Why would anyone bother?
By Mark Vincent
You’re trying to implement a new finance system and it’s now 9 months behind schedule and 30% over budget, the board is getting more irritated each time you meet and you’re feeling the pressure. You may even be thinking to yourself, “I’m getting too old for this!” and yet you’re only 51!
A growing pile of problems?
From specific reporting needs to trying to figure out all the different local system integrations, the number of new problems to resolve seems almost endless. And let’s not get started on agreeing a common global chart of accounts, that seems more complicated that putting someone on the moon!
The finance teams in each country say they are on board but you’re not seeing much evidence of that. Each week at the project team meetings actions are agreed and then next week a new set of reasons present themselves as to why they haven’t been done. Week after week and now here you are 9 months overdue. And to make matters worse, other projects are relying on yours being completed so they are being held up as well.
So why would anyone bother?
That is the question of course, maybe the one that didn’t really get answered properly at the start. Maybe the business case made rational sense. That PowerPoint deck with 150 slides, full of detailed narrative and complicated ROI predictions and assumptions, some of which seem laughable now.
So if the business case made sense and the project or programme makes sense, then why is it running late and over budget?
The real problem is that no one really cares…
…no one cares enough to get creative in solving the challenges that are popping up.
…no one cares enough to prioritise this change above all else
…no one cares enough to make the personal sacrifices needed to ensure this project is successful
…no one cares enough to accept the personal risks associated with doing something different, something that may not succeed
Maybe that’s unfair, maybe some people do care, but there are just not enough of them…because if everyone did care…
…they would find ways to work together to solve the challenges
…they would prioritise this above all else
…they would make the personal sacrifices needed to ensure it succeeds.
…and the project would be delivered faster, maybe even ahead of schedule and within budget too, most likely delivering even more benefits than expected.
One recent global project that affected all of us was delivered in one twelfth of the time it normally would take. If one group of people can do it, everyone can. If one project can do it then all of them can.
Give them a reason to care, a reason that inspires them to take action
We’re in a world of increasingly rapid, even exponential change, driven by global uncertainty and game-changing technological advances. And never has there been a time when the most talented employees have had more choice about where they work, whilst workplace stress is also on the increase, much of it driven by the way most business change is being done.
If you continue doing what you’ve always done, then it’s highly likely you’ll get what you’ve always got and in the case of big transformation, the statistics aren’t pretty.
Yet there are incredible success stories, so what are they doing differently? When you look through a different lens everything looks very different.
Want to know more?
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• Applied Change
Whilst it may seem radical to some at the moment, I think it’s likely that organisations which thrive in future may have a lot in common with what’s discussed here. Some of these themes are already in evidence, for example in the excellent TED interview with Reed Hastings of Netflix. I should urge caution though, it’s not for the faint-hearted!Read more
• Mark Vincent
An excellent TED by Dan Ariely on the importance of meaning to our motivation and therefore our level of engagement and creativity at work.Read more