Why Manage Better?

Monday, December 9, 2019

Thinking! Why do over 75% RPA and Digital programs fail?

My best wishes to all of you on the auspicious occasion of Dusshera today. Thank you also for your over 200 likes for my video blog last week on OpEx metrics. Many of you sent feedback and I am grateful for the same.

My topic today is something that I have been asked. Why do over 75% RPA and Digital programs fail? Or do not give the return we expected.
Of course there is no one answer to this. Much of what you face today could be a result of technical choices you made. I however, am convinced that the answer in in History and Psychology of similar initiatives in your organization.

Secret Sauce for lasting Change

In the last few weeks I have shared my views on how Technology is helping Operations get better. Much of this is large and complicated Change. Today’s post is about one key aspect of making all that Change happen - Managing people to deliver Change. Anyone who has tried to implement anything new will know that anything worth doing is also hard. It does not work most of the time, it takes longer than planned, and it is more costly than estimated. But it does not have to be.

In my over 20 years in process excellence I have learnt a few things and top of the list is – you don’t get anything done alone. You need a team and people make up a team. Not robots. Not yet. People have emotions and the least we can do is to try and understand them.

Found your dream job? Now what?

Okay then, you found the job you were looking for. Now what?
 Among the coaching and guidance calls I get the most common ones (after seeking a job change) are the ones on how to settle in at a new organization. While many of us focus intensely on finding a new job I do not see the same process orientation and focus after landing the job you wanted (or didn’t want but accepted anyways). 
 I have often wondered why I get such requests for guidance. As always, answers are complicated. It could be because I am willing to talk/help. It could be because people notice that I have changed a few (not many) jobs and might be able to help. Whatever may be the motivation of people reaching out to me, I have tried to help. And in the process, I found a pattern in my answers.
In this note today, I wanted to share this pattern. The tips are neither ground breaking nor ‘you read it here first’ type. But they have worked. Worked for me and about 25 other professionals who I have shared these tips with. As always, the content is dynamic and keeps changing with each opportunity. 
 There are five broad areas of interest when you land at a new organization. These are getting to know the Organization, Boss, Stakeholders, team, and you!
1.       Get to know the Organization: 
·       What is the Business model of the company you have joined? In simple terms this is – how money is made? Understand how stuff works! Product lines, key customers, which service generates more revenue, costing model etc. This sounds easy but is usually not. You can’t ask the question directly and won’t get a direct reply as well. Use experience and judgement on who you can ask and how. And keep refining the answer.
·       What are the Business Objectives and Goals for this year? What is the high level plan for next couple of years? Don’t be too pesky lest you be accused of being a spy!
·       Understand the organization chart and sniff out power equations. Yes sniff out! Know your function. What position it has strategically in the company?
2.       Get to know your Boss or Bosses:
·       There are enough and more studies (and LinkedIn posts) declaring that your boss is the single most important factor in your career. I am no one to debate that but have a contrarian view surely.
·       Your boss may not help you progress in your career but can surely derail your career or even have put some brutal brakes. So, please understand your boss and what he/she wants; how he/she works; what are the synergies among you both and more importantly how you are different. 
·       With multinational organizations you may find you often have two bosses. You might be naturally inclined to work better with one but please beware – the other can be more damaging. In summary, please remember, a boss may not help you but can surely dump you. 
·       Respect your boss even if you like him/her.

3.       Get to know the stakeholders
·       Develop a list of your stakeholders. It helps to have a top 10 or top 50 kind of list. These are teams you work with, teams you work for, and teams who work for your function/department. From this list identify key stakeholders who you are going to serve and the ones who could ruin your career.
·       It takes a lot to understand the motivations and limitations of your stakeholders. Try and understand some background of each. And often something a bit personal (not too personal, please!) about them helps. What are their plans/objectives?
·       Meet them and understand how your team has helped them. Take feedback. Don’t defend your team much. You know nothing yet so an unnecessary show of loyalty could be seen as stupidity.

4.       Get to know the team
·       Understand your resources. This is the team you must work with. When you join almost everyone is looking forward to meeting you. Spend this time with them. One on one where possible.
·       Don’t miss out on knowing your people a bit personally (again, not too personal). Understand their skills, background and aspirations. What are their views about the company and how can they help you.
·       While you should meet as many as you can please be aware that first impressions shouldn’t be the last ones. You may discover a gem a bit later in your time here so be patient with people. And of course, guard against the extra clever ones.

5.       Most importantly, know yourself!
·       This might precede all the above journey, but my guess is you would have done some of this during your job search. Knowing your strengths and limitations is always useful but even more so when you are new to a job and company.
·       This is also a chance to project yourself a bit differently. Work on how you want people to know you. Ideally, being authentic always helps but if you do have something you want to suppress or improve upon then this is your great opportunity.
·       Whatever you do, please stick to the basics well. Don’t be late for anything, be well mannered, work hard! Most importantly, keep your promises. When you are new, everyone is watching you!
I hope these tips make your landing smoother. I am also sure that many of you have more and better tips for people who are new in their jobs.
Landing a new job is the start of your journey, not an end to it. Celebrate you should but get back to work soon.