SNAFU! Just another business improvement debacle…

Many business improvement problems – cost overruns, delays, low quality, stakeholder dissatisfaction, etc, etc. – can be traced back to the fact that when external parties (vendors, consultants, service providers) are involved; profit centric objectives of these parties take first priority over business objectives.

Far too often, what is intuitively obvious (to me) is overlooked, ignored or taken for granted by those who think they know better (project people) and those who ought to know better (business people) take what is said as given (the fact that project people often know that miracles have to occur in order to deliver according to business people’s expectations is not said).

Unfortunately, as history evinces, far too many so called project managers have been raised on the premise that consensus is best. An utterly and completely wrong perspective when one is dealing with greedy, backstabbing external parties intent solely upon making money. It is not difficult to manage external parties provided one is prepared to bruise egos or spill blood at the first inclination of upcoming problems.

Here then are some words to the wise. The following quips and quotes speak to matters far more damaging than the mere mechanics of change and that, I suspect, is the root reason why so many good, worthy efforts to improve the business fail to meet expectations. Each quip is generalized and the specific degree of impact would shift for better or worse according to the situation of the reader but, and this is important, would rarely be totally obviated.

 1. In this instance, one could replace the words ‘corporate transformation’ with the name of a company or government entity and, accepting that scale of impact may differ, the rest of the statement would hold true. I would be very pleased to be proven wrong…      

 Introductory Remarks: Sun Tzu and the Art of Corporate Transformation
 “Never in the history of corporate transformation have so many business improvement projects delivered so little, so late, so poorly for so much cost and aggravation. Now for the bad news…”

J. Bolden, ICKCCO, Boston USA

2. The following is a perfect question to ask when the sum of business improvement projects are not delivering results as expected. Both Hierarchical and Matrix Organization structures are the breeding ground for too many chiefs, far too many mercenaries and far too few truly focused on improving the business.

 Keynote Presentation Extract: The Case for the Chief Change Officer
 “One trusts that someone, somewhere, has full and complete vision of everything that is being considered, being planned and being undertaken to improve the business, across the entire business. Let me ask YOU! Who would that be…?”
J. Bolden, IICM, New Orleans USA

3. This statement speaks to the dangers of accepting what is proffered at face vale by external parties as the means to salvation. It is only by independently assessing what is on the table within the true context of who will be doing what to whom, why, where, when, at what cost and with what expected result that one can determine if what is envisioned is plausible and possible, that what is planned is practical and achievable and that what will be done makes sense, avoids risk and will meet expectations…

Tutorial Extract: Quislings Multiply Like Lemmings
 “Asking questions about who is going to do what to whom, where, when, why, at what cost, with what intended result and with what impact to the organization and other projects is Good management. Relying solely upon answers from those who stand to Gain or Lose the most from the outcomes of change is Not necessarily Wise management…”

J. Bolden, ECITM, Paris France

4. There are hundreds of thousands of project managers, most are good at what they do – the question is, is what they do right and proper for the greater good of the business or right for the project? If external parties are in play, their change mechanics govern and their change mechanics are aligned first and foremost to profitability, not to changing the business as quickly and effectively as possible. In far too many cases, project managers (internal or external) are excellent managers of the mechanics of change but have little appreciation or skill about the other dimensions of change that are ready to render yet another good, worthy effort to improve the business a failure.  

 Keynote Extract: Corporate Singularity – Who’s On First?
 “No Matter What You Want to Do to Improve the Business… Seamless, Deft and Adroit Management of Change Mechanics AND Business Dynamics AND Corporate Optics AND Office Politics is Essential for Success… 
Focusing Solely Upon the Mechanics of Change is a Recipe for Disaster!
Let Me Explain…”
J. Bolden, PAC-CM, Singapore

5. Ah! I equate this to shooting at the moon. Aim at the moon (the business), fire the gun (define the improvement), wait for the explosion (the outcomes and deliverables). Nothing happens, the moon has moved (the business has moved on in the meantime) and the intended deliverables no longer fit and/or are not needed!

 Presentation Extract: Corporate Transformation, Who’s on First?
 “Today, most business improvement projects are managed according to yesterday’s thinking. Linear – Singular – Insular Project Management mindsets all but guarantee business improvement projects will fail to meet expectations. Let me explain…”

J. Bolden. EMTC, Rome Italy

6. The dichotomy of silo based process improvement …

¨        Business Motives Beget the Need for New or Changed Process… 

¨        Process is created or changed through Project(s)…

¨        Project(s) view Information from the perspective of the Process Need…

¨        Project(s) cause Information to be structured to satisfy Process Need…


Information/Process Silos are outcomes of defining and structuring Information as a Necessity for Process rather than as a Value Enabler for the Enterprise.

Keynote Extract: Information / Process Silos / Bane of the Enterprise

 “If Information is the DNA of the Enterprise, then Information/Process Silos are Viruses that Prevent Seamless, Cohesive Transfer of Knowledge between Enterprise Nodes.”

J. Bolden, IICM, New Orleans USA