STAKEHOLDER IMPACT ANALYSIS

Consultants and other business advisors are frequently brought in by senior management to establish and lead a change program within the business. This brings to mind an old joke. How many consultants does it take to change a light bulb? Just one, but the light bulb has to want to change. An old joke for sure, but it reinforces the inescapable truth that a consultant cannot change a business. Only the business can change the business. If the business does not want to change, then there is nothing the consultant can do.

But who is the business? The business is a collection of people working together to achieve a common objective. For change to be successful, these same people need to band together to build a momentum for change that cannot be stopped. The organisation must push over the tipping point to make change inevitable.

The problem is that, in large organisations, whilst most staff support the overall business objectives, they don’t necessarily agree on the best way to achieve them. A characteristic of large organisations is the proliferation of subcultures throughout the business. These subcultures are normally aligned to the different stakeholder communities or silos that make up the business. Depending on the specifics of each subculture, change will be met with a range of mindsets. Some will say, “I have been here fifteen years and I’ve seen it all before. It didn’t work then and it won’t work now.” Others will say, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” And still others will say, “We welcome the opportunity to change.”

For change to be successful, these individual communities need to be recognised, understood, and engaged as stakeholders in the change program. The trick is identifying each different stakeholder community and determining how change will individually and collectively impact each community and how each will respond to the proposed changes.

This paper will not discuss in detail how to identify individual stakeholder groups. Rather, it will examine how to evaluate the impact of a change program on stakeholder groups and how these same groups can impact the change program.

It is common practice to start an impact analysis with a stakeholder identification exercise, the rationale being that once you know who the stakeholders are, you can evaluate the impact change will have on them. My experience is that an effective stakeholder impact analysis must start with an analysis of the impact of change on the business. After all, how can you be confident that you have identified the complete and correct set of stakeholders, never mind the impact of change on these stakeholders, until you have fully understood the impact change will have on the business as a whole?

I have found that while most change practitioners agree with the above, they also frequently attempt to complete both analyses at the same time. Inevitably, this will deliver a skewed and incomplete result. It is important to complete the studies sequentially.

To understand the business impact, it is easiest to use the traditional variables of people, process, and technology, with the addition of foundation items such as culture, strategy, policy, and rules. Collectively, these variables will provide the necessary width to complete a suitably comprehensive business impact analysis.

The objective of the study is to agree what will be different in the business as a result of the change. The following framework can assist.

Business impact table

The table is a summary of the impact of change on the business.

You will note that the framework breaks the headers of people, process, technology into their component parts. It is the component parts that are analysed, not the header itself.

A key part of any change program is effective communication in order to ensure senior managers understand the need for change. To be successful, it is vital that a senior stakeholder is able to quickly assimilate and understand the issues. It is not uncommon for an overly detailed analysis to be put in the “too hard basket,” causing the findings to be partially ignored or even lost entirely.

If the table is detailed, it can be supplemented with Harvey Balls to provide a quick summary of the extent of the change.

Dark (red) indicates a high degree of change.

Business impact table withHB

Using the Harvey Balls as a guide, it can be seen that the proposed changes will have a moderate impact on the business processes and a high impact on people, management practice, structure, and culture. There will be limited impact on strategy, policy, and business rules.

This summary is highly significant, as the common practice in business improvement programs is to map the business processes. In this case, understanding the business processes may be important, but it is not where the real game is. Rather, a strong focus on people and culture is more likely to deliver the desired business benefits. The detail in each cell describes the nature of the change.

Depending on its size, a change program will comprise multiple projects or work streams, each focusing on a different aspect of change such as Quality, HR, IT, or operational improvements.

The framework can be used for each project within the program. As before, Harvey Balls can be used to indicate the magnitude of the change within each project.

consolidated business impact table withHB

This type of analysis will provide a manager with a ready snapshot of the impact of each project’s specific changes on the business. While this view is valuable, it is incomplete.

What is required is a consolidated picture of change across all projects.

Project summary unclassified

The table provides a consolidated and immediate insight into how the projects will individually and collectively impact the business. You will note that the subcategories of “people” have been removed. This is to support the principle of “easy to understand.” Senior stakeholders will want to know how much change will impact their people. The fine detail is unlikely to be important at this time.

In the example, project 3 is anticipated to have the biggest impact across the entire business, and management practice, access to information, and culture will be most heavily impacted across all projects.

Project summary

This table now becomes the basis for determining the real stakeholder groups. Given that process flows are not a top three priority, it is unlikely that the process operators are going to be a primary stakeholder. Conversely, their managers are identified as a primary stakeholder. This is reinforced when you consider management’s impact on culture and access to information.

With this insight, that change program can set its priorities and tailor the messaging appropriately.

To understand how the change program will impact a specific stakeholder group requires the application of a consistent numerical scale. Such a scale could be:

  1. No impact
  2. Low impact
  3. Moderate impact
  4. High impact
  5. Maximum impact

Each stakeholder group is then evaluated according to this scale and the results are tabulated as follows. The stakeholders are listed down the page. The types of change the stakeholders will go through are listed across the top of the table. Once again the variables of people, process, and Technology are used to guide the analysis. It is unlikely that the detail will be a mirror of the business impact table, but is expected that the business impact table will inform the variables used in this study.

