However, in our experience working with a wide range of organizations on this topic, steering program efforts back to ‘green’ is not only realistic, but entirely possible through a handful of key intervening actions. And, it doesn’t have to be painful. We’ve seen first-hand how program leaders can thoughtfully make some relatively small adjustments to their approach to ensure that the transformation effort gets back on-track and continues to progress to-plan.
In part one of this two-part series, I’ll explore how, through a handful of intentional and pragmatic steps, you can shift your transformation program back towards success from the dire precipice of imminent defeat.
Survey the Landscape
Any type of change program is complex, whether organization-wide, or focused within precise business units or functional areas of an organization. Once momentum is feared to have slowed, or hurdles start to circumvent progress, it may be beneficial to take a step back to audit the program and survey the landscape to assess problem points.
Are all critical areas of the program well-defined? Are workstream leaders clear on their goals and where they feed in and support the larger objective? Are support and enablement teams fully aligned?
In our experience within large programs, the definition of each ‘area’ or workstream is essential in driving the success of the entire initiative. These definitions are essential to clearly delineate not only the program structure, objectives, and how it all “fits together”, but also the individual roles & responsibilities of each ‘lead’ and how their individual efforts contribute to the larger whole.
Even within well-defined workstreams, problems could exist beyond alignment and objectives; it could be a function of not having enough dedicated resourcing, lacking the right fit for skill or leadership, or teams may not have enough deep connectivity and engagement. Either way, seemingly smaller areas or workstreams within a program will inevitably play a much bigger role at various phases throughout large integrated projects and should never be minimized or overlooked.
Often, through a program audit and landscape assessment, these challenges can be identified and overcome before it is too late; under-performing or ill-defined workstreams and tasks can be brought back into the fold to be core enablers to success.
The Right People in the Right Places
Naturally, landing the right people into key leadership and delivery roles up-front is critical to any program. However, we sometimes find that organizations struggle to strategically position all the necessary skills and personalities, and find themselves playing catch up – or worse, building out their teams organically as the project continues. If you sense this is where you’ve stalled, you’re not alone. The success of any transformation program will be driven through your lead PMO and their workstream PMs. Without the right fits here, and their dedicated alignment to the organizational mission, everything else will be at risk.
Our recommendation is to take a step back and critically review these key roles and the individuals assigned. Are you playing to your project managers’ strengths? Do they have the right team of skills to support them? While a seemingly obvious concept, we’ve found far too many program sponsors ‘shoe-horn’ loosely compatible skills into critical roles to get them filled and to get projects off the ground. The reality is, not everyone’s strengths can be utilized fully in this way, and it can even limit a program’s velocity if not addressed.
Putting the right people in the right places to succeed is a leader’s top priority; continually monitoring and shifting when necessary is essential to maintain positive momentum. It is never too late to carefully and thoughtfully tinker with key roles on your program.
In the second part of this series, we’ll look at why tracking your program using the right metrics, and ensuring your team is fully aligned to the vision, are also critical factors to drive your project to the finish line.