Tag Archives: outcomes

Is assurance the next big thing?

The next big thing


I propose that assurance is the next big topic in programme and project management. I am reading more about it, customers are asking about it (though not yet for it!), and we have just finshed a new qualification for people doing project and programme assurance with our partner Aspire. The catalyst for this article is an excellent white paper from our partner Bestoutcome on the importance of Gateway reviews for assurance.

click here to find out about doing assurance

The failure dilemma for change management

The Dilemma

SuccessFailureWhat about the mythical 70% failure rate for change in organisations? This has been searched for quite dilligently in the literature by Mark Hughes; who concluded that although well reported by very respected reporters, there was very little substantial measurement data to support the reports. Hence it becomes an urban myth. The dilemma is: what is the cause of the myth? Is it a myth about performance in doing change (the reality is that the success rate is much higher); or is the cause in the way success (and hence failure) is defined?

Click here to see some answers?

Better training outcomes

Aim higher, be better

Strategy in ChangeAs an experienced trainer I am often frustrated by the poor (or most likely non-existent) post training activity of the candidates which should be consolidating their learning during the course.  Why would any manager invest in training their staff if their organisation is not going to benefit from it? Well it turns out that most managers do exactly that. This blog will look at what outcomes are available, what needs to be done to achieve them, and how C4CM can help you aim higher and get better returns on your training investment.

C4CM provides certification for learning programmes. Our new accredited set allows us to distinguish between training outcomes and provides managers with evidence of the effectiveness of their investment.

read on to find out how

The strategy dilemma for change

Strategy in ChangeTranslating a guess into a plan

The dilemma for change managers leading a strategic organisation change is translating the uncertainty of the strategic analysis and decisions into actionable plans to deliver benefits. The problem is that there is no right answer to the question “what should our strategy be?”

The strategists have looked into the future using a number of strategy tools and have identified some scenarios which appear to be good for the organisation. The resulting strategy they have chosen (captured in their strategic objectives for the organisation) is dependent on an array of factors, some under the control of the organisation, many are not. Since it is not possible to carry out a trial of the strategy you have to run with the one chosen and make the best of it.

In making the best of the current strategy the change leader must also hedge some futures so that any changes made to the organisation keep open as many options as possible for the future and don’t back the organisation into a position where it no longer works in the reality that arises.

What can the change leaders do to manage their dilemma?

Click here to find out

Making Decicions Work

Before, During, After

Scott McNealyI have put up a number of posts about making decisions and especially the key role of decision making in Change Management; such as ‘Good enough decisions‘ and ‘making decisions at the right time‘. I have come across a quote, attributed to Scott McNealy a founder and CEO of Sun Microsystems, which has put decision making into a bigger context and has implications for the process of doing change. The quote is “I put most of my effort into making my decisions work”. The insight I get from Scott is the need to balance the effort in decision making across the whole process leading up to the decision, making the decision, and implementing the decision.

A decision process

It is not difficult to build a three step process for decision making. What is surprising is that most of the effort (as suggested by Scott McNealy) is in the third step. Here are my suggested steps:

  1. Prepare for the decision
  2. Make the decision
  3. Implement the decision

Decision StepsBased on my earlier blogs and reading (such as the Chip Heath book on Decision Making) I have put together a simple description of the steps following the diagram on the right.

1. Prepare

The work in preparing covers:

  • Working out the information required to make the decision and getting hold of that information.
  • Choosing the appropriate time to make the decision (not too early and not too late) see blog on big science.
  • Exploring the risks around the decision: especially assumptions about the future and information that cannot be obtained in time to make the decision (which leads to assumptions).
  • Working out who needs to provide input to the decision and who will make the decision.
  • Preparing options for the decision.
  • What needs to be done to implement the decision and who needs to be involved, given the options and risks. (Most decision making is choosing between options).

 2. Making the decision

Making a decision should be a social activity. The people who need to be involved should be able to debate the options, risks, and possible outcomes. Hopefully those represented will reflect the people affected by the decision. The person who is accountable will then make the decision.

3. Implement the decision

This is the piece of insight for me. Having made the decision in the best possible way given the risks and options the person responsible now puts their shoulder behind the effort to make this decision work. This implies not taking a fatalistic view of the future (it will be what it will be) but of being proactive and making the future fit the plans so that the decision works.

This is the part where all the effort happens. The preparation for the decision will have identified activities needed to make the decision work; including risk mitigation activities.

Decisions in Change

There are lots of decisions to be made during an organisational change: what to change, when to change, who to change, etc. If we follow a significant decision: to actually start the change in a part of the business — typically moving from planning the change to implementing the change — we can see the similarity in the change process built around this decision. A similar decision lies around declaring the change complete (the outcomes and performance have been achieved). In both cases, the effort to make the decision work comes after the decision and is quite substantial.

I like the idea of making a good enough decision and then working hard to make it the right decision; rather than working hard to make the ‘right’ decision and then hoping hindsight is sufficient. You will notice that politicians often fret about being right and don’t like being wrong; and that the media hold them to account in a similar way. Is this a good way to run a country, let a lone an important change? Let me know what you think via twitter or add a comment to the blog.