Disruption Should Never Sneak Up on You

How to execute strategy transformation programs in the “death zone”.

Most programs have failure designed in

We’ve spent the past 30 years helping companies to put misfiring programs back on track. We get called in when things have gone wrong.

Yet, in every case, these shock waves could have been avoided.

Most programs have failure “designed-in.” And the executives ultimately responsible for their success know this. Even if they aren’t keen to acknowledge it.

Chances are they’ve had their fingers burnt on previous strategic execution projects.

Yet, they’re in denial that any disruption has occurred. It’s human nature.

Late delivery – and blowing the budget – is usually priced in and accepted as the norm. It’s just a matter of degree. When it comes to strategy transformation, success has been redefined on a scale of failure.

“We were only x months late and £y over budget.”

So will it be different this time?

Companies and individuals operate outside their areas of competence

The fact is these big, complex strategic programs take companies and individuals way outside their areas of competence. The people running them may be great at “business as usual”.

But these programs are exceptionally complex and have usually never been seen before.

There’s no accurate baseline that can be used as a reliable template. If there were, we wouldn’t have so many Crossrail’s.

Ready for the death zone

Climbing Everest may be an overused analogy. But it demonstrates my point well.

Pretty much anyone can get to base camp. This is considered “business as usual”.

If you want to go higher, you’ll need careful planning, a great team, specialist advice and specific tools.

The higher you go, the more complex and challenging it becomes.

In the “death zone” at over 20,000 ft, you won’t survive for more than 2 hours, unless you’re properly equipped. So, you’d better make sure everything is in place to get to the summit.

You know failure is inevitable if you don’t, with potential catastrophic consequences. That’s definitely not “business as usual”. Ask any mountaineer.

The “death zone” is where business transformation programs operate. And yet executives set about executing these massively important strategic projects, as if they are business as usual.

And then seem surprised when things don’t go to plan.

It’s time to take a different approach

So, my plea is to recognise strategic programs for what they are.

Don’t bury your head in the sand and expect a different outcome. Take a different approach.

Bring in experts that have operated successfully in the “death zone.” Set up a specialist team. Equip them with the right tools. Inspire them with great leadership.

That way you’ll set yourself up for program success.

Something I’d be prepared to guarantee.

If you’d like to find out more about guaranteeing your strategic program’s success, please email me now on david.hilliard@mentoreurope.com or call 07860 222282.