Stakeholder summary table

The table is completed once the totals column is complete. To really make sense of the table, graph it and rank it from highest impact to lowest.  It is clear that the first six stakeholder groups will be most impacted by the program and the last four stakeholder groups will be least impacted.

The primary difference between the stakeholders on the left hand side of the graph and those on the right is that those on the left will typically be operational staff and those on the right will be senior managers and executives. The seniority of these managers means that they are unlikely to be substantially impacted by the technical aspects of the change program.

stakeholder graph with circles

This type of stakeholder analysis is common practice and in the normal course of events, the change program would target the top six with specific interventions and deal with the bottom four with general interventions. The stakeholders in between would gradually move from specific to general.

By general activity, I refer to interventions aimed at groups, rather than individuals. It would be brilliant if a company had the time and resources to work with each person in the company individually. This luxury is seldom, if ever, open to large companies and so change is addressed with general activities.

My critique is that this is a one-way study, in that it only evaluates how the change program impacts the stakeholders.

In my opinion, a far more critical analysis is an evaluation of how the same set of stakeholders could impact the success of the change program through their actions, be they positive or negative, or simply through inaction.

The point of this second study is to determine which individual stakeholder groups could substantially impact the success of the project if they wanted to. Consider: if the executive team chose to, they could terminate a specific project or even the entire program, a particularly substantial impact. If the service desk became disenchanted, they could reduce the quality of the customer service they provide. This would dilute all the good work done on the rest of the project. It would not stop the project, but it would have a detrimental effect on customer satisfaction.

To complete this study, the scoring can again be on a simple low to high scale, as the evaluation is more subjective than objective.

  1. No impact
  2. Low impact
  3. Medium impact
  4. High impact

When completing the analysis to determine how stakeholders could impact the change program, it is important to use the same stakeholders that were evaluated in the first study.

Stakeholder impact on project

As before, the scores are graphed. It is important that the stakeholder sequence is kept constant as per the first graph.

reverse stakeholder graph

It can be seen that, unlike the initial study that produced a smooth graph, this study produces a saw-toothed result, indicating that there are stakeholders across the full spectrum that can significantly impact the project.

Of particular interest are the stakeholders on the right. In the first graph these stakeholders were scored very low as they were deemed to be senior or executive managers and therefore largely unaffected by the technical aspects of change. But in this second graph, they have a very high score as they have the position and power to substantially impact the project.

The full strength of the analysis is evident when the two graphs are compared.

stakeholder graph comparison

As expected, there is a strong two-way impact across the first four stakeholder groups. These are the primary stakeholders impacted by the project and, if the change program does not fully enlist them in the change program, then it will be almost impossible to achieve sustainable business improvements.

Equally, when looking only at the first graph, it is unlikely that stakeholder groups 8 and 9 would have been considered particularly important stakeholder groups. But when combined with the second graph, they become high priority stakeholders.

The first graph is an analysis of the technical aspects of the change program. It evaluates which stakeholders will be impacted by the change and the data behind the graph will tell you why they are impacted. In many respects, change will happen to these stakeholders whether they want it or not. This does not diminish the responsibility of the change manager to minimize their resistance to change as much as possible.

By comparison, the second graph reflects the political aspects of the change. While these stakeholders may or may not be directly impacted by the technical changes, they will be acutely aware of how the change program could impact the business financially and their own reputations within the business and the market place. These two considerations make them a particularly important set of stakeholders. This is particularly true as you move towards the right. The change manager needs to work very closely with these stakeholders as they are not directly impacted by the change program, “whether they want it or not” and can choose their own level of involvement.

This dual analysis is of critical importance when it comes to communicating with each stakeholder group. The primary stakeholders in the first analysis will need to be sold on how important the change program is to the business and how important they are to its success. At the other extreme are the priority stakeholders identified in the second analysis. As per the first group, these stakeholders will also need to be convinced that the change program is strategically important to the business. But they will also need to be convinced that the business improvement program is being well managed and that it is unlikely to have a detrimental impact on the reputation, operations or finances of the business. If any of these tests fail, then the program runs into the very real risk of being cancelled.

There is a further relationship between the two graphs. The senior stakeholders on the right will frequently have the organisational position and authority to instruct the stakeholders on the left. This makes these senior stakeholders even more important when it comes to designing the initial communications and prioritizing which stakeholders need to be engaged with first.

There is one other stakeholder group that needs to be considered as part of the impact analysis, namely the business improvement team. This is the group of people who are working full-time or close to it on delivering the business improvement project. They may or may not be part of the program office and frequently this team will be a blend of full-time employees and contractor staff.

For me, this is one of the most important stakeholder groups on the project. This team is a catalyst for change in the sense that they create change, but are not themselves changed. They are also a temporary group, constituted for the life of the program. For these reasons, they are seldom, if ever, evaluated as part of the impact study.

A key responsibility of this team is executing an effective communications strategy. They will decide on what messaging is communicated to which stakeholder group, on what frequency and format. The importance of getting this strategy right cannot be underestimated as it will directly influence how the business perceives the change program.

It is therefore vital that the health and competence of the team is measured and managed. If this team becomes disillusioned or suffers from poor morale, the consequences for the success of the program would be significant. Equally if this team does not have a common understanding of the objectives of the program or how the various projects fit together, then they will be prone to delivering mixed messages to the business and undermining the very change they are trying to create.

