Category Archives: Book Review

Systemic Blunders

Structural failures leading to change failures

Government BlundersIn the previous blog I described the book, The Blunders of our Governments by Prof. Anthony King and Sir Ivor Crewe which describes a series of major blunders by our governments. The third part of their book covers the systemic failures (as opposed to the human failures) which have contributed to significant waste and failure to change. In this blog I will discuss these systemic failures.

In particular I will re-cast the failures into the frame of organisational change. Click here to see what the failures are

Avoiding Blunders

Blunder: a spectacular change failure

Government BlundersA book I have just finished reading contains some excellent ideas for avoiding a complete failure in a change. The book, The Blunders of our Governments by Prof. Anthony King and Sir Ivor Crewe describes a series of major blunders by our governments. In each case a government minister set out a radical change in the way things are done and ended up wasting billions of pounds and abandoning the change. The most famous is the introduction of the poll tax; but there are eleven biggies in here. As with many significant change failures, its not just the government that is hurt (well its the taxpayers that foot the bill for these in-competencies) but also customers: you and me (who are also tax payers). Similarly, those at the top who should be accountable seem to have the traditional punishment of promotion and whitewash. The authors identified errors in human thinking and system errors which led to these blunders.

These are the human thinking lessons the authors put forward (the system errors are in the next blog posting): click here to see the lessons

Do you know why?

picture of the word whyWhy is it important?

Three things popped into my mind this week: a paper in the recent Sloan Management Review about the basic question every project should answer; a graphic in a book about project types due to Eddie Obeng; and recollections about reviewing projects. They all revolve around the question ‘why are we doing this project?’. The answer for a change project is the list of benefits! But obviously tackling the question is harder than you might think.

click here to find out how hard and why!

Quick, effective decision making

Mid Level Manager MLMGood enough decisions

Making decisions in a fast moving change initiative with deadlines and issues is very hard. Making the best decisions is impossible. Yet most managers in a change are hung out to dry for their bad decisions (with hindsight).

A re-think about decision making and the culture around it is needed to improve decision making and thus produce better decisions.

click here to find out how

Strategic change journey

insightInternal strategic change for fast growth

I have written in the past about the need for change in an organisation being driven by strategic change outside. A recent article in the Harvard Business Review on Transient Advantage by Rita Gunther McGrath (one of my favourite management authors) shows that there are internal drivers for change which are just as powerful. This is particularly relevant for Fast Growing businesses.

McGrath identifies 5 stages of growth and decline that an entrepreneurial business goes through to seek and exploit a competitive advantage. She argues that a sustainable advantage (one that once secured is there for ever) is a fallacy and that competitive advantage comes and goes as markets and technology change. To continue to be successful a business should cycle through a number of competitive advantages by repeating her stages of growth and decline.

Click here to find out what this means for you