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Saturday, March 4, 2017

Rebels and Transformation

As an independent consultant the biggest challenge I face is inability to see the big picture and being patient towards building a logical workflow that involves people, process and technology.
Due to the lack of patience clients often resort to "distress sourcing": simply defined as "sourcing of all my distresses to a vendor" or finding a technology that will take over the communication issues that are part of your people problem.
I came across the following paragraph while reading a book on spirituality:
"The people who cannot rebel ask for guidance, want to be followers. Their psychology is that to be a follower relieves them of all responsibility: the guide, the master, the leader, the messiah become responsible for everything. All that is needed of the follower is just to have faith, and just to have faith is another name of spiritual slavery" - The Rebel
I believe the above paragraph aptly summarises the issue. The following are some interpretations I made out of above excerpt.
  • Organization which love buzzwords in the boardroom but have not assessed the cultural fabric of their organization look for guidance from consulting firms/vendors. Which in itself is a fast way of learning; provided that the people have ability and motivation to learn. 
  • Some of the organisations I have worked with focus on hiring resources with exact skill set rather than evaluating learnability. This then poses a threat for their ability to cope with changes.
  • Before starting the journey of being a rebel/transformation/change it is very critical that an organization knows clearly the "for what?". That is, for what are they taking a particular journey. 
  • I usually find that the management to be very clear about their goals for starting a particular journey. The real challenge is downward communication to the people in the trenches and ability of people at each level to translate the bigger goal in their own goals (a.k.a. metrics/KPIs/KRAs)
If you agree with the above two then I am sure you agree with a change/transformation journey to have the following four actors and not just the vendor with a contract:
  • The Guide: The vendor or the consulting help who is hired to avoid the usual pitfalls and help morph the change as a transformation and not a trial.
  • The Master: The internal owner trusted by the management for her/his judgement and who in turn banks on the learnability of the people in the organization and steers the transformation.
  • The Leader: I believe that it is not just one person who is the leader but the complete management team. The role of the leaders is to make sure that they prepare their own divisions and teams to digest the change.
         This not only gives their own divisions and teams the confidence to accept the change but also gives the master ability to have small failures and course correct open heatedly the change that will work for the people in the organization. This allows for a way to adapt the change that fits right into the current processes and works for the people. This also avoids an implementation of the blueprint as suggested by the vendor.
  • The Messiah: Most people think that an evangelist plays this role or even worse some people outsource this responsibility, thinking that it can be quantified in person-hours.
       I believe that its not merely the responsibility of certain individuals to become the messiah. It is the responsibility of everyone in the organization to become the messiah of the change and thus welcome the transformation. When everyone in the organization welcomes a change it makes every other colleagues life easier and thus the organization assimilates the change much faster.
If you expect to embark on a journey of transformation and expect the vendor make it happen by themselves then you are forcing your people becoming a slave of the change.