STAKEHOLDER MOTIVATION

I am frequently asked to write on the mechanics of change management, a level of detail I have tried hard to avoid until now. The reason is simple—change management is complex, it is difficult, and it should not be reduced to a series of “cookie cutter” activities. I will never understand why large business improvement programs frequently refuse to pay a decent wage for the change manager’s role. On less than successful programs, it is common to hear statements to the effect of “the change management work stream failed” or “we would have delivered a better program if we had started the change piece earlier” or other words similar in nature. These statements assume that the business improvement program had any change management at all. Frequently, this is not the case.

No doubt, each unsuccessful program would have involved the completion of a stakeholder analysis, the delivery of training, and the publishing of communications. But I doubt all of this was delivered in a cohesive, integrated broadside to the organisation. I use the word “broadside” deliberately. Treating them as activities is why business improvement programs fail to deliver the required changes in organisational behaviour. Activities tend to get completed sequentially and then signed off as complete when delivered. In this case, the business improvement program has at best, a change coordinator. “We have done the stakeholder analysis.”—tick.

When it comes to change, the most fundamental question to ask is: so what? What has been learnt from a change activity? What is the business going to do with the information?

Note that the question does not ask what the program team is going to do with the information. That is of lesser importance than what the business is going to do with it. This distinction is vital, as the program team cannot change the business. Only the business (line management) can change the business. The program team will do all the heavy lifting required to meet the agreed deliverables. It just won’t change the business. If the business does not want to change, then the program office, despite its best efforts, will deliver a sub-optimal result and the senior management team will once again wonder what went wrong. By the time they realise that they had abdicated their responsibility for achieving a successful outcome, it will be too late to make corrections without the need to invest significantly more money into the program than what was budgeted for. Effective stakeholder management substantially reduces this risk.

Effective stakeholder management starts with the program sponsor. The sponsor is accountable for achieving the business benefits and this, by necessity, must include accountability for the change management work stream. Consider: if the business was serious about improvement, then it would hardly make sense to make a support function (change manager) accountable for achieving the structural and cultural change necessary to deliver the desired business benefits. The change manager’s role then becomes one of a subject matter expert designated to guide the sponsor through the difficulties associated with change. This would not exempt the change manager from their responsibility to prepare traditional deliverables such as impact studies, training packs, communications, etc.

A primary variable in any change program is people’s behavior, as individuals and as groups, and the key objective of the change program is to establish predictability of behavior. Predictability cuts both ways. The change program must provide predictability to those staff impacted by the change so they know what to expect, and equally the change manager, working through the sponsor, must provide management with predictability of how those staff will respond to the change and what is required from them as a senior leadership group. When people know what to expect, then they will be more accepting of the change when it happens, even if the change has a negative impact on them.

In practice, predictability and stakeholder management are synonymous terms and this means stakeholder management moves from being a discrete task in a change management plan to being the backbone of all the change management activities. To further illustrate this point, consider the following typical change management plan.

Change plan

To actively manage stakeholders requires agreement on who the stakeholders are. A stakeholder impact analysis workshop will help to identify the extended set of stakeholders. Stakeholders can be individuals or groups. For example, the CFO is part of the executive team, a key stakeholder group, and yet the CFO is important enough for the role to be identified as its own stakeholder group. In this way the CFO is referenced twice in the stakeholder management plan.

The impact analysis is a determination of how widely the “ripples” of the business improvement program will be felt. Ripples are typically operational, financial, or reputational. I define these terms in the broadest possible way.

The above methodology table indicates that the impact analysis is completed prior to the stakeholder management workshop. In practice, the two activities are iterative aseach informs the other.

Once the stakeholder groups are identified, then the next step is to determine the best means to engage with each group, to bring them into the change program and cause them to actively participate. Basic psychology says that this is best achieved by engaging them on topics that interest them, in a manner that interests them. To this end a simple 2×2 matrix that cross references Power (the capability to influence the direction or outcome of the program) to Interest (the desire to influence the direction or outcome of the program) is a frequently used methodology.

Power interest matrix

This type of analysis is only valuable if the terms Power and Interest are understood.

In her article posted on the American Express OPEN forum, (https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/s/?query=Nicole%20Lipkin%20)

psychologist Nicole Lipkin discusses seven types of power, namely:

Legitimate Power is where a person in a higher position has control over people in a lower position in an organisation.

“If you have this power, it’s essential that you understand that this power was given to you (and can be taken away), so don’t abuse it,” Lipkin says. ”If Diane rises to the position of CEO and her employees believe she deserves this position, they will respond favourably when she exercises her legitimate power. On the other hand, if Diane rises to the position of CEO, but people don’t believe that she deserves this power, it will be a bad move for the company as a whole.”

Coercive Power is where a person leads by threats and force. It is unlikely to win respect and loyalty from employees for long.

“There is not a time of day when you should use it,” Lipkin tells us. “Ultimately, you can’t build credibility with coercive influence—you can think of it like bullying in the workplace.”

Expert Power is the result of the perception that one possesses superior skills or knowledge.

“If Diane holds an MBA and a PhD in statistical analysis, her colleagues and reports are more inclined to accede to her expertise,” Lipkin says.

In order to keep their status and influence, however, experts need to continue learning and improving.

