One of the greatest risks to strategic change is that executive attention moves on after the program is chartered. It is not enough for sponsors to develop strategy and then turn the program over to the implementers. However, when the focus is on tactical delivery, it is easy for leadership to move on to the next set of problems before sustained value is realized. To keep sponsors engaged, program leaders need simple, yet powerful ways to communicate the importance of executive engagement throughout the journey.
Every executive who has lived through even a moderately complex business capability implementation program is familiar with the challenges to successful delivery. Many, if not most, of them have scars to show for it. However, despite overwhelming evidence and past defeats, organizations and executives regularly move their programs toward failure. The is no secret formula for success, nor is there a “silver bullet” that if only applied would solve all key program challenges. However, although resolution of fundamental issues may be very difficult, the initial steps are straight forward. They don’t require proprietary methodologies or tools, and they amount to identifying key risks, creating mitigation plans and following through on the execution. Nothing will eliminate risks. The key for executives who are serious about success is to develop excellence in the fundamentals of program leadership, including honestly and meaningfully addressing the obstacles before them.
Although each program is unique, many transformation efforts share fundamental challenges. These are often the result of leadership and management issues rather than technical skill deficits. One of the insights from the study of program failure is that the most influential factors are centered on aligning executive and user stakeholders around objectives, support, and adoption rather than technical implementation skills.