Creating a Sense of Urgency

Creating a sense of urgency

Leading Change the Kotter Way

Creating a sense of urgency is Step One in the well-established Kotter model of leading change.  But what exactly does that mean?

After 30 years of research, Dr John Kotter believes that most major change initiatives fail mainly because organisations don’t commit to seeing the change through and don’t take a holistic approach throughout.   He has demonstrated that his 8 step process provides the most credible way of delivering and embedding large-scale organisational change.

His method elaborates and enlarges upon Lewin’s simple Freeze Phase, three stage approach – square, blob, star.  The underlying principles are the same. The model is based on research which showed that there are eight critical steps an organization or service needs to go through to ensure that change happens and sticks. This series of posts considers these steps in greater detail. we have already reissued;  Step Two: Forming a Powerful CoalitionStep Three Creating a Vision for Change and Step Four: Communicating Your Vision.

You have to work really hard

When I put the words ‘creating a sense of urgency’ into a search engine, I came up with all kinds of great ideas!  For example,  inspiring the team to work together towards a goal!  Lots of pleasant and positive stuff. Sounds good doesn’t it –  makes you feel good!  The problem is that, sadly, these positive ideas don’t work if you want to make fundamental change in an organisation.

Kotter reckons that for change to be successful, 75% of a company’s management needs to “buy into” the change. In other words, you have to really work hard on Step One, and spend significant time and energy creating a sense urgency, before moving onto the next steps. Unfortunately, there are no pleasant and easy answers.

It is hard to persuade groups of people to move a long way out of  their comfort Creating a sense of urgencyzone!  They will not move unless they understand that staying where they are is not an option! That means convincing them that staying where they are is going to be painful, or is simply no longer possible.

As my old lecturer in change management said somewhere back in the 90s – unless the pain of staying where you are is greater than the pain of moving, you usually stay put! He started the lecture with a picture of an amoeba and gave us a lecture on the fundamentals of stimulus! He was pretty focused on the importance of creating a sense of urgency. Without it, there would be no fundamental change!

So what can you do for your group?  It isn’t as simple as just showing them the sales figures, or other written evidence of need, and expecting them to respond.  You need to work with them. Go through the figures and then help them think through the consequences of doing nothing! Make it real. Not just consequences for the organisation, but for them. Help them to ask; “What will it mean for me in six months if nothing changes?”

Let them understand and absorb the threat. Then, work with them to think through options for the future and how they can move forward.

Share the pain and then show how you can share the gain.

Show them what they have to  gain from making a change. This may not be much but there will always be something! If the facts mean potential redundancies, work out how can you work together to mitigate the effects.

Are there new working patterns that you can adopt, for example, flexible or short-time working? Are there new markets to explore. What do they know about that might be helpful?

But, be careful. There is a difference between sharing the pain so that together you can make a change  and creating panic. There is a big difference between creating a sense of urgency and throwing things into chaos.

Do your homework before you start.

You are the leader and you need to remain in the leadership seat. Keep your nerve. It won’t be easy but then no one said being a leader was easy! Prepare well – you will face some challenging questions!

Don’t be naive! When they leave your meeting or presentation, the rumour mill will get to work. So, follow up with good information. Keep the communications flowing about your plans. Always be prepared to answer questions and be available. There will be some questions afterwards that they wished they’d asked at the meeting.

If you have experience of creating a sense or urgency, please share your war stories.  If you have a change to make – I hope things go very well for you! In the meantime if you need help please get in touch, I’ve been there before you.

Meanwhile…

Here is a Kotter Reading List for you;

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find her books on Amazon at this link

         

Leading Leading Change the Simple Way

Leading Leading Change the Simple Way

The three stages of change identified by psychologist Kurt Lewin are the basis of Leading Change The Simple Waymost change management approaches today. Lewin’s three stages are about leading change the simple way.

They are very easy to understand – unfreeze, transition, re-freeze!

There are simple techniques you can use at each stage to move people through and to complete your change successfully.

Leading Leading Change the Simple Way

Unfreeze: People like to feel safe and in control.  Their sense of identity is tied into their present environment; so, they like to stay in their comfort zone! Talking about the future is rarely enough to get them to change.

But there are simple techniques you can use to get them to “thaw” and to make them ready for change.

Transition For Lewin change is a journey.  This journey may not be that simple and the person may need to go through several stages of misunderstanding before they get to the other side.

