13 years, 5 months ago

Operational Capability Risk: Executive Rotation

As announced last year, I will  be presenting at the OMG Business Ecology Initiative’s inaugural “Optimization for Innovation” Conference on 3/22/11 on how an executive can quickly and efficiently analyze operations of a business unit.  As our team started researching for this presentation, we came up with a few statistics (yes, it’s a tease) that even we didn’t expect.  Loss of executive sponsorship is almost always in the top 5 reasons for project failure.  What surprised our team was the number of large organizations that actually have organizational efforts in place to make sure that executive rotations happen.    While this makes sense from a leadership development point of view, it increases the Operational Capability Risk.

So the focus of the presentation shifted away from the executive point of view and toward that of an Operation or Change Programme leader.  The majority of large scale organizational transformation efforts take time.  Not just capital, resources, but time.  Behavior cannot change overnight – it has to evolve little by little over time.  It is just like the sport of curling, but without the stone thrower.  The stone glides over the ice, and the most effective change agents simply sweep the ice around the stone with rather crude implements to guide that stone to where they want it to go.  Forcing the stone any other way can be counterproductive, and just downright dangerous – it weighs a lot and there’s very little friction to stop it from running over one’s foot.

Sweeping takes time.  Planned volatility in leadership throws a wrench into that need for time.  If you are a change programme leader, planned leadership volatility means that you not only have to continuously communicate about your effort, you have to “sell” more than one executive to be that effort’s sponsor.  And to nobody’s surprise, it is my belief that Capability Driven Approach is the optimal way to develop and deliver that sales pitch.  Belief isn’t enough in many books, though – so confirmation of many case studies and independent verification from Forrester Research helps as well.