I want to return to the topic of my last post, prioritisation, and I’m going to extend some of the thinking from it.
I briefly highlight this point to raise one of the major challenges with prioritisation. It is not the activity deciding of what you are going to do, but the decision not to do something. These may simply seem to be the inverse of each other. Perhaps. But psychologically it seems easier to say “yes I’ll do this”, than “no I will not do that”.
If you are the sort of person who follows my posts, here or elsewhere, the chances are that you are interested in organisational change. The chances are also fairly high that you have been involved in several change initiatives. I expect that at many times your organisation has struggled with change.
I feel confident enough to say, if you have never struggled with change, then that’s because you have never been involved in a change of any complexity.
This is an example of an introductory talk I gave to an organisation’s internal change network. These were willing and interested participants in change, but mostly people with limited experience. The specific project was an ERP implementation in an organisation that had just gone through a major merger. However, this talk could be adapted to any change situation. It was first used in Spring 2017.
Hi everyone, and thanks for the introduction. I’m going to be working with the company over the next few months to help us get ready for the transition from where we are now to where we want to be. My focus is really the XYZ Project, but like any change you cannot really deal with changes independently and need to think about the wider perspective.
I want to talk about some words – specific words, but in order to do this I’m going to start with a big generalisation.
The important thing about words is that they have meanings. Because words have meanings we are able to communicate about all sorts of objects, ideas, concepts and whatever other entities, things or stuff we want to talk about.
I have been involved in projects and programmes for a long time. Long enough that I sometimes think I can smell the state of a programme when I am first engaged on it. By smell of course, I really mean pick up certain small aspects of behaviour that give me a feeling of confidence or concern.
Imagine you are working on a project and it is going to finish late. It is a scenario that many of us will be familiar with. Is the project a failure? That depends. There are many situations in which a project is late. There are many situations in which a project – or at least a properly defined and well run project looks late, but isn’t. This happens when we confuse aspirations with plans.
There are many reasons projects and programs get in trouble. Problems we are all familiar with include: poorly defined goals, lack of sponsorship, ineffective prioritisation and access to resources, and when there is no drive to make progress. I have been involved in lots of projects in my career, and I’d love to say every one of them was a success, but it would be a lie. Quite a big lie. I have been in projects with every one of these problems, sometimes all of them.