Informational Power is where a person possesses needed or wanted information. This is a short-term power that doesn’t necessarily influence or build credibility.

For example, a program manager may have all the information for a specific program, and that will give her “informational power.” But it’s hard for a person to keep this power for long, and eventually this information will be released. This should not be a long-term strategy.

Reward Power is where a person motivates others by offering raises, promotions, and awards.

“When you start talking financial livelihood, power takes on a whole new meaning,” Lipkin says. For example, “both Diane and Bob hold a certain amount of reward power if they administer performance reviews that determine raises and bonuses for their people.”

Connection Power is where a person attains influence by gaining favour or simply acquaintance with a powerful person. This power is all about networking.

“If I have a connection with someone that you want to get to, that’s going to give me power. That’s politics in a way,” Lipkin says. “People employing this power build important coalitions with others … Diane’s natural ability to forge such connections with individuals and assemble them into coalitions gives her strong connection power.”

Referent Power is the ability to convey a sense of personal acceptance or approval. It is held by people with charisma, integrity, and other positive qualities. It is the most valuable type of power.

The most frequently used definition of power is legitimate power and using this definition alone is short-sighted. Staff who have relatively low legitimate power can have very high power when it comes to influencing the success of the program. This is especially true for subject matter experts who have expert power.

Once you consider all seven types of power, then it is likely that the set of identified stakeholder groups will be refined and expanded.

Equally, Interest can have multiple variables. I recommend using the sameas those used to determine the “ripples”in the impact analysis, namely:

Operational Interest is a primary focus on structure, strategy, environment, and implementation; a desire to improve the operational effectiveness and efficiency of the business.

Financial Interest is a primary focus on the ROI and the impact on the balance sheet.

Reputational Interest isa primary focus on the company’s reputation in the market or the individual stakeholder’s own brand value.

Typically, all three variables will apply to each stakeholder group, but each group will have a leaning to one or another of them. For example, a middle manager will have a high interest in the operational benefits of the program and a lower interest in the financial aspects. They get their salary no matter what, so financially the program may not change their situation much, but operationally, the program could materially impact their work environment.

Then there is a forth variable to interest—self-interest.

Self-Interest is a primary focus on oneself. The WIIFM question or “what’s in it for me?” How will the program impact an individual’s personal circumstances?

This analysis gets interesting when it is used to evaluate how the nature of a stakeholder group’s interest will change depending on the health of the program.

To fully consider the relationship between the power and interest variables, it makes more sense to use a table rather than a simple 2×2 grid.

Slide-21-A

In this example, “Executive Management” has legitimate power with a primary interest in the financial results of the program. They are focused on ensuring the program is on budget and is delivering the promised ROI. They will also want to be sure that the change program is enhancing or has a neutral impact on the reputation of the company. As they are senior managers, they are less interested in the day-to-day operations and should be least worried about their “Self-Interest.”Obviously, depending on the specific circumstances of any given change program, the priority between the four interest types will change.

The above prioritisation should remain true while the business improvement program is going well. It will change if the health of the program declines and starts to have an adverse impact on business operations. When this happens, executive management will want to ensure that the business can still run and consequently, they will become less worried about delivering the program on budget. Their primary interest will switch from “Financial” to “Operational” and they will start to release additional funds. “Financial Interest” is reprioritised to second place and “Reputation” moves to third.

If the program health declines further, they may switch their primary interest to “Reputation” and start to take action to ensure reputational damage is minimised and operations are stabilised. “Financial Interest” moves to third priority.

In these examples, I have left “Self-Interest” at priority four, assuming that the executives are all professionals. It is realistic, however, to believe that individual executives will start to reprioritise self-interest higher up the scale depending on their exposure to the consequences of a failed program.

By comparison, the stakeholder group “Subject Matter Expert” is characterised by technically competent staff who are experts in their field. This group will typically have a high “Operational Interest” in the program, especially if it relies on their expertise and enhances their reputation (“Reputational Interest”). They will also want the business reputation to grow as it helps their CV. These staff may never rise to the senior levels of management and are less interested in “Financials.” Stereotypically, as long as the company keeps funding their budget they are happy. With a healthy program, their “Self-Interest” is the lowest priority.

If the program health declines, then their Self-Interest will very quickly get reprioritised to the top of the list, as a subject matter expert typically does not want to be associated with a failed program, particularly in their area of speciality.

As the program health changes, so should the mode of the interaction the program has with each stakeholder group.

The 2×2 matrix can now be used as a guide to determine the best means of interacting with a specific stakeholder group with the caveat that Power is changed to Power type and Interest is changed to Interest type and the message is tailored to suit.

The quadrant into which a stakeholder falls, dictates the suite of preferred interaction styles that could be used to engage with that stakeholder. Interaction types include:

  • One-to-one interactions
  • One-to-few
  • One-to-many
  • Email
  • Town-hall meetings
  • Theatre
  • Website updates
  • Intranet forums (chat rooms)
  • Awareness education
  • Workshops
  • Delegations of authority*
  • Technical training
  • Posters, brochures, and other marketing collateral.

 

* Delegations of authority refers to the degree to which a position or role can make a decision that will bind the company. Pushing delegation levels lower into the company should result in higher levels of involvement in the program as the applicable manager responds to the fact that they can make a meaningful and sustainable difference to the change program.

