There are very few people working in businesses today that have not experienced some form of business improvement project, merger or acquisition. Some have more experience than others and develop polarised views, they either enjoyed it or disliked it. Given the work we do and the number of improvement projects we see and participate in, we have identified a number of common traits. I thought this insight was worth sharing, no doubt you may recognise some of them.

  1. Lack of alignment, clarity and insight
    Few senior management teams truly understand how the business works end to end. Fewer still understand how they can achieve alignment, clarity and insight easily and cost effectively.
  2. Poor definition of the future state
    When you begin with a future state and end point in mind, it allows you to set objectives and set the course for how you are going to get there, including what resources you will need and when and what changes need to be made.
  3. Too much stress and anxiety
    Most people generally don’t like change or uncertainty. Reducing stress and anxiety comes down to effective communication. Unfortunately, it is one area that most organisations are incredibly poor at. Starting with why, what, when, how, who is a good practice and will start the organisational conversation and the subsequent conversations you need to have.
  4. Lack of research
    If you do a Google search on business improvement projects or change management you typically see statistics such as 70% of projects fail, only 30% deliver value and 10% actually end up in a worst position as a result of the change. This is a pretty poor track record. But, if you can read the statistics and the case studies then you can also research the successful cases and what they did. So you know what to avoid and what you can do. Research is empowerment.
  5. Jumping to conclusions
    Most jump to conclusions and identify a problem when in fact the problem is a symptom of something else. Correctly identifying the root cause can save a lot of time, effort and money. Asking those impacted for input and feedback gives you the opportunity to listen before leaping to action. Often, there is no single solution so it pays to get input and buy-in so when you do make a decision on the action to be taken, everyone gets behind it and makes it work.
  6. Reinventing the wheel
    Leveraging the tools and resources that you already have and understanding how you deliver value can stop you wasting time and reinventing the wheel.
  7. Confusion and overwhelm
    Most businesses fail to address the confusion and overwhelm by clearly articulating a simple and effective way to make the transition. Yes, it does exist and don’t let anyone tell you it doesn’t.
  8. So there you have it, some thoughts to consider before you start your next project.