No excuse for an IT transformation "train-wreck"
I'm rarely lost for words but when you're about to meet one of the senior managers of one of the world's largest consulting companies, I didn't see it coming. We had originally and only connected on LinkedIn and so I guess he was almost correct.
Our meeting passed by rapidly and continued in that same light-hearted fashion, but then he told me of the desire to grow the business through the hiring of amazing talent. He described several key characteristics essential to be found in those that he felt would make a difference in the delivery of amazing projects around the country.
It was coming to the end of the week and as I thought back, I recalled some of my previous project experiences and even over the last three day's meetings, how right he was in collecting together those essentials of project delivery.
jumping on the moving train
It was a few years ago and I was fortunate enough to have been immersed in the world of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and have never forgotten being told "never jump on a moving train". The analogy was simple enough; to not engage with people unless you're in sync with them from the outset, otherwise they just won't listen to someone who their brain is telling them, "he's not like you and therefore doesn't understand you".
I was many thousands of miles away and running a large program in a country with a very different culture to that of my recent experience. As the Program Director I had become tired of seeing deadlines slide and a general contradiction in the contractor manager weekly reports versus the reality of when I "helicoptered-in" to see for myself. Enough was enough, it was time for me to "save the day"! or at least I thought.
And in my expat stereo-typical, arrogant and colonial way said to my immediate managers I was coming in to the project and would be pretty much onsite 6-7 days per week. In I went, fast talking, somewhat abrasive and far too condescending. Now instead of being told by managers the contradictory stories, it was now even more at the "coalface" (the workers!) where the "untruths" were staring me in the face.
it dawned on me
As my frustration increased, it was so clear people were simply telling me what they thought I wanted to hear, rather than upset me in the moment. People do far more to avoid pain, than they do to gain pleasure. It was clear, before it was too late, I had to change my approach. I reminded myself, I am not a General, not a Manager, barking orders and telling people "to pull your socks up", but instead I am a Leader; a Leader prepared to roll-up my sleeves to do whatever it takes to help others deliver what was required.
Today, I find it sad even in an emerged economy, such as ours that there are so called leaders that apply similar arrogance and fail in the fundamental skills of self-awareness, sensory acuity and changing their approach to problems.
check your ego @ the door
Teams of inexperienced and experienced managers and consultants don't need your ego, they need your help, support, wisdom and to lead by example. Only this week, I met with two great managers and both were humble in their own way - confident? yes! but never arrogant. They were part of a program unfortunately under the "control" of arrogant management. It was sad to see their incredible talents being frustrated. One had won awards for her leadership of supply chain and smart metering solution IT programs, while the other, a highly experienced Shared Service Centre leader, so passionate in her approach to doing things right.
They were both highly professional and successful ladies who reminded me of great leaders that so many would jump at to work with........
been there, seen it, done it
Aside from those two ladies for a moment.....
"Pirates of Silicon Valley" - It was a good movie that chartered the start and course of both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, but I recall vividly where Bill sold his Microsoft solution to IBM with nothing built. It was "BS", but he knew deep-down how he was going to deliver it to them, on-time and in-budget. So intelligent was Bill that it was his inner-confidence that allowed him to "oversell".
But, when it comes to IT Programs, with so many moving parts, there's no room for massive overselling. Unless you've been there, seen it and done it, you can't bring to the table the fundamentals: methodology, problem resolution approaches, and planning to name but three.
A Methodology and a detailed plan needs building at the leadership level, with an experienced eye to set detailed realistic expectations.
And when problems arise, because they always will, the experience to deep-dive into the issues and to see it with your own eyes and to then work next to the team in resolving.
Those two amazing ladies, I was with last week "got it". They knew nothing was ever perfect and had that inner-confidence and readiness to jump-in at any moment to work with the team to fix. They knew subconsciously the steps to success; the roadmap to keep referring too so that nothing was forgotten.
all for one & one for all
I was due to meet one of the ladies and her reputation preceded her as I took my trip to out of London to discuss the way forward for the project. After three hours I finally arrived at the lobby to see smiling faces greeting me. I announced myself and took my seat, expecting a long wait as circumstances dictated I had to interrupt an all day workshop. But then a wonderful lady came to look after me and decided I looked like I needed a strong coffee. We walked through and she showed me around the Shared Service Centre. It was a delight to see the continued positive ambience, people moving around and the bright sunshine beaming through. There was a tremendous feeling of success. She was such an ambassador for the SSC, telling me of the camaraderie among them all and it was written all over her face. It has been created by a good leader, who had a detailed methodology and had built a team. It was a pleasure to spend the next couple of hours listening to her and experiencing the fruits of her passion.
As the saying goes, "emotion is motion". Unless you keep communicating, you can't keep motivating. Emails / Texts fall far short of talking to people and clarifying what needs to be done.
Now these two ladies sure can talk, but they don't just talk, they say things!
They often repeat what's important. They even labour over and over certain points so that you don't forget; embedding the command inside you and ensuring there's no confusion. You leave them, clear of what needs to be done and emotionally moved to take action right now. They talk to everyone, both up, down and side to side - they "over-communicate". After all, how else do you get through problems?
As we enter a new week, the to do list is full already with my search for more ladies like those two I met and have loved working with. You see, after my "1st online date", it's essential I find and provide him some great leaders to build an even more amazing business that I can be associated with.
Perhaps you're one of them?
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I can't wait to speak to you!