It should be noted that all types of interaction are relevant. What changes is the importance and reliance that should be placed on a specific type as a means to effectively engage a specific stakeholder group, with a realisation that the most effective mode will change with the health of the program.

Subject matter experts will probably respond to detailed website updates and awareness education sessions far better than to face-to-face meetings. Executives, on the other hand, will most likely respond better to succinct emails and face-to-face briefings. Tied to this, is the content of the interaction. As a stakeholder’s interest changes with the health of the program, so should the content covered in each interaction.

The matrix now looks as follows:

Power interest matrix with comm type

I close with a reinforcement of the principle that only the business can change itself and that the change manager must ensure that their activities do not absolve the sponsor and other key stakeholders from their accountability to make the program successful.

DRIVING CHANGE — A METHODOLOGY

Implementing change is difficult. Implementing change without a methodology is very difficult. This article will discuss the basics and provide a structure to guide your projects. It will have sufficient detail to be a stand-alone article, but when used in conjunction with the other content from my blog, it will definitely come alive and you will have all the models and structure you need to deliver a successful business improvement  project.

The methodology comprises seven steps. It is important to note that while they are broadly sequential in nature, it is common for two or more steps to be tackled concurrently. This is particularly true for steps 4a and 4b.

Sixfootfour methodology

Step 1: Agree project plan, scope and benefits.

This is a crucial step in successfully establishing a project. Taking the time to get it right will provide a positive return on investment through minimising scrap, rework and failure.

Typically the focus of this step is the preparation of a document describing the project. These documents are normally termed Statement of Work (SOW), Project Initiation Document (PID), or Project Memorandum. Irrespective of the name they include the same generic contents:

  • Business context
  • Project purpose
  • Scope
  • Methodology
  • Approach
  • Timeline
  • Risks and risk management
  • Constraints
  • Change management
  • Staffing
  • Roles and responsibilities

Depending on  the  author  and  company, additional headers may be included  such  as  budget,  success measures, related projects, and  a methodology for  handling  change requests. Traditionally the  project manager is  asked to  prepare the  SOW  and  the  document  is  then presented to the project sponsor and other stakeholders who review and approve it.

The biggest issue with this approach is that the focus is always on the document rather than what it represents; and it is typically always written in a hurry, often within a week. The sponsor reads the document and validates that all the information you would expect to see is there and that the timeline and budget are within bounds of acceptability and then accepts the document.

What is seldom done is for the stakeholders to formally put aside time to workshop the completed SOW to subject it to a rigorous level of due diligence. This workshop would ask questions such as:

1.   Is there a common understanding of the project purpose? Even if there is a purpose statement, does everybody interpret it the same way?

2.   Is there agreement on what success looks like?

3.   Does each stakeholder understand and accept what is expected from  them  throughout  the  course of  the  project and  more importantly, after the project?

4.   Is the risk table complete? Does it include project and business risks? Are the mitigation strategies considered practical or are they merely a cut-and-paste from the last statement of work?

5.   How will risks be managed? Merely writing them into the SOW is not managing them.

6.   Is the change management plan aligned to the risk plan?

7.   Does the resource plan make sense?

8.   Does the budget have contingency? How is it calculated?

The sponsor should allow ample time for this workshop. The desired outcome  is  confidence that  the  project is  considered and  that  the stakeholders are fully enlisted in  the  project. Not  just engaged, but enlisted. That is, they are fully and actively committed to its success.

Step 2: Establish project governance.

The due diligence workshop is the first activity in establishing active project governance. Governance is the active mitigation of risk through the proactive management of compliance and performance. Merely to be in business requires the acceptance of a degree of risk. This is no different when embarking on a business improvement project.

Good governance requires the establishment of a hierarchy of committees to manage the project. I have covered these committees in detail in other articles so I will be brief here.

The  phrase “change management” is freely used on  all projects. The reverse, “the management of change,” is not. There is an important distinction between the two concepts and it is oft-times overlooked.

Frequently committee members will attend project meetings, participate in discussions, and then mentally park the project in the back of their mind until the next meeting rolls around. They forget that their role is the active management of change and this requires a substantially higher level of involvement than merely attending a weekly project review meeting.

I suggest that change is managed through a three-tier structure.

32edit

The steering committee is a group of senior managers responsible  for ensuring the overall change program stays on strategy. A key point is that there should only be one steering committee. They are specifically responsible for steps 1 and 7.

The working committee is responsible for driving the tactical change initiatives. There may be two or more working committees depending on the size of the company and the breadth of change. The working committee is specifically responsible for step 6. By comparison, the steering committee is to ensure that the working committees output will meet and promote the company strategy.

Both committees can manage risk, budget, and change, the difference being the scope of authority.

The  project teams are responsible for the  day-to-day delivery of the project activities represented by steps 3, 4 and 5. A common mistake is treating the project committee as the working committee.

Step 3: Determine process metrics.

The purpose of step 3 is to collect and analyse primary data. Typically this step involves mapping business processes. In the methodology, this step is termed “determine process metrics.” This is an important label in the sense it does not say “business process mapping” as is frequently the case with business improvement methodologies. The  essence of this distinction is that it is equally or more important to understand the metrics behind the process than it is to understand the process itself. A methodology to calculate these metrics is covered in the article on process reengineering.

