Stakeholder Management

Consultancy & Training, Gender issues, Philosophy, Stability, Stakeholder Management

If change managers helped with.. babies


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We have change managers in business all the time. But in life we are somewhat lacking. If we had a change manager when a baby came into our lives – what would that look like?

I met a colleague this week. He won’t mind me saying this. He has looked better.

I took a small amount of pleasure in thinking about the last time we met. I had big bags under my eyes that time. Now those indicators of night time nonsense seem to have leapt across the room – right into his.

He is well versed in this by now though. I think it’s his 4th. He knows that this moment in time is fleeting. Amazingly, he seems to be enjoying the fact that he and his wife now have to play “whose bed is it anyway?” as his kids run amok at 4am.

So I have randomly googled a change management guru this evening to help us all in this tricky dilemma. In doing so, I have found 5 key themes that good change management call for. I then ask, “why, when we spend millions of pounds/ dollars in our work lives on investing in getting people to swallow the pill, do we not learn how to take the pill ourselves, during one of the most disruptive times of our lives?”

Let’s take each point in turn shall we? I take my change management steer from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newPPM_87.htm

  1. Sponsorship: Ensuring there is active sponsorship for the change at a senior executive level within the organisation, and engaging this sponsorship to achieve the desired results.

Okay.. hopefully you were both in on this. If one of you wasn’t in on it all I can say is oops and good luck!

2. Buy-in: Gaining buy-in for the changes from those involved and affected, directly or indirectly.

This is a wide one. All stakeholders. Well, that’s a long list. You know why? Because once you have a baby almost the whole world will be involved. I remember taking my first born out for a stroll in August (in the UK) and being told by a well-meaning middle aged lady to “be sure to put on a hat now”. Hmmm it was 70 degrees but even strangers have opinions on these things. Again, let’s hope both parties were involved in the decision. “Mistakes” might be hard to handle at this point as I’m sure each person blames the other for the “changes affecting them directly or indirectly”. Oh dear. Take cover. Mother-in-law/ Mothers are also very important at this point. Ignore them at your peril.

3. Involvement: Involving the right people in the design and implementation of changes, to make sure the right changes are made.

From decorating the nursery to what to feed ’em. Again, your stakeholder list will be very, very long. Involving everyone in these decisions is exhausting but better than the alternative. If you involve NO-ONE? They will laugh at your smugly as you struggle to attach the buggy on Sainsbury’s car park. Ask everyone for their opinion. Then ignore them all.

4. Impact: Assessing and addressing how the changes will affect people.

Oh dear. I really messed up here on my communications plan. My main aim was to set expectations early. My 4 year old found out about the impending cuckoo at about 6 month’s from blast off. BIG MISTAKE. Never tell people about a change too early. Often they don’t know enough and it bugs them. She bugged me for all that time because she just wanted to know what sharing me was like but I couldn’t really tell her. As a result she turned into the female version of The Omen until finally she realised what she was dealing with.

5. Communication: Telling everyone who’s affected about the changes.

Here is the question of WHEN to tell people. I am of the opinion that the 3 month rule is a stupid one. Mainly because anyone that knows me well, also knows I’m pregnant the first time I say “I’m not drinking tonight.” That aside, the 3 month rule leads any long suffering puker to have to suffer in silence. For the first 3 months what they really want to do is get as much sympathy as possible as they deal with (what feels like) the worst hangover they ever had in their life. One that no carbohydrates in the world can make better. Any men still listening to this.. you are having to deal with the worst individual you ever lived with and nothing you can do can ever be good enough unless you too are puking at the same rate. Don’t get drunk to try to achieve this. At least don’t be around when you do this. It doesn’t help.

6. Readiness: Getting people ready to adapt to the changes, by ensuring they have the right information, training and help.

So there are a number of people to get ready for this change that you are about to embark upon. Sorry.. let me rephrase.. A change that will happen to you. But the two people who are never made ready are the parents. Dads are not put into an SAS style, sleep deprivation setting that prepares them for just 4hrs sleep a night. They aren’t taught how to follow this up with a 4hr conference call across 4 time zones with people who think the words “plucking the low hanging fruit” are acceptable phrases in polite society.

