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Horizontal CM Archives - Garrett's Change Management Blog

Wonderfully Disillusioned-Great, but…

Things have changed in the 16 years I have been consulting.

But they haven’t.

The version of consulting I practice has gone from the title of OD (Organizational Development) to Change Management to the latest fad name “Change Leadership” (and in between I even saw “Management of Change”). It has always been an effort to educate, train and develop people in order to move organizations in some direction.

My own role has never seemed necessary to me.

But it is.

(And judging by the name changes, likely to cloak the fact that organizations are not so good at that educate, train and develop thing, will continue).

So to get some writing going here (sorry for the gaps lately readers, 970 posts must have dried me up a bit) let’s do a list of some wonderful that has come our way recently:

  • Change Entities
  • Methodology
  • Contingent Workers
  • Technology

Change Entities

This is my passion- the setting up and structuring of change groups within organizations.

They are wonderful because they can pull outside resources who, when set up correctly, mentor the organizations employees and serve as hand holders as process and interaction is created and learned. It is wonderful in many ways. The use of talent in the right place at the right time is my favorite wonderful.


When those groups are not guided and led by an external high level consultant (and no the external turned internal usually does not count) they comically end up looking worse than the organization itself when it comes to hierarchy, control and interaction. The participants mean well but, because they are human and will be measured, operate like those they are trying to help. That makes me disillusioned.


There are hundreds of approaches out there. And mine Smile:


Most are distinguished by the symbols they use.

Many, and probably all in some way, are helpful to make sense of process, to illustrate things that happen when people and organizations try to change and to put structure around growth and development.

Giving people, practitioners and leaders frameworks and steps to follow is wonderful. Languaging is wonderful. A common way of interacting and seeing things is fantastic.


All, every single one- likely including my own, have fundamental weaknesses (some outright mistakes) that actually hinder change.

The most dangerous of those weaknesses is the insistence on some form of “as-is/to-be”. Approaching change from the present causes a multitude of problems and automatically creates roadblocks that are unnecessary. To watch practitioners strictly follow some methodology loaded with steps always comparing the future with the present is, well, hard to watch. And disillusionary.

Contingent Workers

If you want something done now and have the budget (which can be bigger than it used to with 10 years of frozen wages) you can find an expert to do it for you or help. And you do not have to keep them past that particular project. There must be thousands of firms to help you too (judging by the calls I get- still 13 firms for the same role is the current record, got one now that is up to 10 though…funny thing is I am already AT that client). This flexibility is wonderful (for clients and in some small ways for the “contingents”).


Knowledge now arrives, stays a while and then flies out the door. Those workers have little incentive to pass on their knowledge. They are hired to get something done, usually in distinct steps ridiculously defined by the organization, so that sharing is next to impossible.

The more this pattern continues (and it is bigger, wider and more invasive) the less those workers will be experienced, well honed practitioners and the more they will be cookie-cutter-list-reducers. This is not only disillusionary; it is sad. As much as consultants get picked on for assisting rather than doing we provide a valuable service (building the organizations capabilities through its people). I can see, in every organization I work with, the erosion of that positive effect. When my eyes see that I am disillusioned in multiple ways.


Is, let’s face it amazing!

The list is long of things we do at work now that we didn’t do before: text, email, watch training videos, trade screens easily when presenting, call across the globe like we are yelling across the street to borrow sugar.

We can collaborate, learn and interact now, compared to just the recent past, in fantastic magical exchanges. We can park information so that others can add, share, suggest. We can make beautiful templates that are consistent, call out the right message and reach as many people as we need to- instantly. Just wonderful this is!


Technology invites an endless list of things to “check off”, ridiculous stream of measurement and justification that is resource, time and budget wasting. I shudder, in a disillusioned way, watching this happen. And I don’t have to turn my head too far to the side to see it- EVERYWHERE. You do know all of your problems can be solved with technology right? (Let’s hope so for the money you just dished out…).


