Strategy - "I know how"
In a previous blog I wrote about the need for a shared vision as an essential part of any transformational initiative. But what about the strategy to achieve that vision? The transformational initiative strategy is the plan, approaches and methods to achieve the vision. If the vision is the "what?" the strategy is the "how?" Like the vision, the strategy needs to be embraced by all leaders of a transformational initiative, not just the initiative leader. However, the strategy has an important additional constituent - all the people who are actually going to do the work.
While there are higher-level strategic discussions regarding the strategy to be had, let me provide two concrete examples of lack of alignment on transformational initiative strategy - the "how?" - planning and change management. Both these areas can significantly impact the actual day to day work of initiative execution.
How often do you see different or competing plans, approaches or methods to execute a transformational initiative? I have seen the Microsoft Project plan, the Microsoft Excel plan and the Agile plan all for the same initiative. Typically each is designed to meet some stakeholders needs. Ultimately you end up with what I call "Wagile" (Waterfall/Agile) which is at best confusing to the people actually doing the work and and fails to answer the "how?" question in any meaningful fashion.
Change management is another classic strategy alignment pitfall area. I have seen Kotter's Leading Change 8-step process, the Kubler-Ross Change Curve and Hiatt's ADKAR change management approaches all vying for "change management methodology supremacy" or each used in different areas on the same initiative. Or worse, touted as the "change management methodology" but not used at all - except for executive presentations. In many cases, these change management approaches fail because there is limited agreement on the "how?" and initiatives end up dancing around the real change management problems, lacking clarity on the "how?" afraid to address the real problem and afraid to have the hard conversations with executives about their lack of alignment with the engagement strategy or each other.
Success depends on the strategy. This means it needs to be aligned with corporate or function strategy, understood and agreed with by all initiative leaders and team members, with the belief that it is comprehensive, and if well executed it will achieve the vision. This is difficult to achieve but the detailed conversations surrounding the "how?" are worth it. So let's start asking about and aligning on the "how?"
What is alignment? How do we align around an initiative? How do we know we are aligned? These are really hard questions. Questions we are answering at AlignedAround. I would welcome your thoughts.
Kotter, J. P. (2012). Leading Change. Reed Business Education.
Kubler-Ross, E. (2014). On Death And Dying (1st ed.). Scribner.
Hiatt, J. M. (2006). ADKAR: A Model for Change in Business, Government and our Community (1st ed.). Prosci Learning Center Publications.