We had a wonderfully stimulating series of workshops on Friday at the Best Practice Showcase.
We focused on the question of how we get better and smoother take-up of project deliverables by client operations, an area where there is so much waste, of project products not being properly or fully used, the cause of so many unrealised benefits.
The sessions seems to build on each other and amplify as the day went on. Richard and I, with our freshly-honed graphical skills, developed a series of flip charts that we agreed to send copies of on to all participants along with our analysis of the emergent themes.
(If you would like a set please contact our office.)
One theme that emerged fairly strongly was around certain ideas that were apparently contradictory. For example, the need for quick wins was raised several times, but also the need to pause at the initiation of a project - to wait - until the key stakeholders were all properly engaged. This contradiction illustrated for me quite vividly that with change management we are dealing as much with an art as a science.
Delegates hinted at experience through the day of charging ahead to a strategic timetable without a clear consensus by key stakeholders at a senior level. Powerful people were not on board when the train left the station; so they never did get on board, with disappointing consequences.
But this picture of holding our nerve at initiation until all the key stakeholders are engaged, despite pressures to scamper on and deliver, reminded me of that classic movie, "Henry V" with Laurence Olivier as the King, where the archers have all drawn their bows as the French cavalry advance on the field of Agincourt, and they wait, and wait, and wait... The king has his gauntlet raised, but he waits.... The tension becomes almost unbearable, but he waits for the moment when the initial volley from the archers will have maximum effect.
In recent years I've been won over to the concept of Agile, of 'failing fast', of getting delivery out quickly. However, I do accept that when it comes to issues of engagement, I could quote another Shakespeare play, Julius Caesar: "There is a tide in the affairs of men, when taken at the ebb leads on to fortune."
Ultimately it's all in the timing.