This change, get-better-within-organizations thing has improved. That is wonderful. There is something to be said (that is, yes, wonderful) about Change Entities, Methodology, Contingent Worker and Technology. What can be said (in both directions) has me Wonderfully Disillusioned.

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Change Reach


The first question I always get from clients is, “How will you do this?”.

The full answer is, of course, long (and depends…).

The bullet point list is, of course, short(er).

But first, it fascinates me how many people and companies out there want to make their own version of this (and then market it until we are all sick to our stomachs). As they say, “it’s not rocket science”. The expertise,experience, patience and empathy needed to get solutions from the answer and the list may just be some version of CM rocket science though.

Here is one example of a version of steps to address change. In this instance it is called a “Change Network Map”. (Maybe this speaks to experience, but, I do a version of this in my head after a series of questions on the first day of every engagement).

The bullet point list:

  • How wide will this change (and process and effort) stretch?
  • Who gets touched the most (hardest?)?
  • Who is officially responsible in those areas?
  • Who is really responsible in those areas?
  • What path might the change process take throughout the organization?


This is one time where I work from here to then instead of end state back.

I ask questions to keep building the connections this change might take and need. Some sort of grouping eases the process- by function, by working group, by expertise, etc. I think of this as pouring water and seeing how far it spreads before it dries up. The approach can also be more tactical by just using an org. chart and working down and out within those boundaries (silos?).


Within that now big spread of influence, connection and effect which spots gets touched?


Later this will lead to expectations, ownership, communication, etc. For now it is to simply imagine how the change process might, well, change things. The tactical extension of this piece is to look at the people connected to the “things”.

Who, specifically, will be touched. In what way? And, yes, will it hurt?


Who is expected to, will offer to, will need to, be responsible for parts of the change?

At this point I always, quickly estimate (through lots of questions again) how much responsibility already exists for OTHER things, like, you know actually running the business. If there is “resistance” this is where it will happen. Don’t ask me to do more when I only have two hands…

Long before this process I asked this question, “Is the owner going to own?”. If the answer was no I will have a lot of work to do.

Hidden Influence

This is the part I love.

The client/stakeholders says things are “this” way. My expertise (probably the core competency for change practitioners) is to figure out how things REALLY work.

How close is reality to the org. chart?

If there is separation (stop snickering), where is that and which person or people have influence (or power or control)?

Flow and Resistance

Back to the water analogy.

When this change rolls out as a process like water how will it flow?

There will be paths of least resistance (not necessarily where we want it to flow- sometimes you have to create dams to get to sustainable solutions); there will be obstacles that slow and reorient the flow; there will be places where it backs up and overflows unexpectedly; there will be (honest) places where it tumbles forward like a spectacular waterfall.

A practiced practitioner can get pretty close to seeing the flow (and to be really corny actually “feeling” how this will flow).

Early on figure out Change Reach. Use Width, Touch, Responsibility, Hidden Influence and Flow/Resistance.

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Wonderfully Disillusioned- Methodology

This week I had two occasions to give back a little to my career peer community. The first was on a panel for those finishing a Masters program in OD, the second for those entering- both at my alma mater the University of San Francisco (USF).

The theoretical discussion (or “lecture” as it often is with academics- do they not know about listening?  enter a little disillusionment) balanced against the very practical questions from those getting ready to practice and those wanting to learn how, has me disillusioned. In a wonderful way of course, it is Wednesday.

The students soon to be and soon to be released back into the world, asked questions that required application. As I listened to the academic answers, formulated my own and thought back on my version of this program, I realized what an experienced practitioner can bring to a conversation (let alone a thorny OD problem).

The academic answers in a disillusionary way (not to me, to the students- I could see it in their eyes) provided nothing in the way of solutions. In fact when multiple “methodologies” were part of answers it felt a little like a try-this approach (nothing wonderful about that).

I had an epiphany.

Which of course was wonderful as all epiphanies are.