It is very easy to get caught up in this middle stage. Transition takes time and needs leadership and support! Sometimes transition can also be a pleasant trap – it may feel better to travel hopefully than arrive – particularly for the team leading the change.

Techniques used by experienced change managers move people through transition to the new destination

Refreeze At the other end of the journey, the final goal is to ‘refreeze’, putting down roots again and establishing a new place of stability – embedding new processes and developing a new culture.

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at wendy@wisewolfcoaching.com

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find her books on Amazon at this link

         

Leading Leading Change the Simple Way and a Present from Wisewolf

The three stages of change identified by psychologist Kurt Lewin are the basis of most change management approaches today.

They are very easy to understand – unfreeze, transition, re-freeze!

There are simple techniques you can use at each stage to move people through and to complete your change successfully.

Unfreeze: People like to feel safe and in control.  Their sense of identity is tied into their present environment; so, they like to stay in their comfort zone! Talking about the future is rarely enough to get them to change.

But there are simple techniques you can use to get them to “thaw” and to make them ready for change.

Transition For Lewin change is a journey.  This journey may not be that simple and the person may need to go through several stages of misunderstanding before they get to the other side.

It is very easy to get caught up in this middle stage. Transition takes time and needs leadership and support! Sometimes transition can also be a pleasant trap – it may feel better to travel hopefully than arrive – particularly for the team leading the change.

Techniques used by experienced change managers move people through transition to the new destination

Refreeze At the other end of the journey, the final goal is to ‘refreeze’, putting down roots again and establishing a new place of stability – embedding new processes and developing a new culture

Would you like to find out more about this simple approach and the simple techniques you can use to make your change successful!

If you sign up to receive Wisewolf Talking direct by email, you will receive a free copy of my simple guide to leading change.

You will find the sign up form at the top of the column on the right.

Leadership in the matrix – how complex would you like your spiders’ web to be?

A closeup view of the Skylab space station tak...

Spiders’ webs were first spun in low earth orbit in 1973 aboard Skylab.

Two female spiders called Arabella and Anita were part of an experiment on the Skylab 3 mission. The aim of the experiment was to test whether the two spiders would spin webs in space; they did!

At the time the spiders were spinning their webs, we were beginning to talk about matrix organizations and how to make them successful.

The matrix approach grew up alongside the emergence of project management in the early high-tech industries including NASA.  As has been said many times before; the matrix approach is relatively easy to describe but can be challenging in the extreme to manage.

The matrix organization evolved when horizontal relationships, say between subject matter experts, became as important as traditional, vertical reporting lines. Traditional hierarchies were no longer the most efficient way to deliver business.  So the lattice, web-like matrix structure emerged.

This was usually with a functional “line manager” responsible for professional development, reward etc and, say, a project manager responsible for the services to be delivered for a fixed period or for a piece of work.

Now the matrix can apply across cultural and country boundaries as well as across functions.

But, when resources are short and all are focusing on achieving more with less, deciding priorities in the matrix can be difficult.

To succeed a matrix requires absolute clarity from its leaders about the outcomes required.   Clear direction – not the day-to-day detail!  This should be direction that allows competing priorities further down the organization to be resolved in the interests of the organization as a whole.

Senior leaders need to sponsor the matrix structure actively and  make sure that it continues to meet the needs of the organization.  They need to understand how cultural barriers can get in the way of the success and how people can work to overcome them.

Also they should ensure that  governance needs are met despite the matrix structure.  There has to be absolute clarity about who, at the end of the day, is accountable for what!  If there has to dual accountability, then the basis for this needs to be negotiated before other commitments are made.

Communication and informal networks will be critical and leaders can stimulate this by creating a climate of trust and openness.  A matrix will not thrive alongside a culture of blame!

To give their best, people have to understand why a matrix organization exists and what is in it for them.  They should have confidence in their leaders if they are to live with the in-built ambiguity; as well as responsibility and accountability often without authority.

Leaders will want to ensure there is real matrix management capability within the organization so that flexibility and responsiveness are enhanced and barriers are broken down.  Without this, a matrix structure can lead to delay, increased cost and lower job satisfaction.

Make sure you,  as the leader, and your people have the real capability to make your matrix structure work.

I’ve worked with organizations that made their matrix structure work for them and helped them stay at the front of their sector.  I’ve worked with others torn apart by internal strife and without clear leadership.  I would love to hear what your experience has been.

