When a type of project is often compared to changing the engines of a 747 when the plane is in flight or the equivalent of open-heart surgery while the patient is running a marathon you know it is going to be challenging. In fact it sounds daunting and something that only for those willing to take on a type of “extreme sport” of projects.
So what if you are not the type to engage in extreme sports? What if your idea of challenge and risk is less free base-jumping and more chipping onto the green? Are these projects only for the most extreme of organizations and for the thrill seeking?
There are ways to greatly reduce the risk and remove much of the extreme element and risks in the program. While this may reduce the excitement for some, these approaches will provide a safety net that allow the transformation to continue in a careful progressive manner without the risk of fatalities.
These approaches are based on anti-patterns where risks and challenges have emerged and are focused in bringing the maximum amount of clarity and insight to the program as early as possible while minimizing the scale of the program before clarity has been achieved. Here are some of the ways to bring safety and reduce the risk of your transformation program:
- Begin with the end state in mind: have a clear view of the target state from both a business and technology perspective and then determine the sequences required to reach that end state. Execute those sequenced projects in a manner that the organization is comfortable with.
- Establish a deployment and implementation plan that fits with your risk profile: there are many ways to go live. One way to reduce the risk and change impact of transformation is to transform specific aspects or components at a time. Learn from these microcosm transformations and feed this information back into your plans.
- Establish a small, dedicated and consistent core team: this is common advice for programs like this but let me bring a new perspective to it: if your business subject matter experts are only partially assigned or not fully engaged and if you have turnover of key resources or if the team is too large your program will face similar extreme risks to people climbing skyscrapers without safety harnesses. With large teams, nothing is decided and with turnover nothing is remembered.
- Know your organization, know your target platform: too many programs begin with blue sky thinking and white-boarding without enough knowledge of how the organization operates currently, would like to operate in the future, and what the target platform is capable of.
So, if you are feint of heart and not interested in tackling extreme sports there are ways to still consider transformation. Just as not all sports need to be extreme, not all transformation programs need to be extremely challenging.
What has your experience been? Have you seen aggressive transformation programs implemented in a way that helps to manage risk? Are there some specific mitigation actions that you have seen help to reduce the extreme element from these programs?