What do a wine business in Ethiopia, building nuclear submarines and the United Synagogue have in common? “People” I hear you say and that is certainly true. And there is more. People with limited capacity and capability, however motivated and skilled they maybe, however well supported, resourced or led, there are always limits. And much, too much, of those limited resources are focussed on firefighting, on short-term, urgent issues, at the expense of the longer term.
You can’t ignore the fires – even PE ownership doesn’t give you the air cover to do that and even if it did at what cost – ending up so indebted that there is little or no room for manoeuvre. (in fact the threat of breaking covenants can exacerbate the short-term focus)
The often proposed, with fanfare, and started with enthusiasm, ‘solution’ is a change initiative, a new project, (which must be named with the latest management speak fad – so this week it might be an agile or digital transformation, previously it would have been ‘lean’ or simply an improvement programme.) It’s layered on top, uses some dedicated and often some/many part time ‘key’ people – key to understanding the problems and solutions, key to getting things done, key to the current firefighting efforts, and therefore already stretched often beyond their capacity and capability.
And so, the change initiative grinds on or to a halt, claims some ‘paper’ improvements, loses momentum, gets in the way, has the support of very senior management but is at odds with those charged with nearer term delivery – which usually drives financial performance, and often gets subsumed into the next change initiative, again accompanied with much pomp and ceremony and the cycle continues.
The solution – a corkscrew approach.
To find out more await eagerly with baited breath the next words of wisdom to appear here or for those more impatient contact me directly or via www.businessbrain4hire.com