It is the APPLICATION of methodology/theory that is important. As I told one of the students privately afterwards (you’re welcome USF for reeling them back in after you scared ’em off a little), this is about what you learn, all of it, some of it and pieces of it, so that when you apply you know why. And, I said, “you may very well do things completely different than you learn here”. Having a basis in theory and an understanding of history means you can trust your intuition.

Two sessions of interaction at the academic level has me disillusioned at the outdated approach and the pedantic explanations. Learning often has a teacher and a student. I walked away from those two sessions with a new appreciation of OD and change at the individual level.

There is a hunger. A hunger for application, result and effect. For that I am Wonderfully Disillusioned.

Change Management’s True Start Point

ChangeStartChange starts at the point where the person with the idea tells someone else.

Or, to be more precise, it begins with the next thing that happens. If you are looking for an EXACT starting point it is when a third person gets the original idea explanation.

One person’s idea becomes a dialogue that creates an initial action (almost always involving a third person) and you have started change.

This is not something to shrug off.

Because it is at that second interaction/third person included that Change Management also begins. I posted about this, “Front Loading Change Management” and created the term “Front Loading” because every engagement I had participated in at the time started their change management process waaaay too late. Front loading seemed to stick as a term to reduce disparity of perspective (and make my explanations to senior leadership easier).

Since then the disparity has become even more apparent with clients as companies market a linear, template oriented approach to change. That tends to create a “Big Bang”  that is full of fancy communication and a “start date”.

Front Loaded Change


If you are front loading change you are looking to:

  • Define the make sense nature of the change from multiple stakeholder viewpoints.
  • You are testing the waters for ideas within the change process for specific things, people and groups.
  • You are assessing the environment (which is very different from assessing “readiness”).
  • You are looking for first adopters (which is very different from scouting for “resistance”).
  • You are engaging and developing an inclusion process that is genuine.
  • You are looking for and finding expertise (and lack of needed end state expertise).
  • You are increasing the visibility of change management without asking for or mandating anything (that can, and likely will to some extent, come later).

In general you are working to gather information that makes a start date (the celebratory kind not the mandate for-speed kind) seem like just one of the days in the overall process. “We started a long time ago” is what you should be hearing. The opposite of this is “Change as an Event”.

The actions you take, the connections you make and the level of communication (formal and informal) you have during this front loading should be part of the full change management plan.

If I were to come in and have a conversation about your change with you (keep in mind unless you had the idea talking to me means you are starting the process or are well into it- 99% of the time it is the second option) I would ask a lot of questions. The answers to those questions are all the things you would get with a front loaded process. Good answers would show you truly understand this change from the eyes of the stakeholders, the mind of the owner and the needs of the business.

An idea is heard by a second person. A third person is included in some way. Change has started. Everything you do before firm dates are set and the project process explodes with a Big Bang is the Front Load Phase of Change Management.

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Wonderfully Disillusioned- The Future (and the Present)


Tomorrow is Thursday.

Today is Wednesday.

There, see how easy that was?

The future back to the present.

When asked what my “approach” is (in interviews, at client meetings, by peers and stakeholders) I always say, “End State back”. Which  confuses. And always brings me back to Repetitive Disillusionment (yes redundant).

Why is it so hard to take a breath and imagine a future?

Is it the consciousness of breath or the imagining part that is difficult?

So in order to induce a little wonderful into their day I say something like:

“None of the many motivations to take action are triggered unless the action (change being multiple actions) makes sense. A picture is worth a thousand words, even if conjured up inside someone’s head. Visualizing, describing and, possibly, defining an end state, the future, is the most important part of change management. And the FIRST part.

Working on the End State Description starts the change process. It requires empathy, looking at the roles needed in that future, thinking of the talent needed at that spot, possibly going through some emotions just imagining what that end state could be like. If that process is long enough a very important thing happens. All involved begin to think of change in terms of the future and a destination.

With that the the present can be looked at first with a cursory glance and then with a fine toothed comb. The combing should be for the things existing that work and/or belong in that future. The parts and pieces that do not line up are the things that will have to be addressed soon, in the present, to reinforce “make sense”.

