Not long ago the EVP of a multinational client called us in it to say that his company had recently been through an expensive strategic planning exercise with a major consulting firm and had been left with a detailed implementation roadmap. Although they’d been going through the implementation for a few months, the implementation of the roadmap had not met objectives, and our client had just been asked to take over the project. “The problem is,” he said, “that no one can really get their arms around this and so far, people seem to either genuinely not know what to do or actively resist the plan, and in each case retreat into passive-aggressive blocking mode.”
Two main problems became immediately obvious:
- first, the consultants’ Implementation Roadmap, was a binder about 6 inches deep with over 100 densely packed PowerPoint slides.
- second, while a tremendous amount of thought had been given to engineering every project, subproject and step, no thought had been given to how to ensure the participation of the individuals and departments who would be affected by it.
When it comes to planning implementation, all too often the mobilizing potential of an organization’s culture is not recognized, neither is its capacity to insidiously block plans that its members neither understand nor can relate to.