
No one should bury an organization in constant change and knowing when to act on improvement opportunities is key. But go ahead and be the restless leader. The one who can take pleasure and pride in what has been accomplished while still looking for opportunities to further grow organizational capability.
|Posted on May 3, 2010 at 7:42 AM||comments (1)|
While Capability Insights is all about pragmatically helping you improve your organization; this is after all a blog and will occasionally wander off on tangents and reflections on leadership. Such is the case today! I promise though to tie today’s wandering back to leadership and the previous posts on management of change...
People are neither rational nor logical. Google either of those words and the definitions will look something like:
The best boss I ever had would sit quietly while I railed, complained or ranted on the perceived issue of the day, then look over and gently say, “Brenda, you are expecting people to be rational and logical.” Now, if you hear that enough, and believe me I heard it a lot, you have to start thinking about what it means. I was forced to consider how this statement affected me and the projects I was trying to lead.
I considered that perhaps I was capable of logic but “they” were not. There were 3 serious issues with this possibility:
At that point the light bulb went on for me. “They” were being rational and logical when I understood the reasons behind their actions or behaviours. When I was not aware of the reasons, the actions and behaviour appeared illogical and irrational. What did this mean for me:
So, in fact, people are quite rational and logical when you understand the context they are working within. Good thing since my whole light-bulb process feels quite logical and I’m now in no danger of being a non-person!
What does this mean generally for leadership and for managing change in your organization?
By the way, I’m not suggesting that irrationality and poor logic don’t exist; just that we jump to that conclusion more often than necessary. And it hurts our ability to improve our organizations.
|Posted on April 30, 2010 at 3:42 PM||comments (1)|
The term organizational change is a bit misleading. Yes the change may be needed for the health of the organization and yes, change can and should impact the organization. But change actually happens to individuals. If your people don’t acknowledge, accept and ultimately embrace the needed change, your improvement initiative will fail.
Effective communication will reduce your frustration in managing the change and significantly increase the success of your improvement efforts.
Communicate the organizational context
Everyone needs this. Here you have to communicate the what, why, where, when and who of the change. In the previous post (Just What is the First Step to Managing Change) we talked about you and your management team having a clear understanding of the business drivers and rationale for the change. Share this widely...share it often! Share it in many forms: e-mail, presentations, newsletters and one-on-one.
Help your people and teams see that there is a reason for the change and that they have an important role to play.
Communicate the individual context
While the organizational context is necessary, the personal context is critical. We are human units first and ambulatory work units second! We need to make sense of the change in our own personal context.
Be prepared to answer and re-answer the following questions:
Even your most ardent supporters from an organizational context will need to have a good picture of the personal change context to stay focused and help you move forward.
Be prepared and plan for you to handle these questions for your management team and for them to communicate with and coach their people.
|Posted on April 26, 2010 at 11:43 AM||comments (0)|
Almost all management of change approaches or methodologies talk about building understanding as the first step in managing change. While true, management of change is part of a bigger picture. The first step in successfully managing change is knowing what the change is and why you have to make it. That places management of the change properly in the context of managing your business.
It is very difficult to build understanding in others or to articulate effective change messages unless and until you and your leadership team have a clear view of:
Many sales organizations talk about having the elevator pitch for whatever they are selling. That’s a great concept to borrow for communicating and advocating for your change effort. Good elevator pitches come from having a solid understanding of the opportunity/product/service, or in this case the change.
More importantly, if you have the answers to the questions above you are well positioned to build understanding of the change across the organization (be that an area, a department or an entire company).
But let’s take a step back. You may be asking why you need to manage change at all. You know what’s needed and why, there is very likely some urgency to getting things moving. You are so ready to move into detailed planning and implementation! And there’s the problem. You and perhaps your leadership team may be ready. But the rest of the organization is not there with you. Yet.
Improperly managed change often results in:
Properly managing change is not just about ensuring the absence of the negative. It is also about getting things done and getting them done in a manner that builds the organization's change capability and makes future evolution that much easier.
So, the very first step in managing change is actually doing all the good disciplines of business management that leads to your understanding of the change. Then you can start to share that understanding with others.
|Posted on April 22, 2010 at 11:13 AM||comments (0)|
Improving capability (people, process or leadership) inevitably means change. Management of change is a required element of success. Yet few of us do it well.
Let's say you've embarked on a process change that impacts a couple business processes and by default the people working in those processes and the leaders of those processes.
Management of change is the glue that pulls all those excellent elements together. Rather than think of management of change as "that soft, fuzzy people stuff" think about it as a governance framework for making sure the time and effort you've put into changing those business processes actually results in improved capability.
The next few posts will cover some management of change basics for you to apply.