Thank you to Jason F. for this week's question:
There are several processes at my company that just need to die. It’s not even difficult to see, as these are common sense disruptions that can’t be disputed. The problem is that they cross departmental lines and managers are afraid for their teams’ job security and even their own. This is usually thinly veiled through some other flimsy excuse, but it is actually sometimes admitted to.
I would like tips on breaking through these barriers outside of just going over everyone’s head (I hope I don’t have to do this).
You need two things:
- A high-five
- A slap in the face
You get high-fived first because:
- You have great vision for disruptive change
- You have a collaborative, inclusive spirit
- You have the guts to escalate to achieve your change goal
Allow me to slap you around a bit as well, because you need to wake up to these realities:
- Just because you have vision doesn’t mean your peers have it. In your case, they clearly do not.
- All disruptive change is common sense – to disruptive people. To your peers, this is abstract and doesn’t make much sense.
- No matter how high up you go to pitch this change, you will fail unless your audience shares your vision.
Conspicuously absent from your statement is a clear, concise business case for change. Build a documented business case that empirically demonstrates:
- Strategic wins. This means better customer experience, competitive advantage, and growth. It doesn’t mean departmental cost savings.
- Tactical wins. Reduced costs, increased productivity, reduced risk or any other small picture win.
- Change risks. Proactively point out what could go wrong with your change initiative. Then, develop impact analysis and risk management protocol for each risk identified.
- Where the disrupted people fit in. Great employees have a place in the new process, and bad ones don’t. This is perfectly synergistic with your company’s HR goals as they stand today. Map current top performers to their new roles at your org.
This is where your ability to execute will really be put to the test: are you only able to produce ideas, or can you produce the output needed to get this change rolling? If you don’t have the chops to build a fully documented and great-looking business case, your ideas will never go anywhere. This is the importance of execution over ideas.
So get started on it! If you ever start feeling like you can’t finish your business case, ask someone to slap you in the face.
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