The ORG effect in Transformation programs

What do you think are some of the most difficult challenges seen around executing Large Transformation Programs?

And i am not talking about – the size, the scale or the complexity or technology involved. 

So what matters? 🤯

Here’s a list of a few “critical must-have”, “should keep-a-tab-on”, and “cannot afford-to-miss” aspects.

1. Understanding Objectives – the big O

Challenge: A lot of times, programs run into friction / even get shut down at various stages, because of lack of clarity and focus on what it was set to achieve, and not reminding people about it constantly.

  • Also, due to existing organisational culture / dept. structure and hierarchical bias, some of the critical outcomes get lost in translation and are never really passed on to the project team. 
  • Having a short sighted view on deliverables only, is always a recipe for disaster.

What is needed: Ensure that there is crystal clear understanding of the Outcomes (typically Business / Operational / End User oriented) versus typical IT Deliverables

  • You also need to understand what used to happen in the pre-program era so as to be able to relate better to the new outcomes and re-validate understanding
  • Put sufficient focus in baselining and tracking this, throughout the course of the program
  • In long running (multi year) programs, sometimes the outcomes are impacted / need to be aligned with changes / influences (mainly external), be aware and prepared

2. Understanding Roles and interplay – the big R

Challenge: Almost all large programs today come with their own share of, a multitude of implicit and explicit impact. There will be horizontals and verticals to deal with and this is one of the biggest make or break aspects.

What is needed: Prepare a very solid stakeholder mapping across all teams and ensure you build a way of getting them hooked onto the project activities and status / progress on an ongoing basis.

  • Ensure everyone understands their role and you understand what is expected from each stakeholder and it is your responsibility to intertwine both*
  • If the program is multi year and waterfall in nature, then figure out ways of testing the waters with stakeholders earlier on and frequently (like getting end-User feedback way before actual UAT, planning MVP, Pilot release etc)
  • How you identify & manage all the stakeholders, with required transparency, involvement and alignment, is the key

*note: you can look forward to as much support / buy in from stakeholders as you can reel them in (directly proportional) or keep them occupied, so go ahead and be as creative as you want to.

3. Understanding Governance – the G spot

Challenge: A typical large program will have a complicated governance definition / structure including subtle and not so subtle plays on power dynamics. Not understanding these will lead to overheads and expense of energy and time on solving unnecessary problems or delays

What is needed: Have a solid governance structure defined that ties in ownership and expectations, to cover the complexities listed above.

  • (Over) communication and (disciplined) collaboration
  • Always operate with the principle that its best to deliver the bad news up front than wait
  • Make the most of executive sponsor(s) and steering committees. They are the ones with the maximum incentive to see this through
  • Do not settle for routine^

In summarizing, the ORG effect / influence in transformation programs cannot be ignORGed 😀

^one needs to go beyond the traditional governance methods of W-M-Q governance and typical status reporting / dashboards. Figure out what else would interest the stakeholders and contextualise the dashboard and reporting as well. This is the most overlooked part in any execution and probably one of the simplest tools to deliver maximum impact as well.

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