When the future and the present can align, with a look ahead perspective, then the journey can start and change can happen.”

The explanation seems to morph and adapt depending on who I talk to, but, you get the point.

Wait, you DO get the point don’t you?

I am convinced that a part of any change “failure” is a present perspective.

The wonderful comes with the reactions I get from my different explanations. First strange looks, then a lean in to my explanation, followed by specific questions that show they have lived the opposite. My wonderful comes when they give me the inevitable, “if only”, story. As in “if only” you had been here to talk us through the last change.

To be clear I think it is fantastic to LIVE in the present, to notice things, to be in the moment. When it comes to change that is often impossible without being clear about the destination and having a sense of the journey ahead.

The difficulty everyone seems to have seeing and constructing a future in order to facilitate change disillusions me. The fact that an explanation and lots of future perspective repetition makes for fast learning of an End State Back approach is wonderful. Together the process makes me Wonderfully Disillusioned.

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My 900th Blog Post

I have spent days thinking about what this post should say and shudder to think of the writers block I will get at 1000…

There are other bloggers of change that get deep into supporting evidence and references to previous work (Gail Severini at Symphini hosting The Change Whisperer blog is a great example along with Jennifer Frahm at Conversations of Change). I am guilty of opinion I guess.

My forte is probably my prolificacy.

The first rain is inspiring me to do  a Spring cleaning (in the middle of a mixed metaphor) of my previous 899 posts. I am hoping there are gems of information and insight in there. The treasure should be easier to find.

Plus I am totally ready for some CHANGE!

I will remember writing every one of those posts (which is weird because I sometimes mix up my kids names- our brains are strangely organized for things). Hindsight always has insight. Insight tends to be the foundation of prolific writing. If you like what you have seen so far and you are willing to look for your own gems, let me know. We all need a little extra push once in a while.

At my 900th blog  post, 14 years of consulting, having set foot in 70+ companies, a great list of peer connections and a few contrarian conference speeches here is a bullet list:
  • Change management probably is not needed (We do not Need Change Management).
  • There is a scary separation of those who have (and control) and those who do (and must take orders).
  • There is a lot of change in organizations, most not done well, which creates behaviors that some models call “resistance”.
  • 70% of the effort we put in to change is a waste of time (or some other ridiculous 70% fear stat).
  • Big firms, while supposedly addressing needed behavioral change, also work to create revenue enhancing dependence.
  • There is Tactical Change and there is Strategic Change (and there is TRUE Transformational Change).
  • Not to be confused with true sustainability, organizations want to own their own change.
  • Hence the huge trend lately to try to make consultants employees.
  • There are thousands of consultants, internal and external, chasing solutions and running away from root causes.
  • Chasing solutions can be very profitable for consultants and very safe for clients, leaders and organizations.
  • No don’t worry I am not going to do 900 bullet points… but,

If you like big lists (and comical big lists):

700th An Essay on Change

600th Enough posts now for lists, series, digging into my approach and more

500th A stroll through the history of Horizontal Change

400th All 400 posts lined up

300th I proffered a tidbit list of more insights, tools to use, things I have seen.

200th was a short list of favorite posts.

100th I gave that many tiny insights.

Yes somehow I zipped right past 800.

In the middle of all this writing I added some twists in order to look at change from different angles:

On Wednesdays I write about things that make me “Wonderfully Disillusioned” (sample-from my frustration with the current trend for procurement relationships Middle Men, admittedly one of my favorites because I like the stepping stone analogy).

On Fridays I write about Fast Change (around us) (like the iPotty).

On Saturdays I define, and then place completely out of context, a word a week (Credence).

Tuesday is feeling like a good day for guest posts…

On the way to 1000 I am promising myself and readers some redesign, some additions, better organization, a white background option (with a CSS choice a reader could  follow their preference) and a continued contrarian voice.

900 blog posts. Time to catch my breath, leverage hindsight for the future and change a little.

