Remove systemic hurdles

As portfolio manager, I have a team working on the execution of contracts, attending customers and trying to compete on the market with our solutions and value propositions.

When looking I look at the way we sell, offer and deliver, you find systemic hurdles that affect negatively to the ability to succeed. By that reason this aspect is one of the relevant areas of improvement we are launching.

We are using common sense and Six Sigma approach to identify, define, analyze and remove these hurdles.

That was the easy part. The difficult part is being to change the mindset of the people about behaviors and ways to proceed on non written procedures. I have find so many interesting things when you start to ask “why do you do this in this way”:

  1. A funny “we do this in this way because we always have done it in this way”.
  2. You discover other issues that are hidden inside a given department.
  3. You discover the real hierarchy of the small teams.
  4. You discover who plays the game of “doing him/her self irreplaceable”.
  5. Some people take it personally when you challenge them about change the way to proceed.

We are succeeding partly, and it is thanks to the management team that is pushing our actions on the given departments to act and improve these issues. Without this leadership the analysis is just an excel with so many data.

I’m happy with some of the results, to shake the “establishment” of an organization is something funny.

Behavioral attributes on program management

Cranfield University did a research related to behavioral attributes of the leaders when working on programs. The summary table of this research is added to the Managing Successful Programs book.

Attitude and aptitudes of leaders are summarized in a scale from 1 to 4, where 4 represents more awareness and capacity to lead the complexity of the programs. The research is focused on programs, but it’s perfectly applicable on other areas.

Program-Management-Behaviors

“Contract title” defense

You won last contract a couple of years ago, a big one, and you were so happy about it.

Time runs fast and now the new RFP is going to be published again. You feel as the owner of the work and from your point of view you deserve to continue handling this contract.

But the reality is other, you have to jump to the ring and defend your title.

First you have to remove from you and your team’s head some behaviors that will not help you:

  • Arrogance.
  • Limit yourself to the use of the same team that is working on the service.
  • Limit your solution to what you are offering right now, killing the out-of-box thinking.
  • Focus on maintaining the jobs and losing the focus on having the right team/right price.
  • Deny the existence of negative past performance.
  • Underestimate the ability of the competitors to sell a low-risk and low-cost transition story.

You have been invited again, so I’m sure you are doing well, but you have to change your mindset and force yourself to do not fall into the trap.

What can I do then?

You are out, so assume and transmit to the team that you are out. I remember a manager moving the offer team to a room in the other side of the building to physically remind the team that if they want to come back to their seats, they have to win the right to do it. Do not show you are just hungry, show you are starving.

Challenge your past performance, and the weak points of your model, so you have to be honest and serious about this. Don’t be complacent, you are out!.

Emphasize innovative thinking and fresh ideas, Add new people that promotes new ideas. Challenge your existing solution and think of ways to improve it.This potentially can generate conflicts, so be very carefully on this.

Listen customer feedback from a third party, gain perspective taking information from a trusted source, do not assume that you know how the client feels about your delivery.

This is a new deal, so manage it as a new win, a new logo. Show enthusiasm for this new logo, this new opportunity…

Show Corporate commitment to the RFP, identify people in your customer that are important (start from scratch) and visit them, identify people in your organization that needs to show-up. Your customer wants to understand your whole company is committed on their business, to have senior management showing the importance of this RFP is important.

Any other thing we have to think about? Just step into the ring and fight for a new contract!

Integrated reporting tools

The organization in my company is changing in so many things; and there is a very good small change that supposes a great achievement and cost saving.

We are eliminating some of the power point reports, by the reports through the standard tools.

You will ask yourself: easy, isn’t it?

Not at all, these tools are there for some years, and the real change is that the senior management team is not going to accept any single standard report that is not on the standards.

That’s all, leading by example and push to the immediate reporting line.

This is really a real saving in terms of effort and time.

Globe, regions, countries… areas of influence

Every single company is divided in departments, areas, regions, countries, …. units.

These units do not work alone, they need to interact and there is always an authority leading each its area of influence.

Nowadays I work for an unit facing the customer unit in front of me. There are other 2 units working in the same way, so 3 in total. One of them is leading the 3 units (name it: alpha).

The alpha unit should be leading their activities and coordinating the other units, leading them for the overall success of the unit team.

Instead of it, the people that belong to that unit uses the “alpha” label just as title that automatically gives them the right to ask for everything to other units.

The information just flows in one direction: their direction.

They sometimes forget that they have limited authority to ask for some things, and the most important thing is that their credibility is decreasing more and more.

They perfectly remind they have some rights, but they forget they have responsibilities too.

I have been thinking a lot about this situation that is not good for us, and the only conclusion I reach is: Protectionism.

Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action

Almost 18 minutes of concentrated messages, very interesting about how we behave, act, feel and think. For my memories.

  • People buy from people who believe in the same things.
  • People buy based on beliefs, not facts; they use the facts to support their beliefs.
  • People buy the “why”, not the “what”.

In the context of offerings,

An offering by itself does not have value. The implementation of an offering has value if it resolves a customer problem. The customer has to believe that the proposal you are offering to him/her is the best approach to resolve their problem.

In this context and linked with the content of the video:

  • Big changes in your client’s industry  →   Why
  • Big objectives of your client’s Company →   How
  • Ways you can help your client’s business improve →  What