Thursday, September 22, 2005

Outcome v output

Part of the new piece of work I'm involved in is working on a conference. It will be the first opportunity to share some key decisions on the proposed transformation project and, as such, is a key milestone.

However, there are some rather loud warning bells a-ringing. First, the conference is being planned off the side of the desk by a person with no communication background and little comms interest. All she's focused on is getting an event organised: another box ticked. The date for the conference has been set - but doesn't square with the programme's timeline - to the extent that some of the key decisions won't have been made. Why has the date been set? Because that's when the HR director decreed it would be. The agenda has also been set - including a very touchy-feely session around how people feel about the change. Well, how the f*ck are they supposed to feel? In a change situation, all people are interested in is what it means to them. They'll want to know what the new structure is; where they fit in it; how they'll get from today to the new organisation and how long that's going to take. These guys want to know how they'll be assessed for the new roles and what they need to do next. At the moment the agenda covers only the new structure - not where anyone fits within it or how they will make the transition from one to the other - nor what support is planned for those who won't make that transition.

There's no opportunity for teams to get together at the event to discuss what it means for them or to question the leadership team. In fact, the leadership team have no plans to articulate just how they'll be leading this change.

Finally there's no follow-through. This is seen as an event and not part of a process. It's happening because it's due to happen and at present, no follow-up is planned.

Just by announcing the conference, the leadership team has raised expectations. Their present take on the day is a damp squib. It will murder those expectations and could put the programme back weeks if not months. Fortunately we've got several weeks to turn the situation around. There's huge opportunity here - if the leadership team is brave enough to focus not on an 'output' - a one day event, but on turning that event on its head.

We need to be focusing on the outcome - what is it that the leadership team want to achieve and how best can they use the conference - the chance to get the 200 people at the heart of transformation together.

If we can move their thinking on to defining desired outcomes and success factors and then build back from there, we can gain some real benefit from bringing these people together.

No comments: