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Five Rules for Implementation Success: Conclusion

Our series on successfully implementing a new improvement program concludes with Martin Wing and Kepner-Tregoe consultant Jens Refflinghaus discussing the importance of engaging people who are crucial to the implementation process and how each one of them plays a part in the overall success of the program.


Access previous posts in the series here:

Five Rules for Implementation Success: Rule 1

Five Rules for Implementation Success: Rule 2

Five Rules for Implementation Success: Rule 3

Five Rules for Implementation Success: Rule 4

Five Rules for Implementation Success: Rule 5


The Transformational People Plan

So, in addressing the failures outlined previously – and to maximize our probability of implementation success, we need to address the engagement and involvement failures of people, teams and the organization in the context of the implementation model. We also need to look for the role models who make those things happen.

A Good Individual Job

Everyone comes to work to do a good job. There are, of course, those who need more time and energy spent on them than others to get the most out of them. Yet few come to work thinking, “I am deliberately going to underperform today.” When it comes to interaction and communication, the failure to execute well at an individual level will be down to the performance environment that surrounds an individual. In particular:

– Expectations not matched or aligned in their situation,

– Inability to be clear and precise,

– No feedback,

– Out-of-balance consequences.

Exceptional people excel because they create their own performance environment. They don’t wait for others. If the expectations are unclear they clarify them, if they have not received any feedback they go and source it, if they don’t have all the resources they need they go and find them. Excellent performers not only deliver on their promises, they know how to remove the barriers that might get in the way.

Knowing the performance system and its strengths and weaknesses in relation to your own and others’ behaviors will give you the edge.

William Egenton continues: “It has added tremendous value to the Dromone team to get external support, but it is also important that there is the mutual respect at all levels so that the role modeling, coaching and feedback can all be acted upon without any negative connotations.”

For every individual contributor we have to ensure they are set up to make the five rules of the implementation model meaningful, relevant and above all, tangible.

An Effective Team Result

When transformation is required, it means involvement from across all functions and departments and at the right pace. Too much engagement and things move too slowly, too little consideration and stakeholders won’t have fully ‘bought in’ and won’t be ready for implementation. So, many of the decisions have to be team-based. Not necessarily formal teams, but ad hoc teams quite often playing to different rules with different characters and different styles. In truth not everyone needs to be involved in every situation. There are, however, two key variables which determine the level of involvement and engagement:

– Does it make a big difference which course of action is adopted?

– Is commitment of others critical to effective implementation?

These two questions heavily influence the involvement style that should be adopted. If the answer to both is no; don’t waste time—make the decision and move quickly. If the answer to both is yes, then it is not so straightforward. It is critical to understand the difference between a consensual and a consultative style. The simple involvement model identifies five different involvement styles; only one is truly consensual. The underlying influence that ‘involvement style’ plays on the implementation model’s five rules is difficult to quantify, however the alignment of expectations and prioritization of capability development are key.

An Organization Transformed

Alan Brache describes an organization in an holistic illustration he calls ‘The Enterprise Model’. He likens an enterprise to mechanical systems, in that all the moving parts have to interact in a predefined harmonious fashion. They are dependent upon one another for success. And so it is to implement human capital-focused transformational change. A new organization structure or a redefined role, a new system or the definition of a business process alone, won’t bring about the transformation some organizations need.

The principle is simple. It is the business process that adds value to the organization. Therefore to address our reasons for failure of transformational change, the understanding of what supports our business processes is essential. The decisions we make in our teams and the things we do as individuals all have to be aligned and work in synchronization. Ignore one element at your peril, as it is this element that allows the doubt and uncertainty to creep in. The focus on business process and aligned metrics both in running a business and through the implementation model only goes to further illustrate the difficulties so many managers and leaders have in both running their business and changing their business simultaneously.

Conclusion: Critical Implementation Success Factors

It is, of course, all about people. Jim Collins wrote: “Get the right people on the bus, sit them in the right seats and then figure out where to take it.” Without the right people with the right skills in the right place, implementation becomes virtually impossible. So returning to our original question: is it simply that improvement initiatives fail because we don’t have the right people? Individuals can’t do it on their own. There needs to be flawless interaction with peers, within teams and across an aligned and purposeful organization. Of course we need to develop our people to transform the organization, but in developing those people we must ensure we know:

– What the skills are targeted to achieve

– That the business processes are aligned

– The business culture, leadership and performance environment are aligned, and…

– That there is coaching support, facilitation and guidance every step of the way

After all, the very best in the business of sport need their coaches, why not the very best in the business of business? In one pharmaceutical company with which we work, the stigma has been lifted. The coach whose existence was once denied is now introduced by their executive to colleagues in a lift; a badge of honor, a sign that investment and support for the very best can only make them better.

We will finish with a two line tale and don’t get us wrong – some of our best business colleagues are CFOs:

– CFO to CEO: “What if we develop our people and they leave?”

– CEO responds: “What if we don’t develop our people and they stay?”

We need, therefore, to recruit, acquire or create our heroes of change. If they don’t already exist, the team needs supplementing. But at the end of the program, we need those talented people to have delivered their all and be ready for the next challenge for which they are now much better equipped.

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