  • Types of Organizational Charts (brighthub.com)
  • Bertrand Duperrin: Social Collaboration? (sfh.naasat.in)
  • How to Master “Matrix Boss Madness” (psychologytoday.com)


Wendy Mason works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her atwendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

Paragons of virtue or the perfusion of good team leadership?

US Women's Soccer Team at 2003 World Cup

When choosing team members to complete tasks in your organization, what kind of people do you look for?

Yes I know Belbin says you should have;

  • One Co-ordinator or Shaper (not both) for leader
  • A Plant to stimulate ideas
  • A Monitor/evaluator to maintain honesty and clarity
  • • One or more Implementer, Team worker, Resource investigator or Completer/finisher to make things happen

So here we have a range of different personality types, let us make a second assumption – they are all technically competent. Now what else do you look for in your teams in real life?

Well, I like people I can count on to get things done; people who will do their share of the work and not find ways to off load it to others. Sound’s boring doesn’t it? But if I have an important project, reliable team members are invaluable.

I like to have people who will speak up and express their thoughts directly, but with respect for other team members.

And I would like them to have enough confidence to tell me, if we are getting something wrong as a team. Of course, I’d like them to have the discretion to tell me that bad news behind closed doors.

But I’d like us all to be able to listen, and to listen actively, as well as speaking up.

What I would give to find active engagement and people willing have ago at something new as well?

How about being able to recognise risk and knowing when to take it?

Of course I want the team to work cooperatively with each other and share the hard times as well as the good. If they can look beyond their own interests to those of the team, then we all win.

Well, have I found these paragons of virtue?

Oh yes, I have. I’ve seen them in action a number of times but not always working for me!

You see so much depends on the leader and the climate the leader creates!

There are many, many people who can do well in teams when they are well led.

They can flower and do things they never dreamed of!

All it takes is someone to create the climate in which they can thrive and someone who can share a vision in which they can believe.

So that means it’s down to you then really doesn’t it? It’s your team but can you turn them into winners?

I’d welcome the comments on what I’ve written above. Do you think I’m being too hard on leaders – have I set the bar too high? Are my expectations unrealistic? I’d love to have your views!

Related articles

Wendy Mason works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

Handle with care – bad news for the boss!

A Meeting with the Boss
Image by David Panevin via Flickr

I’ve written here before about giving bad news! Delivering bad news to anybody is difficult, but delivering bad news to your sponsor or line manager is one of the toughest and most stressful things you  will do in your working life!

It doesn’t matter whether or not it is your fault, it is still uncomfortable.

Regardless of  whether the failure is your fault, it can be embarrassing.

If you have an open and positive relationship with your boss so much the better, you can talk about handling bad news before you have any to deliver.  Be wise and see if you can reach an agreement in the early stages about what to do when things go wrong!

If you are unlucky enough to have one of those bosses who always reacts badly when receiving bad news,  it will need careful handling,

So when something has gone wrong – what can you do?

  1. First, don’t put off delivering bad news until the things get worse. Most problems left unresolved get worse over time, so waiting to tell the boss doesn’t help the situation.
  2. Gather as many facts as possible! You will probably be asked several questions about how it happened. You should be able to give a convincing, honest and well-informed answer!
  3. If possible you should also have a convincing plan to put things right.
  4. If it means a delay to delivering your process, programme or project, be clear about what that means in terms of time, resources and ultimate delivery.
  5. If there are increased risks, show how you plan to mitigate them.
  6. Deliver the message clearly and directly. If you have made a mistake or forgotten something, it really is better to confess and apologise.
  7. Don’t stimulate a blame culture. Try not to deliver bad news in a way that embarrasses the boss and reflects directly on them.  Don’t start playing the whose to blame “tit-for-tat” game, if you can avoid it.
  8. If some one more junior in your team made a mistake then stand by them – it’s your team! But don’t defend the indefensible!
  9. Try to deliver bad news in private if possible. If you have to report the problem to a board then try to have word with your boss and/or the chair beforehand and agree how it will be handled.
  10. If you can, follow bad news up with good news and go on to talk about success.

Remember that we have all made mistakes including your boss.    But make sure you learn from this experience! If you got something wrong and you are trying to do a good job, make sure  you have all the training you need and that you have sufficient resources.   If you don’t, then speak up and show that you intend to do all you can to make sure you have no further bad news to deliver!

Goldfinger, the Elephant and making partnerships work!

Source:http://www.flickr.com/photos/laszlo-pho...
Image via Wikipedia

The benefits of partnership have long been extolled for public, private, voluntary and community organisations!  And the benefits of true partnership are invaluable in managing change across an organisation. But the word ‘partnership’ is probably one of the most abused in the modern business lexicon.