These metrics should be seen in the context of the unit of measure for the process. This step could produce a table as shown.

Path analyis table (2)

In terms of benefits realisation, this table can be used to calculate the benefits and priority of the change to be addressed in step 4a.

Step 4a: Critique and improve the process.

Once you have established the  process  flows  and  associated  metrics for the current mode of operation, you are in a position to determine improvements to the processes. The data will guide the analysis and quantify the benefits of  change.  Without  this  data,  it  is  difficult to confirm that any of the recommendations tabled will result in a substantial improvement. Different is not an improvement.

Business improvements can be achieved from changes associated with people, process or technology and any of their sub-components. The following table illustrates the primary sources of change.

Frequently improvement requires changes to more than one component.

 100 (3)

 Once you have worked out your business improvement strategies, you can quantify the benefits of change by determining the impact of the change on the same base data set from step 3. The results can be tabled as follows.

image005 (2)

Step 4b: Install refined process controls.

The problem with “businesses”  and “processes” is that they don’t  exist, or at least, they only exist in the abstract, as concepts. Fundamentally, businesses  are groups of people working together towards a common objective and processes are the habitual routines they follow to “process” the demand customers place on the company. To change a process requires changing the familiar routines people follow in their daily behaviour.

The guiding principle is “show me how you are measured and I will tell you how you behave.”

This is an important principle as it links steps 4a to 4b. In step 4a the focus is to reengineer the flow of activity through the business. In step

4b the focus is to review and reengineer the measures (KPI’s) used to manage the processes. Frequently there is no need to change the activity sequence (business process) as it is efficient. Rather change is required in the behaviours associated with the activity sequence in order to remove productivity issues such as pacing and “territory disputes.” This change can be achieved, in part or in full, through changing the way the process is measured.

Should the project objective be to specifically  review and improve the business processes, then this activity needs to be completed in conjunction with a  review of the  process measures. This  will prevent substantial investment being spent on defining new processes without concurrently establishing the means to drive the necessary behavioural changes.

Steps 5 and 6: Install and drive behavioural change.

The purpose of these steps is to operationalise the agreed changes. To install change is to change behaviour. Occasionally, changing behaviour is straightforward and happens without difficulty. Frequently this is not the case. To mitigate failure, a project requires effective change management.

The primary purpose of change management is to assist the company to  migrate from  a  project environment to  “business as usual.” My observation is that change managers often worry more about completing the standard activities of change management such as communication and training plans, than focusing on the primary purpose.

Strict management of the relationship between steps 5 and 6 is crucial for a successful project and moving to step 7. Measurement is mandatory to reach the highest levels of success at this time. There are two areas of measurement. The first is traditional operational KPI’s. These need to be aligned to the future state. This may require changing existing scorecards or even introducing new scorecards.

The  second area of  measurement should  be  aligned to  the  change program itself. The change scorecard should include metrics on skills development and staff attitudes. The intent is to measure both axes in the following matrix.

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Examples are: number of people trained; number and  organisational profile of  staff communicated to;  number  and  nature  of  questions received; survey results; and awareness sessions held.

Step 7: Realise benefits.

This step is the consequence of the prior steps. Success is measured against the business objectives described in the project statement of work and the extended objectives that will have surfaced through the life of the project. 

An oft-missed aspect of change is the need to be uncompromising. As the project “gets real” and staff members are asked to change their behaviour, the sponsor will come under significant pressure to relax their position on what success looks like. A culture of “close enough is good enough” is typical at this time. The point here is to emphasize that resistance to change is frequently invisible. It manifests itself in perfectly logical and plausible arguments that are all aimed at reducing the scale of change and the benefits realised. The staff making the arguments may not even realise that they are being resistant to change.

Mitigating resistance to change requires the manager to be aware of the three stages of change:

Stage 1: Mechanical compliance

Stage 2: Conceptual compliance

Stage 3: Utilisation 

                                                                             Source: Proudfoot

Mechanical compliance is characterised by instructing staff to follow the new procedures and being intolerant of reasons as to why it can’t be done. As staff become comfortable with the new way of working and establish the new routines of working, they will start to better understand the new order and, if the project has been done well, they will start to see the benefits. They are now at the point of conceptual compliance and once they are comfortable with the benefits of the new procedure they will move to the “utilisation” phase and will own the new way of working. When this happens it can be said that the project has fully migrated to business as usual and the benefits will be realised.

STRATEGY DEVELOPMENT WORKSHOPS

This article covers the basics of developing a business strategy. My favourite maxim on strategy management is “The bus that runs over the pedestrian is never the bus the pedestrian is watching.” This maxim reinforces the point that the value of a business strategy is directly related to the assumptions that underpin it.

When establishing a strategy, the first assumption is that the management team formulating the strategy all frame the conversation the same way.

Invariably this is not the case and the book “Reframing Organisations” by Boleman and Deal describes this phenomenon very well.

In their book, they describe four frames through which a manager can view the organisation and environment they work in.

  • The structural frame: a focus on how groups and teams are structured.
  • The human resource frame: a focus on human resource management and positive interpersonal dynamics.
  • The political frame: a focus on power and conflict, coalitions and dealing with internal and external politics.
  • The symbolic frame: a focus on organisational culture.

