Reflections from the past

Thinking back to my time in the private sector, we were implementing ‘continuous improvement’ projects that delivered measurable results.  We only really delivered measurable results when managers took real measurable action. We studied what managers were focused on, and created models and tools to support them and their teams.  We coached managers to deliver results.  But it was the manager’s ability to manage change that ultimately influenced the level of results achieved.

Six years ago, I arrived at Systemscope when change management was all the rage.  Departments were looking to implement ‘change management’ projects that delivered measurable results.

With my successes from the private sector tucked safely into my back pocket, surely I could re-create them in the public sector.

In many ways, I did exactly that. The approaches (the ‘what’) that I created and the operational viability in the solutions that I developed were adaptations from my earlier days.

The piece that was still missing for me was more related to the implementation (the ‘how’).  There was a definite absence of front line manager input in the creation and implementation of change projects and initiatives across whole of government. I believe that this absence may have diminished the level of results that were achieved.

Now fast forward to today.

Today we are being engaged to implement ‘complex integrated’ projects in the public sector that are designed to deliver measurable results.  Sound familiar?

I believe that the absence of front line manager input not only continues to exist today, but the consequences may be even more dire. I make this statement based on the high volume of change initiatives all underway and impacting the same group of front line managers all at the same time.

It’s my wish for 2017 that we learn from the past and leave behind two common assumptions:

  • Stop assuming that the right approach alone will deliver results. An approach has never delivered results. People, and more importantly teams, deliver results.
  • Stop assuming that managers* have the capacity and capabilities required to manage change. Most managers do not have the time or training required to take measurable action.

*Manager refers to anyone who is responsible for a team of employees, at any level in the organization.  This blog does not provide comment on the unique role of Leaders or the importance of leadership skills. That is another subject for another day.

We all need to focus more on the role of the manager.  Not from an HR perspective or a functional work perspective, but from a results perspective.  Do we even know what managers need to focus on in order to deliver measurable results, what they are actually focused on, and what the gap is?

That too sounds familiar.

As I look forward to some amazing projects in 2017, I know that I will be guided by this information.  I hope that you will consider the same.

Best wishes for a healthy and prosperous 2017!


Kathy Roy has implemented business transformation and change management projects in complex organizations for over two decades. She has worked with major companies, both public and private, and with numerous business sectors in both Canada and the United States. She is part of Systemscope's Strategic Business Consulting practice.


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