First a little background on my interest in partnership!

Many moons ago when I was a Civil Servant, one of my more interesting roles was to Chair the Elephant and Castle Employers’ Group in South London.

The Department of Health has a long standing relationship with the Elephant and Castle.  Metro Central Heights, a striking multi-story complex, was once Alexander Fleming House and headquarters of the Department.  The building was notorious!  Designed by modernist architect Ernő Goldfinger, it won him a Civic Trust Award in 1964 but it may also have influenced Ian Fleming’s choice of names for his villain! The Department continues to have staff at the Elephant but now in rather more comfortable accommodation.

Anyway, for my sins, I chaired the group on behalf of the Department and we were successful in a number of areas.  For example, we persuaded the London Borough of Southwark to improve street lighting and they refurbished the miserable under-passes!  Our fame spread and somewhere in the archives of the Open University is a talking heads video of me extolling the virtues of community partnership.  We had strong partnerships with the local authority, police, transport providers etc.

In chairing the group, I drew on my experience of matrix management in managing IT projects.  Projects, and organisational change programmes in particular, have always drawn heavily for their success on the ability of project and programme managers to develop and manage partnerships across organisations.

So I believe it is worth looking more closely at what partnership really means!

I believe a partnership is a joint working arrangement where the partners

  • Work otherwise more or less independently
  • Agree to co-operate to achieve common goals or outcomes
  • Plan and implement a jointly agreed project or programme, often with joint staff or resources
  • Share relevant information and pool risks and rewards.

Whether the partners choose to engage usually depends on answers to the following questions?

  • What will the partnership deliver that we could not deliver on our own?
  • Is it clear what our role in the partnership will be?
  • Do we know how long the partnership is going to last?
  • Are the aims and objectives of the partnership clear?
  • Are we clear what we are expected to contribute?

If you are going to engage in partnership there are some pitfalls to avoid.

Competition

Competition between different parts of an organisation can be positive but in cross-organisation programmes it can be menace.  It takes work and leadership at the start of a partnership to build the partners into a team and develop a sense of common purpose.  This is where time needs to be spent, not on later point scoring because you did not make the initial investment!

The Wrong People

A partnership needs people with the power and authority to get the job done.   They may not need to be senior but they do need real delegated authority.  If every decision needs to be referred to the top of one partner’s long management chain before it can be made, you have the wrong person or it isn’t a partnership!  It also important that partners cannot pull rank on each other!  Partners need to be equal, or to agree to act in an equal way for the purposes of the partnership, and you might need to record this in formal terms of reference!

Mission creep

If a partnership works well, the partners will usually enjoy working together!  This means they will look for other things to do.  This can get in the way of delivering the overall change.  This is one reason why the task or outcome needs to be very clearly defined at the beginning.

Culture clash

Even within one organisation different cultures can emerge in different divisions.  This can make working together difficult.  Again this is where leadership and time taken at the start to build a team and develop a sense of common purpose pays dividends.  Aim to get people to talk explicitly about differences and then find the common ground and the shared vision.

The Eternal Partnership

As the name says – this goes on forever!  Long after its usefulness wears out, no one wants to call a halt.  So the relationship slowly withers on the vine with useless meetings, frustration and wasted resources.  Someone needs to call a halt, agree an exit strategy and close it down.  If you want to maintain your credibility as a programme manager, be the one who recognises when the job is done.  Arrange a closing down ceremony and write the thank you letters to the participants; most will be grateful and the others need to be helped to move on.

It takes time to develop the trust between partners that is required to make partnerships work well.  But my word good partnership working can be powerful!

I would love to hear your experiences of partnerships good and bad!  Are there other lessons we can share?

As for me!  Well I’m heading back to London SE1 soon to see that old Elephant – I remember it well and with great fondness!

Wendy Mason is a performance, programme, contract management and change specialist. She works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

 

Managing Change! Is it painful? You bet it is!

How urgent is your amoeba?

Most of us who work in the field of change management have signed up to the Kotter model of leading change.  And Step One in the model is to create a sense of urgency.  But what exactly does that mean?

When I put the words ‘creating a sense of urgency’ into a search engine I came up with all kinds of good things!  For example,  inspiring the team to work together towards a goal!  Lots of pleasant and positive stuff.  Sounds good doesn’t it –  makes you feel good!  The problem is,  it doesn’t work if you want to make a fundamental change in an organisation.