Recognising that managers may not be aware that they view the organisation differently as do their colleagues, it is important to agree the frame or frames the team will use through the strategy development process. It is acceptable that different managers explicitly adopt different frames to enrich the conversation and ensure groupthink is mitigated. It is only important that everyone knows which frame each person is using through the course of developing the strategy.

The strategy management process is depicted as follows:

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Simplistically, the purpose of a strategy workshop or process is to answer five questions:

1. What business are we in?

a. What is the corporate culture?

b. What is the risk appetite?

 

2. What is the endgame or, in other words, what does success look like?

a. Asset sale

b. Public listing

c. Family business hand-down

d. Stop investment and take the money in annual dividends.

 

3. Why will we succeed?

a. Analysis of the operating environment

a. How is value created?

b. Who are the competitors?

 

4. How will we succeed?

a. S.W.O.T. analysis

b. What is the business model?

c. What is the style and structure of management?

d. What are the priorities?

 

5. How will we manage success?

a. Organisation structure

b. Compliance management

c. Performance management

The strategy workshop should open with confirmation of the nature of the business, the company culture, and the risk appetite. The nature of the business is to answer the question: “What business are we really in?” Often the answer will revolve around business models such as treasury or risk. These models are then placed in the context of the business they operate in. For example, supermarkets are generally in the treasury business and construction companies are in the risk business. Understanding the company culture will inform the strategy process as to the nature of the risk the company is willing to take on. For instance, a conservative company will not endorse a high risk strategy.

It is difficult to develop a strategy if there is no consensus on the nature of business, culture and risk profile.

The strategy workshop can now move to an analysis of the endgame. The purpose is to establish agreement on the exit strategy. The exit strategy is a statement of how the owners will turn their investment in the asset into cash. Options include: sell it, list it on the stock exchange, or take the cash in billings without actually building the asset. An equally acceptable option is to give it to the kids.

The endgame question informs the investment decision. For example, it is very difficult to sell a professional services business and if the principles wish to exit the business, then investing in the business may not be the best way for them to get value from it. Rather they should maximise their billing and take out the value in dividends over the next few years, then simply close the business and walk away.

The endgame question is equally valid for a public company, but the alternatives are different. There is only one objective for the directors of a public company and that is to maximise shareholder value. This reduces the directors’ endgame to the alternatives of selling the entire company or selling the shares they hold in the company. There are a few additional complex options that are not included in this article.

If the business is saleable, or it is a public company, then the exit strategy will always be to sell the shares for the highest value possible. The business strategy must therefore focus on activities that increase share value in a sustainable manner.

The longest practical time horizon for a strategic plan is three years and many would argue that this is too long, but this depends on the market the company operates in. Developing a three-year strategic plan does not imply that the owners will exit in three years. The time frame is only to provide context for the strategy workshop and if the strategy development process is conducted annually, then the three years becomes a rolling three years. For some markets such as infrastructure development, the investment period is well over ten years.

At the beginning of this article I mentioned the need to manage assumptions. Through the course of agreeing the endgame, a number of explicit or implicit assumptions will have been made and the next stage of the workshop is to expose and critically examine these assumptions and answer the question: “Why will we successfully achieve the endgame?”

The intent of the question is to force an examination of the assumptions made about the market the business operates in (external environment) and the business’s ability to operate in that market (internal capabilities).

There is no right or wrong order in which to approach these two mini workshops. My experience is that workshop participants need to discuss their internal environment before they can properly consider the external environment. The problem with this approach is that it can become very myopic and the thinking becomes constrained to considering what is known, rather than including what is unknown. If the workshop sequence does start with an analysis of the internal environment then it should include a reconfirmation of the results after the external analysis concludes. This will ensure the capabilities considered in the internal analysis adequately address the opportunities and threats identified through the analysis of the external environment.

For the internal analysis workshop to be successful it is important that there is agreement on the core business. That is agreement on the question: “What business are we in?”

Understanding what business you are in, tells you what you must be competent in and, by inference, what the business must be capable of.

Many capabilities create a competency.

 

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Source MGSM

The internal analysis is therefore a review of the existing capabilities against the nature of the business. It is a review of what exists now and what capabilities need to be introduced or enhanced. To guide the identification and classification of capabilities I recommend the B.T.O.P.P. model. It is a simple but practical model for structuring the analysis.

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It is important to keep the analysis at a high level to avoid getting mired in conversation on the nitty-gritty. The following table provides a good structure for collating the results.

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Source MGSM

Column A can be renamed “business objective” or “core competencies” or similar. The last column is important. It captures the group’s opinion on what needs to be resolved to close the gap. I recommend using the B.T.O.P.P. model here again to check for completeness. This is in addition to using it for the capabilities analysis. For example, if the desired capability is to be able to establish a “multi-local” distribution chain or to be capable of transacting in multiple currencies, then the issues will be multi-faceted. Using the B.T.O.P.P. model creates a common vocabulary for recording the issues.

There are many models that assist with the analysis of the external environment such as Porters Five Forces (shown below), the P.E.S.T. (Political, Economic, Social and Technological), and P.E.S.T.E.L. (PEST + Environmental + Legal) frameworks.

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Source: Porters 5 Forces

The results of the analysis can be captured in a table as shown.

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Column A describes the nature of change anticipated in the market.

