4OC’s by-line is that we make complex change easy.
We put our approach through continuous review and use the findings to tweak how our programmes are delivered. We know from first-hand experience which aspects of delivery drive success in change programmes and we are happy to share our experience and approach.
In reality, all change programmes have complexity and they are all difficult to deliver well. You will know from your own organisations there are countless examples of programmes that have failed to gain traction, not delivered the benefits expected and, sometimes, cause needless disruption. They are often accompanied by expensive resourcing, poorly framed communication and products that fail to meet the needs of the business.
What makes a successful programme
We deliver or support the delivery of change for a wide range of customers and we are very proud of our hit rate in terms of customer feedback and our record of delivering to time and cost. We analyse our deliveries qualitatively and quantitively to understand what we could do better. Consistently, the same themes come out to differentiate the successful deliveries from those that are more problematic:
- Clarity of purpose: This is a phrase we picked up from our partners in Rainmaker Solutions. Having a well-articulated aim or goal for a programme with genuine senior management and key stakeholder buy-in is by far the single biggest influencer on whether programmes will succeed or fail. We spend what seems like a disproportionate amount of time in our engagements ensuring there is clarity and a common understanding and agreement of the aims and outcomes of the programme across the most senior levels of the organisation before we even put a spade in the ground.
- Governance: You’ll need an active sponsor that has the ability, commitment and capacity to drive the delivery with a programme board that includes key stakeholders. There is considerable value in having a wide representation from the business, particularly operational delivery, and the stronger the viewpoints the better.
- Expertise: Without any doubt, an understanding of the subject matter in hand is vital to the successful delivery. Credibility in front of the staff, managers and leaders is a key attribute in the roles involved in progressing delivery. We often put in place a Design Authority, made up of internal subject matter experts, as a means of ensuring the solution being delivered reflects the existing organisational knowledge.
- Stakeholder Management: This is the engine for successful delivery. Ensuring that the communities impacted by change are involved in design and decision making, understanding and buy-in requires significant effort from the programme team. Effective programme management is, at its heart, a communications challenge.
- Programme Management: Finally, the concepts and activities associated with running a programme are well defined and trained out across public service delivery organisations. However, the rigour and prioritisation of these activities, the use of concepts such as risk and benefits management are most effective when delivered by experienced, motivated programme delivery staff.
A good programme requires a blend of capabilities
Customers often ask for proven, ‘heavy-hitting’ programme directors to support delivery but this capability needs to be complimented with strong programme office, change management, business analysis and solution design capability.
Not all these roles need to be dedicated to an initiative but there are few change programmes that do not need these skills along the way. It is unlikely that you will find all of these in one person.