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Leaders and Change Agents

Heather Stagl over at Enclaria has a nice succinct post listing, “Four Reasons Leaders Need Change Agents”.

Good stuff.

She didn’t mention external or internal although did say, “When there are people in your organization who are dedicated change agents…”. That still does not indicate internal or external. I will save that discussion for my next post.

For now:

The Four Reasons:

  • Feedback
  • Neutrality
  • Communication
  • Capability

Heather’s post stands on its own, but, of course, I see some add-ons and twists of thought that might be helpful in the interest of never-taking-things-at-face-value and always-digging-just-a-little-deeper, for knowledge and understanding.


Heather’s take was feedback as a form of crisis protection-recovering from the “cringe-worthy” were her words.

How about feedback as insurance?

Experience in 70 different cultures with four or five times as many leaders, for me, makes it pretty easy to predict what will happen when certain things are done and said. If this change agent to leader relationship is trusting and equal then discussion will reveal potential smart moves and not so smart moves.

Feedback requires something to have happened. Planning and strategy conversations always have an element of the past (can’t predict outcomes without comparison). Those past elements are a perfect time for change agent feedback. That kind is easy because the “crisis” has passed and the discussion may just prevent the next.


All change requires mediation.

This is a crucial role and competency for change agents.

My add here is that is can be very beneficial for the mediating change agent to “pretend” a perspective and then make an argument for it. If they are really good they can do it twice for both sides of the discussion. Complete neutrality isn’t always the most effective approach.

I personally have never liked the, “I hear what you are saying… blah, blah, blah” form of mediation. Sometimes the change agent needs to insert refined opinion into exchanges. (The added bonus is that others- leaders- get taught how to make arguments that can be heard).


Transparency because of lack of authority was Heather’s take.

Back to that trusted partner relationship between the leader and the change agent, my add- the addition of a conduit for information.

Stakeholders love and cling to anyone who represents the owner of the change. If a change agent can walk the fine line of representing the owner without jeopardizing that leader or the change, information can fly back and forth.

In terms of communication adept change agents can quickly flatten the organization. (I have always thought that is the element that drives project managers crazy- we are able to make things happen quickly because we step right past political obstacles).

We understand informal communication which can be the underlying foundation of change or the liquid soil that is a sink hole waiting to happen.


Change agent ability and competency transfers through the organization is Heather’s take.

This is true and most applicable at the tactical level. I have always thought change agents at a tactical level are simply teaching, modeling and mentoring the learning of leadership skills (that we used to have and that companies used to pay to have). Capability when it comes to change is about competency and experience. Change agents bring the experience and can teach competency.

My add is that change agents (especially multi-organization externals) bring a capability that the organization does not, and arguably cannot, have internally. We often make it OK to temporarily go around internal politics and OK to call out organizational root causes. When a light is shone on politics and root causes, capability increases geometrically (pretty darn fast).

The chance for: feedback, neutrality, communication and capability follow a change agent everywhere they go.

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Just claiming my blog on Bloglovin

Change Management Dreams


A vacation (without preloading blog posts) and a more disillusioned than wonderful (Wonderfully Disillusioned Wednesday’s posts reference for new readers) couple of days has created a writer’s block funk.

Being an eternal optimist (admittedly hardened as I get older), roadblocks, setbacks and obstacles take a while to build up enough for numbing “funks”. It happens once in a while though. I have come up with a strategy to get past and overcome this personal version of quicksand. Do something I really like that always works to make me feel better: DREAM.

When I make things up, when I ask why and what if questions about things I always perk up over possibility.

This works for big remodeling projects at home, it works with career development and it works at client sites for change big and small.

The key is to realize you are dreaming. (Few of these big fantasies every become reality).

Dreaming About Change Management

The Funk

This latest funk has a lot to do with change management as a specialty/industry/practice.