While the table is simplistic, care should be taken to include as much detail as possible when describing the anticipated change. This may require adding additional columns. Depending on the depth of the analysis, a different table may be used for each analysis topic, or one table for all. The table is intended only to collate the issues, not to solve them so there is no column for mitigation actions.

The internal and external analysis addressed questions 3 and 4 (referred to at the start of the chapter) and provided the raw data required to answer question 5. The workshop is now ready to consolidate the issues and prioritise the actions for the next 12 months, 3 years, 5 years etc. The critical issues framework can assist with this process.

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Source MGSM

The methodology is to use the grid to “sift” the issues gathered through the two analyses to determine the critical issues. It is important to treat the grid as a “relative” analysis in the sense that all the issues are important, but some are more important than others. This means that you should be able to place an issue in all nine cells. Placing an issue in the low priority cell does not mean it is not important. It only means that, of the raised issues, it is of a lower priority. The critical issues are then further analysed as shown.

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Source MGSM

The final step in order to conclude this stage of the workshop is to perform due diligence. The approach is to cross-reference the priority actions captured in the previous table to the business objectives discussed at the start of the workshop, or the required competencies highlighted through the capabilities workshop. Using a simple light/dark analysis provides an easily understood summary. Dark shading represents a closer match between the objective and priority.

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Cross-references that are overly dark should be examined for completeness. Is the underlying issue fully described and understood? Is the priority correctly applied?

The priorities are then associated with a high-level timeline and the workshop is now ready to answer question 5: “How will we manage success?”

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On the basis of “a journey of a thousand steps starts with the first step,” the purpose of question 5 is to ensure there is agreement on the tactical changes or projects required to execute the strategy. The timeline provides the priority.

I close with the observation that managers frequently do not allow enough time for everyone to fully consider the points being discussed.

The commonly heard statement is, “Let’s just get something down on paper and we can refine it over email.” This approach may improve efficiency but it destroys the debate. It is recommended that each activity in the workshop is addressed twice, if not three times. If it is a two-day strategy session, then repeat Day 1 on Day 2 to give people overnight to really think about the issues. Then hold a further review a week or two later.

DRAW THE PICTURE

Two of the biggest difficulties in the work environment are a) being able to quickly understand and contextualise difficult concepts and then b) being able to convey these complex concepts to colleagues or managers. These skills are almost mandatory for uninterrupted career advancement.

There have been many studies on the way people assimilate knowledge and no one shoe fits all. Depending on who you are you will prefer written text, audio, or graphics. My view is that if you can’t  draw it, you don’t  fully understand it. A graphic forces you to summarise your thinking, to organize it tightly into a visual object. Both written and spoken words allow you to describe the same concept from a few different angles and to really elaborate on the idea. A picture is static. Everything you want to say has to be summarised in the graphic and you are limited by the size of the page.

To  get a picture right means that  you really have to understand the concept you are drawing and the interrelationships within it.

There is no right or wrong way to draw a picture. You can use blocks and lines, symbols or a mind map. Once you get the picture right, you will be able to talk to it for an extended period of time.

Sometime back I  was wrestling with  how strategy was related to  a business. I drew the following picture.

diagrame editia 2

I look at the picture today and while I still agree with it, there are parts of it I would change. But at the time I drew it, that was how I understood the world. It summarised a few hundred pages of text. Once I had the picture clear in my head I was confident that I could take any question on the topic and be able to answer it in detail and in the context of how it worked with the rest of the business.

There is no formal methodology for drawing a picture and you need to be patient with yourself. It may take a few days to get the picture to a point where you are comfortable with it.

The underlying assumption of this approach is that any message  you receive, be it a written text, a verbal instruction or lecture, or even a visual event will only contain a half dozen important points. It is these points that you must include in your picture. The trick is identifying the points in the first place. My recommendation is: don’t try too hard. Use an A4 size piece of paper and draw your understanding of what you have just read or heard or seen. Make the picture rich in detail. The more detail, the better. Once you believe you have all the concepts on the page and you have related them to each other, take a new A4 and fold it in half. Now draw the same picture in half the space. It will force you to summarise your first picture. If you can, repeat the exercise with a one-quarter  size piece of paper.

Then reverse the process. When you can draw the summarised picture from memory, then draw the next level of expanded picture and when you have that right, draw the very detailed picture again. When you can do that, then you will find you really have internalised the concepts and you will be able to talk about them fluently. Then, depending on who your audience is, you can produce the appropriately summarised picture on the white board without notes and speak to it with confidence.

The following is another example of a picture I have used for years to describe the business architecture.

9 Point Model (2)

This picture conveys a significant amount of detail without being overly busy. It  describes the  elements of the  business architecture and  the context in which they exist. I now know this picture so well I can speak to it for over an hour if needed. I have also prepared pictures for each of the nine points (shown as blocks). This allows me to drill down into additional detail if necessary.

I have mentored a number of entrepreneurs who have come to me with an idea and the passion to start a business. They will all have prepared detailed business plans, but  when asked to  describe their  idea they invariably battle. My recommendation is always: write up a brochure of one page only with a picture. The potential client must be able to look at the picture and understand your business. The text is supporting detail only. When you can do that, you understand what you are selling.

It is said, a picture speaks a thousand words. This is true and when you have your picture, you will have a thousand words at your fingertips.