Kotter reckons that for change to be successful, 75% of a company’s management needs to “buy into” the change. In other words, you have to really work hard on Step One, and spend significant time and energy building urgency, before moving onto the next steps.  And there are no pleasant and easy answers.

It is hard to persuade groups of people to move a long way out of  their comfort zone!  They will not move unless they understand that staying where they are is not an option! That means convincing them that staying where they are is going to be painful or is simply no longer possible.

As my old lecturer in change management said somewhere back in the 90s – unless the pain of staying where you are is greater than the pain of moving, you usually stay put! He started the lecture with a picture of an amoeba and gave us a lecture on the fundamentals of stimulus!

So what can you do for your group?  It isn’t simply a question of showing them the sales figures and expecting them to respond.  You need to work with them through the figures and then help them think through the consequences!  Not just consequences for the organisation, but for them.  What will it mean for me in six months if the sales figures do not turn up?

Let them understand and absorb the threat of of failing markets.  Or more optimistically, new technology and new competitors.

Then work with them to think through options for the future and how they can move forward.

Share the pain and then how you can share the gain.

Show them what they have to  gain from making a change.  This may not be much but there will always be something!  If the facts mean potential redundancies, work out how can you work together to mitigate the effects.

Are there new working patterns that you can adopt, for example flexible or short-time working?  Are there new markets that they know of that you can open up?

But you need to be careful.  There is a difference between sharing the pain so that together you can make a change  and creating panic.

Do your homework before you start.   You need to prepare well – you will face some challenging questions!

You are the leader and you need to remain in the leadership seat.  Keep your nerve.

It aint easy but then no one said being a leader was easy!

You must follow up with good information about your plans  after the initial meeting.

Don’t be naive when they will leave your meeting or presentation, the rumour mill will get to work.

Make sure you leave sufficient time in your diary afterward the initial event to deal with the consequences!  And the questions they wish they had asked but did not ask at the meeting.

If you have experience of creating a sense or urgency, please share your war stories.  If you have a change to make – I hope things go very well for you!

If you have any questions or comments, I would be very happy to receive them.

Wendy Mason is a performance, programme, contract management and change specialist. She works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy –  she can help you – email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

MANAGING CHANGE – COMMUNICATIONS – MAKING YOUR PLAN

A recent post talked about building and maintaining active support for your initiative among those who can make a real difference to your outcomes! This is imperative for change programmes and projects.

Making sure that your colleagues and key stakeholders are aware of the activities you are undertaking, is vital to ensure your success. It helps to maximise opportunities for synergies,  allows people to learn from each other and wins you support.

When you have analysed the people and groups around you, you will be ready to develop your communications plan.

A communications plan is a written document that describes

  • what you want to accomplish with your communications (your objectives),
  • to whom your communications will be addressed (your audiences)
  • the ways in which those objectives can be accomplished (your key messages, strategy and tactics)
  • when you will accomplish your objectives (your activity schedule),
  • how you will measure the results (your evaluation)

Keep it simple. Your communications plan doesn’t need to be pages long – just clearly presented and easy to understand.

Make it focussed. Don’t try to do everything, be realistic about what’s achievable.

Every communications plan will be different but most should include the following key information.

Objectives

Be clear from the outset about what you are trying to achieve – it is the vital first step in creating your plan.

When considering your communications objectives, ensure that they complement the overall objectives of your initiative.

Make sure your objectives are SMART

Are they:

  • Specific?
  • Measurable?
  • Achievable?
  • Realistic?
  • Timely?

Target Audience

This is where the work you have done already to identify your stakeholders comes into play. The success of any communications activity depends on knowing your audience.

Once you have identified your target find out as much as possible about them.  This will help you to ensure you are using the most effective routes to communicate with them.

Once you’ve got an initial list, try to identify some overall priorities.  This will help you ensure that the majority of your time, energy and resources are concentrated on the most important audiences.

Key Messages

Once you have identified your target audience, think about what messages you are trying to communicate.

Do you know the strengths and weaknesses of your overall plans? You can download a template for a SWOT analysis at this link. See how you can turn your weaknesses and threats into strengths and opportunities even before you begin your communications plan.

Developing key messages will help you to be clear about what it is you want your target audience to ‘hear’ or understand as a result of your communications activity. The messages may well be different for each of your target audience groups, although there will be many that are common for all.