Here is the CM funk list:

  • Third parties in the way
  • Status quo that is consistent from organization to organization
  • Packaged template based, heavily marketed, approaches
  • Tactics over strategy
  • The Plexiglas ceiling (my new term for the inability for anyone woman or man to rise to executive levels)
  • Ridiculous fixation with “resistance” and so resistance-fighting
  • Constant homage to guru’s of the past
  • Contracting from the middle of the organization
  • Invisible or non-existent owners
  • Review processes that slow change to a snails crawl

OK I’ll stop (there is a lot more though…).

The Dream


Because people are people.

Even for dreamers like me it is often easier to just do things the way you always have. When everyone starts to operate that way, one place looks like another. And one person acts like another. And we get “human nature”.

While this frustrates and irritates me I get it. I also get the underlying structure that people-who-become-the-same tend to create.

What if?

But what if there was an organization with one person or filled with people who understood the why answer and wanted to do something about it? Just What if…

Let’s make this dream sequence easy (and practical) by matching the previous funk list:

  • Consultants especially, contractors probably, would be sourced by internal resources.
    Why is it that organizations are so intent on making project management, change management, strategy and planning internal, but are willing to divvy up the acquisition of outside resources? That is arguably the most important role in the process of change. And you outsource it? Direct contracting is in the dream. Practically is has to be cheaper. It certainly ties the organization together tightly with outside influence. Thanks to LinkedIn sourcing is easy these days (those outside recruiters have no secret hiding places for resources).
  • This dream organization would work to constantly tweak status quo.
    Maybe in the big dream they would actually start from scratch. They would look at their performance management process (and in many ways eliminate it). They would look at the way they communicate (start-up screen comms., a useful well designed portal, a system of one step editing and approval, cascade and direct to stakeholder processes, etc.). Creating this organization from scratch is my own ULTIMATE dream. This is the one I use when I am depressingly “funked”. If I ever get to help create this dream I will be able to say I made it, officially, in this career. Anyone else share this dream?
  • Templates would be for recording information not guiding process.
    Enough said about that funky and pesky-like-a-mosquito-at-night problem.
  • Strategy first.
    There are organizations that mostly just do tactics. They say they have a strategy, but it is more strategic implementation. Quarter to quarter to the next quarter with no one realizing four quarters make a year and a couple of years make a strategy. In this dream place high level talk would be about 3-5 years from now. Later conversations would be about what that means for today and tomorrow.
  • Actual hierarchy.
    I never thought I would say this, since I am not a fan of directive organizations, but companies really need to go back to old-fashioned org charts (that get published, that people can see and use). That status quo, group think thing creates a LOT of buck passing. The nature of business and society here in the US at least over the last 15 years or so is lots to the top few and little to the others. Anyone notice the org charts started disappearing at the point this started happening? Org charts are one way to have accountability. I like my dreams to be free-flowing and open. In this one category my dream would have some rigidity, structure and accountability. And it would have a clear way for people to rise to higher levels.
  • Possibility.
    Resistance is an active force against something. People often hesitate and consider and evaluate change. They often get a little nervous about new things (if they learn to dream the nervousness is the kind you get before a great performance). In my mind (or dream) resistance is sabotage- active, on purpose and meant to hold something back. And of course it doesn’t exist in my dream (or in the real world).
  • No reading.
    I would like to say this is kidding. You can read my stuff… One of my funk items is that people read one or two things, usually the most available and most heavily marketed (and written at a 7th grade level), and then become change experts by the end of the weekend. It shocks me that so many people just parrot from the past- nothing original from them. And then they suck everyone around them into their guru initiated low-level approach and perspective. In my dream people read with a discerning eye and they act having read A LOT (from every angle). OK maybe in my dream we have to go all the way back to the education system and teach discernment (Note: the new teaching standards, because of the internet and opinion over fact, have this built-in to the new approach-Kudos to whoever pushed that).
  • Contractors contracted in the middle.
    It makes sense for specialist resources to be contracted in the middle. These are the people who do the work of an employee. They are needed because the organization does not have that capability, because  that expertise is only needed for a short period of time and/or because the organization wants to learn that talent. (That is the spot where contractor starts to cross with consultant). In my dream middle of the organization leaders do what they do well-tactical approaches to strategy.
  • Visible, existent (and accountable) owners.
    In my dream world senior leaders know how to create long-term strategy. They know what those creations mean to them and their peers personally. They care about both the organization and the people (and they are rewarded for that [and rewarded realistically], not personal gain). When they have that mix-we have moved to the dream stage now-they own the results. They are active. They follow through. They actually DO some of the hands on work. Lately my dream has looped in the Board of Directors. Because in the grand dream they were once these dream owners. Now they oversee that process. They OWN accountability and results. Through others yes, but they have the leverage to make it work.
  • One stop exchange.
    My answer, in my dream and the real world, to the question, “If you could do one thing at every place you assist what would that be?”. The easy answer is reduce decision-making around exchange to one stop (OK maybe two to compromise). In the dream people are good at talking, interacting, keeping up with information inside and outside their organization (you know like consultants). Because they do this, are like this, when it comes to deciding things and interacting they have thought things through. When you think through you do not need quite as much editing and review. (and no the permission process is not “extra” thinking).