And mum..

The new mum is not prepared for the biggest change of her working life. She was pregnant yesterday but at least she was still a teacher/lawyer/CEO/banker/entrepreneur/social work/ nurse/ doctor/ business analyst/ scientist/ blogger.

Now she isn’t pregnant anymore. But she isn’t the above anymore either. Instead she is a cleaner, cook, nursery teacher, swimming instructor, bottom wiper, nose wiper, poo sniffer, expert stain remover and her partner in crime is the worse deputy that ever lived. He hasn’t been on any bloody courses either!

But they are also both overwhelmed, amazed, blown away and happy beyond words. Love will sweep them up and take them on a roller coaster ride of epic proportions. No matter what. They will be

But if anyone had painted this particular picture for them – they wouldn’t be able to truly enjoy it. A paradise promised by a brochure is not half as sweet as the one we just happen upon.

Now, my major stakeholder is calling me. Best get off to see what she wants..

Investment Management, Negotiation, Product Management, Project Management, Project Office, Stakeholder Management

Plagued by Seagulls


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Looking out onto the Cornish coast this morning I was having a lovely relaxing time. Then the gulls came..

Apologies if there are any gull lovers out there but for me these creatures are pretty awful. Ever since one nicked my cheesecake next to the Sydney Opera House I’ve never quite forgiven them as a species. They have circled me menacingly and dive-bombed me in a Kayak. They have kept me awake at 4am with their incessant child-like wailing. They have deposited the unthinkable over my lovely new coat. They are something I could live without. However, they are there and I do unfortunately, have to live with them.

But why are seagulls relevant to delivery management?

The seagull is the person who circles overhead or stalks you on the ground. For some reason your project is both enticing and toxic to them. They poop from on high over your delivery efforts or else they just peck at your feet. Either way dealing with Sea Gulls on a project is irritating and tricky.

Pellet guns are not allowed

As tempting as it may be, shooting Seagulls is illegal. Likewise on a project that option is not the best to pursue and may indeed get you fired.

So what is the best approach, if circled by a seagull?

Identification

Know your Seagulls. They could be lurking anywhere and strike at any time. The common ones are:

  1. Security experts. They play a vital role and that role involves swooping in when you least expect it.
  2. Technical Architects. Beware not having this person on side. If you break the rules be prepared for the inevitable whitewash of your technical plans.
  3. Finance bods. Less Seagulls and more rug pullers but the effect is the same. If they aren’t bought in they will ruin your delivery plans.
  4. Members of department under-going change. Perhaps the least expected and most prevalent they can undermine a change at the last possible moment leading to certain failure and a possible pecked head. These guys tend to come in pairs.

Don’t

  • Try to get them fired. This may backfire like the pellet gun approach.
  • Avoid them. Ever tried avoiding a Seagull? They don’t get the hint.
  • Feed them. If you are doing a bad job at delivery or stakeholder management you are doing their job for them. Try not to get distracted or they will nick your cheesecake when you aren’t looking. They may even tell everyone it was theirs to begin with.

Do

  • Involve them as soon as it is practical to do so
  • See their point of view. Seagulls have their own agenda. They are feathering their own nests. How can your project help them? Work it out and see if your agenda can align more with theirs. It may not be possible but worth some thought.
  • Keep them out of pecking distance but make sure you know they aren’t roosting nearby. Keep them in the communication loop and make sure that others know their intentions. Otherwise, they could potentially shoot you out of the water with an argument that disrupts your project entirely.
  • Pre-empt their arguments and prepare your defence.

sunSince I’ve been writing this the Seagulls have gone and the sun has even come out.  Waiting is another option as Seagulls are often on the look out for other threatening projects and their attention can be deflected elsewhere.

Just make sure yours isn’t their focus today and grab a large umbrella if they start losing their proverbial cannons.