Avoid statements that are too complex. Cutting the waffle and aiming to be as succinct as possible is the best way to create messages that work. A good way to try your messages out is to see if they pass the ‘elevator test’. Imagine you are in a lift between floors and only have a minute to explain your message to a companion beside you. Would they understand what you are trying to say?

Strategy

Now you are ready to consider the overall strategic approach that you are going to take to achieve your communications objectives. Your strategy should be about what you are going to do to achieve your objectives, rather than how you are going to do it.

The strategy provides a unifying ‘big picture’ into which all of your individual communications activities fit. For, example, are you going to actively engage with your key stakeholders at regular intervals? Perhaps you are going to promote the achievements through your company websites or will you publish a regular newsletter!

Set out the principles of how you intend to communicate!

Tactics

The tactics are the specific communications activities, tools and techniques that will make each part of your strategy a reality. Some of the most popular include:

  • Newsletters
  • Press releases
  • Information packs
  • Seminars
  • Leaflets, stickers and posters
  • Websites and social networking/blogs
  • Videos/DVDs
  • Advertising
  • One-to-one briefings
  • Direct mail/email
  • Exhibitions

The communications activities you choose should fit into your overall strategy and be driven by your objectives, target audiences and key messages.

Budgeting and other resources

How much money do you have available in the budget? How much time and other resources do you have available?  The answers will dictate the size and scale of your communications activity.

If you find yourself having to cope on a shoestring, remember that it is possible to do effective work with a small budget as long as you are realistic and well focussed.

Keep in mind your key stakeholders.

Activity schedule

Once you have decided on your tactics you will be in position to put together a simple activity schedule. This should outline how you plan to roll out each set of activities over a period of time.

Make sure you think carefully about other key dates or events that may impact on your timing and the milestones in your overall activity. At this stage you should also consider specific roles and responsibilities. It is useful to circulate your communications activity schedule to your colleagues so they can see what is coming up and identify potential synergies or conflicts at an early stage.

Evaluation

It is crucial that your activity plan outlines the criteria that you will use to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of your communications activities.

How will you know if you are making an impact? Build into your plan a method for measuring results. Your evaluation might take the form of a monthly report on work in progress – a formalized writtens report or a presentation to the governance board, the programme team or another management meeting.

Remember – communicate clearly and simply – be honest!

Start early and make sure people know where and how to get access to good information.

But one warning, if you have promised any particular communication, for example, a monthly newsletter, make sure it is actually produced on time and has good quality of information!  Nothing is more frustrating than something that doesn’t arrive or looks good but doesn’t actually tell you anything about an initiative that impacts directly on you!

If you are just setting out on a change, and have not done this before, I hope this helps.

If you have any questions or if you have experience and tips to offer, I would love to hear from you.

Wendy Mason is a performance, programme, contract management and change specialist. She works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy –  she can help you – email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

King, Queen or Pawn – the Joys of Office Politics – Part 2 – Winning Support

A very good friend of mine had a lot of experience of both supporting and reviewing high profile government programmes. We worked together on a large complex programme that was beset with issues of office politics and complex (and often competing) stakeholder needs.  He read my post on office politics and here is his response – he is happy for me to share it with you.  It includes some very important advice for interim managers and consultants in particular. Thank you Howard!

“Inevitably large programmes have a number of stakeholders. The first thing to realise is that not all those stakeholders regard the programme as having the same priority-rating on their own “To Do” lists. A simple example is a major Change Programme which one stakeholder sees it as a major opportunity and another as a major threat.

The next thing to realise is that simply following process, e.g. PRINCE2 and/or MSP will not guarantee full control. I reviewed one big programme (via OGC) where for two years it was being reported as well on-time for delivery, then suddenly, as if out to the blue, it was announced 6 months behind schedule. The reason? While the monthly programme update reports from the front-line all arrived on time, they did not tell the whole truth, as those reporting only wanted to give the good news, not the bad. Pro-active reporting similar to audit would have prevented that.

The third major action is to be actively supportive, while not trying to grab the credit and the glory. When it comes to making presentations to senior management, e.g. the Permanent Secretary, Government Minister, make sure you always take a purely supportive role. Let the person who engaged you take the credit for doing so, not the blame for having to do so. Just remember that cartoon of the two cows standing in a field. The cow on the left says “Moo”. The cow on the right shouts “You b*****d, I was going to say that!”

Getting people on-side and supportive is what brings success – and lasting friendships”

Howard and I did form a very strong friendship after we had been through our baptism of fire and I am very grateful to him for contributing to this post.