So there you go. It took close to 1400 words and my longest post to break the funk. Funk broken though!

The, my, change management dream has: direct contracting in the right place, flexible status quo, templates as data, strategy first, Org Charts, possibility, discernment, active Owners and one stop review. To see even one of these happen would be a dream come true.

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All Strategy is not the Same

Gail Severini’s post today, “the Enlightened Program Manager-Partnering with Change Management” got me thinking.

She says (correctly by my experience):

“The reality in most organizations is that strategy is parsed into Strategic Business Units and/or Divisions and the leader assigns it to a program manager to organize.”.

What if all strategy in organizations was not treated the same?

We have to start with those situations where this really makes sense-transformation.

True transformation- not something that just picked up the label because it is big and/or Enterprise wide. If the organization is really going to be different after this change- process, approach,technology and people (yes it is probably all of the above)- then a different kind of strategy is called for.

This would be a strategy that is orchestrated at the highest levels- CEO and Board of Directors. Everything would connect (and would be communicated as connecting) across the organization. If this is a picture it would be one map as a whole with parts and pieces within. And it would not be the map (I have seen many of these) that is drawn AFTER the parts and pieces have been parsed.

As an aside this parsing process is similar to a present to future perspective for change. It almost eliminates any view of the whole. Contrast that to strategy that is whole focused and high in the organization and an end state focus for change. Both give the whole, provide context and effectively put the “parsing” into perspective.

If all strategy were not treated the same there would always be an element that raises work (which carries lots of internal political baggage with it) to a level that is shared by all.

What if the “Program Manager” was above the units and divisions?

One way to do that would be to elevate those Program Managers Gail mentioned to this higher level-if only for the transformation.

This is done frequently in organizations by naming an SVP as the leader (In my taxonomy this would be the Implementary Leader) of the transformation. The inherent problem with this is that now you have a peer leading a horizontal (the one with the “S” ego’s and reputations). In my pie in the sky vision this Program Manager would be a role that stays after the transformation. In fact it might have been a role that was created early on in the organizations history in preparation for the big change every company goes through eventually.

I see this role as the business version of a very high level change management consultant. (In fact they would partner as right and left/left and right, in a perfect world).

The CEO would still need to be the owner and own the change, but this set up would signal to the organization that there is also an important leader to implement (and in this case the support of a senior change person who will focus on the whole, the context and the people).

What if unit and division tactical strategy scaled up?

You could edge toward this structure by creating more scale up from inside the organization to a holistic strategy.

Most companies would argue they already do this with some version of committees, executive summits, golf games etc. I have been in 70+ companies as a consultant and have yet to see any of these arrangements do anything more than quickly parse work. They all basically scale stuff up and then get parse stuff back in (maybe it is more of a grand permission process than strategy).

All strategy is not the same. Approaching transformation as if it is a program of Divisional/Business Unit work streams is status quo. Change and status quo do not blend well.

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