Nothing against the strategy consulting firms and we do our fair share of that kind of work but it is intriguing to find bewildered client after bewildered client – once the strategy firms have left. Leaving behind a client Executive Team convinced of the tremendous value that is lying untapped inside their organization only if their organizational leaders could get their act together and Transform their organization. No mention is made of the various elements of any Transformation Roadmap that must be put in place (Governance, Competencies, Change Management etc. etc. etc.). The effort required from the Executive Team is especially absent and especially critical.
Large numbers are thrown around (red herrings) that generate lots of excitement at the Executive level and dread at the leadership level. There is no mention of the “investment” that will be needed for the Transformation – investment of resources, political capital, executive and leadership attention, churn, funding for training and external help, etc. In the absence of all of these things, the timelines and expected results become unrealistic and the Transformation is doomed for failure before it even begins.
While nothing that the strategy firms have said is ever wrong, it’s what’s not said that causes the problem. If their strategies are not Adopted, the value from their work diminishes significantly and leads to frustration at the leadership level – who wait with dread for the next strategic engagement with their Executives. How many times have you been at the receiving end of what I’m describing? There is no discussion of where the resources are going to come from and whether the active and visible political support will be delivered by the Executive team. Expecting different results from the same group of people without enhancing or changing their competencies seems illogical but far too many Transformation plans don’t address that. Not having an active Change Management competency to help manage the inevitable churn is just adding significant risk yet it is often ignored. Implementing governance structures to help resolve issues and accelerate decision making seems obvious but very often missing. Yet no mention is made of most of these – and these are all, ALL – Predictable and Inevitable – for ANY Transformation.
The poor leaders of the organization feel like they’ve been through the wringer after a year or so when hardly any progress is being made on the Transformation and the executives keep asking for progress updates against the promised results that the consultants presented. Funding requests are viewed skeptically because the results are not there. The organization has been through churn and people are losing trust in their leaders – yet more and more is expected from them. As they say – the height of folly is to keep doing the same thing over and over again yet expect different results. The executives make a change in the leadership and wait for the next strategy consultant to come in – and the cycle starts all over again.
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