June 8, 2009 | Author: PM Hut | Filed under: Corporate Transformation
Business Improvement Mechanics vs. Corporate Optics and Politics
By John Bolden
If the mechanics of improving the business are intuitively simple; why do so many business improvement projects fail to meet expectations…?
At any moment in time, every organization will be in the throes of change to a greater or lesser degree. Projects; tens, hundreds even thousands vie for resources, time and attention; concurrently striving to address defensive, offensive, expansion, growth, contraction and improvement pressures.
Business schools, research firms and consulting organizations proffer significant empirical research that at least 75% of all business projects or change initiatives fail to meet expectations, partly or wholly.
Most, if not all analysis conducted on project failure examines how a project was managed and what went wrong… in other words looking at a specific change initiative or project as a Singularity!
My perspective differs somewhat, my research focused on Project Multiplicity within the context of Corporate Singularity. What does this mean…?
An idea, an imperative, an impulse or an order to grow, improve, or strengthen the organization occurs within the context or framework of the organization as a whole. Such initiatives seek to change, adjust or alter the very operating fabric of the organization in some way, some will be broad and sweeping while others will be limited and specialized.
All are part and parcel of Corporate Singularity.
Corporate Singularity has two dimensions: The first is the ‘operating state’ of the organization now. The second is the ‘operating state’ of the organization as and when each initiative that is underway, planned or contemplated is injected, integrated or implemented into the organization. As each initiative completes, it becomes part of the ‘operating fabric’, a new now.
This dynamic, constantly evolving view of ‘what is’ and ‘what will be’ is Corporate Singularity. When leaders and strategists look out across the organization from the Corporate Singularity perspective they will see ‘what is’ and, in fact, see as many ‘what will be’ operating states as there are initiatives.
Except… Initiatives become ‘projects’ and Project Singularity is not Corporate Singularity. Viewing and managing a Project as a Singularity has advantages; it reduces complexity; enables focus and is attractive since it offers clear delineation of scope, costs, timing, resources, etc. These advantages; however, are limited to the perspective of those tasked with project delivery, after all, a singularity is far easier to envision and control.
Unfortunately, Project Singularity carries the burden of potential harm to the organization as a whole and, by extension, to the project at hand. These dangers are latent at the onset yet rear up quickly, complicating and impacting the orderly progression of the project from inception to implementation and beyond.
These harmful traits, in whole or part, can rip a good, worthy project to shreds. Essentially; projects will cost more, take longer, with lower quality, unsatisfactory acceptance and less than acceptable bottom line contribution.
Project Singularity begets Project Multiplicity. Simply put, projects follow other paths. They are subject to influences other than those that justified the project (initiative) for inclusion in Corporate Singularity. I label the major Project Multiplicity influences as follows:
Machiavellian Multiplicity: Turf wars, politics, competing egos and not-in-my-backyard perspectives dominate project decisions and actions…
Corporate Singularity is of secondary importance, protectionism rules at the expense of Corporate Singularity…
Competing Multiplicity: Diametrically opposed objectives, rationale or plans; often focused on the same target for differing purposes…
Multiple Viewpoints of Corporate Singularity, what it is, who owns it and why - who ever delivers a project first, wins…
Singularity Multiplicity: Silo viewpoints occlude reality and practicality, incremental singularities proliferate as disconnects surface…
Corporate Singularity is open to interpretation; silos plug gaps and chasms of their own making with project solutions of their own making…
Multiplicity Generators: Reactive, insular responses to multiple demands of competing interests; resulting in too many projects, too often, each in isolation…
Corporate Singularity becomes policy rather than process and, exception handling becomes the norm…each necessitating a project.
Assumptive Multiplicity: Compelling business case arguments usually “end” at out-of-scope boundaries; downstream and parallel impacts are rarely fully inclusive…
Corporate Singularity has no boundaries, disconnects abound…’not in scope’ cries echo everywhere.
Divergent Multiplicity: Corporate objectives are diluted, secondary to the need to personalize or customize according to whim or circumstance…
Corporate Singularity infers commonality and standardization, entrepreneurial energy has to find a niche…’skunk works’ fill the void.
These influences are indicative or symptomatic of hindrances to the mechanics of projects. They are representative of the negativity inherent in the dynamics, optics and politics that surround projects and without doubt, they usually preface disastrous project results.
Let’s now take a few minutes to drill into each influence…
If you would like to learn more about the seminar themes I speak to, types of consulting engagements and research that underpins my thinking, feel free to browse my web presence at http://www.TLIRGroup.com
RMA, Mil C, C/MBB-ISSSP. F-IICM, F-IPMS
Transformation Leadership, Innovation & Research
John Bolden is renowned for value laden advice that stakeholders depend on when assessing the wisdom of investing billions. John’s views and observations enable corporate leaders to ask the right questions, probe problematic answers and avoid surprises.
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