In any successful change effort, there are three general stages: (1) design and planning, (2) implementation and (3) review or evaluation. For simplicity, let’s assume the design and planning is strategic and reflects on a clearly framed challenge that’s commonly understood. And, that routine review occurs so feedback for adaptation is assured. Then, let’s point our attention at implementation.
Why does implementation matter? Because the choice to commit resources has significant opportunity cost, and its quality is directly connected to both progress and the ultimate impact. Research indicates that those organizations with strong implementation capabilities are nearly five times more likely to generate successful change. This raises important questions about an organization’s implementation capabilities and practices.
High quality implementation relies on vital practices. They include:
Prioritization & Planning. Strong choices along with great plans are made, widely known and get consistent focus.
Ownership & Commitment. Individuals and teams have cited responsibilities and are passionate about achievement.
Accountability. Results as well as progress are connected to people with both incentives and sanctions. There is urgency – a compelling forward momentum generated by deadlines and other time sensitive pressures.
Effective Program/Project Management. A standard set of actions and attitudes supports work routines. These are integrated with standard cycles and functions of the enterprise.
Sufficient Resources & Capabilities. There are no deficits or limitations in the tools, capital, skills & knowledge essential to responsibilities.
Continuous Improvement. Learning is intentional, improvement is routinely sought and expected.
Sustainability Intent. A long-view, for what serves mission/margin, is present from the start.
Notice sequence in the list above. Carefully chosen priorities comes first for a reason. So, getting those clear (and shared) in your organization is job 1. Then, think about building the seven common practices enterprise-wide. Articulate actions that will systematically develop both the discipline and skills to be sure implementation gets attention. It matters.Without it, changes won’t happen.
-Lisa Wyatt, Ed.D. is chief strategy officer and partner in Phillips Wyatt Knowlton, Inc. PWK is a performance management resource for systems and social change with clients worldwide. Lisa has cross-sector and international experience. She is an author and W.K. Kellogg Leadership Fellow. See: www.pwkinc.com