Strategic Programs: Introducing a radical new model for a wildly successful program

Strategic Programs fail at a spectacular rate.  Companies like McKinsey and PWC put the percentage failure rate as high as 90%. 

Certainly, I’ve never seen this statistic quoted as anything less than 50%. 

So, if we’re being super-optimistic, this means you have a 50/50 chance of a strategic program succeeding.

It doesn’t seem to matter if CEOs have access to the best research, the smartest people, the latest methodologies and technologies. Or that companies spend huge amounts of money on talent acquisition, frameworks and education.  

Even with these immense advantages, at least 50% of programs nosedive.

The odds are these success rates would be totally unacceptable for any other type of strategic investment.  

Let’s be honest, this is a brutal statistic.  And the toll is not just financial. The people working hard on these programs end up demoralised and feeling responsible. Individual and corporate reputations are shattered. 

A radical, game-changing cure for strategic program success is finally here  

Every executive has a responsibility to put this situation right. Program performances will continue to stagnate unless there is a concerted effort to deal with it.  

With a success rate of only 50%, it is clear program management is a badly neglected management discipline. And, in today’s market, the pressure to reduce execution risk is relentless. 

But the cure is finally here.

Strategic program success with the Mentor Execution Index 

We have developed a program assurance tool   that is radically different from anything seen to date. 

It’s called the Mentor Execution Index (MEI) and it’s a game changer in how clients can manage their strategic transformation programs. 

Executives can now reliably anticipate, solve and cure complex program problems long before they morph into major headaches.

So, if you’re involved in major programs and you want to skyrocket results, the MEI will give you insights you have not seen before. 

What’s more, they’ll give you a head start in leading your company into the premier league of program performers.

Simply put, the MEI creates an accurate picture – a detailed X-Ray – of what is going on in any strategic program.

Using new assessment and data analysis techniques, the MEI combines our proven program expertise with cutting-edge AI to deliver deep insights that lead to staggering improvements.

The barriers to program success have little to do with processes like Prince2, or similar. The truth is: methodologies are simply an entry ticket to better performance. By themselves, they have done little to move the needle, in the past 30 years.

That’s because they don’t deal with the real culprit stopping every program from being a success story – The People Factor. How people think, act and behave. 

Leadership teams need fresh insights on how to strip out deep-rooted group and individual behaviours that block high performance. 

These behaviours pledge no allegiance to anyone. They are there no matter what. 

And this is where the MEI comes in.

MEI- Rooted in experience, driven by science to enable strategic program success

Living through over 100 program turnaround assignments, we discovered the same core issues repeatedly cropped up. 

This “force of nature” phenomenon has been hidden for decades – and it comes in to play no matter what anyone does to try and head it off. 

It took us a while to figure out what was happening – and why. Yet, these experiences gave us enough scar tissue to conclude this can’t go on. Putting an end to senseless let-downs drove the development of this ground-breaking program assurance tool. 

The MEI is forged from these experiences and leverages decades of know-how with the transformative power of data analytics and AI. 

The result is a proactive leadership tool that provides companies with a unique evaluation of the costliest social behaviours on every strategic program. 

Many of these behaviours are due to groupthink* and are seen beneath the surface of every strategic program.

(Groupthink* is a psychological phenomenon that occurs in a group of people, where the desire for harmony in the group, results in unsound decisions-making, without any critical evaluation of the consequences).

Fast accurate insights you can act on immediately

You won’t have to wait long before discovering a potential crunch. You can rapidly find out what’s lurking in the shadows. 

Eight months is the typical incubation period for a chain of predictable critical events to emerge. By then, you’ll probably have spent a lot of time putting out fires. And you may already have committed extra millions trying to prevent the blaze from spreading. 

The MEI can be used at any stage in a program’s lifecycle – although companies are using it more now as a pre-mortem, from the start.  

This means, a company can get to grips with situations at the outset, rather than responding to them after they’ve happened. 

Being in the driving seat with a pre-mortem is better, by far, than dealing with a post-mortem, which only happens when a program is beyond repair. 

Executives want certainty that their programs will succeed every time.

Once you understand how these destructive patterns work together, you can confidently decode and unpack them.

We are entirely confident the MEI will give you a first-rate blueprint for success – but it won’t swing the hammer for you. Your team will have to do the work – and we can help you with that, where necessary.    

An X-Ray of your strategic program  

The assessment is anonymous. It contains 50 questions and is completed online in less than 30 minutes. The respondents are also able to clarify their responses with written comments.

The best part is: the feedback from the assessment – called a Pulse – provides a raw and “unfiltered” view of the state of your program, directly from staff at the coalface. It can also be run with your key suppliers and stakeholders to get an accurate end-to-end picture. 

MEI measures how the program stacks up against the conditions for success in each of the six “balls” (traits) you can’t afford to drop. It all boils down to: alignment, planning, organisation, suppliers/partners, dependencies and culture

View by trait

Dashboard showing participant scores. Applying the aggregation filter provides a view by trait according to the demographics data collected, in this case by department or function. Overlaid with overall scores by trait (6 Balls).

Gap analysis

Dashboard showing the breakdown of assessment results by trait (the 6 Balls) comparing overall results by survey participants, leadership team and providing the Mentor view of where the program needs to score to be successful.

The full analytical read-out is available to the executive team, within a matter of days.

A Pulse can be run at any stage during a program. But it’s best to run one as close to the start as possible. Although many companies also choose to run additional Pulses periodically to track improvements. 

The Structure of Program Execution Problems

Before you can fix a problem, you have to define it and create a vision for what life looks like when it’s been solved.

So, if all strategic programs nosedive for the same core reasons, we can take concrete steps to fix them, before they happen. 

The MEI online evaluation detects recurrent patterns of behaviour. And although we can’t precisely measure individual behaviours, we can calibrate them with responses from other respondents. 

This measurement allows us to produce an instructive composite X-Ray image of the program.

Decoding behaviours, deconstructing and dissolving them is the fundamental presupposition behind the MEI’s success as a program assurance tool. 

Main benefits of the MEI for your strategic program

  1. Information-rich results are fast – available from each Pulse within a week. (Manual health-checks are costly and can take several months to complete).
  2. Results are accurate, actionable and cost effective. For consistency, each respondent answers the same questions. 
  3. The Assessment Report only contains the unvarnished views of participating staff. The report is not summarised or cleansed by external consultants.
  4. The results not only save time and money, but also provide an ironclad roadmap for future program success and excellent performance. 

What should you do now?

Unacceptable strategic program success rates are clearly driven by deep-seated group psychological behaviours. 

This conduct is camouflaged in power struggles, hubris, dogged infighting, vested interests, blind optimism, turf wars, prejudices, resentment, double-talk, intimidation, fear and pseudo-toughness. All of which are hard to spot.

The bottom line is: the domino-effect of these unpredictable behaviours – produces a range of conditions in every program that pretty much guarantees a success rate of 50% or less.   

In the last 30 years, huge industries have grown up around various program methodologies and training products. 

Back then, they were put forward as the silver bullet for curing deep systemic program performance issues. 

It’s very clear today that not much has changed. Industry is still swimming, in vain, against the tide. It’s hard to imagine 50/50 program success rates being celebrated in any field.

It’s time to stop shadowboxing with side-issues and tackle the real concerns. It’s time to stop rolling the dice and hoping for the best. 

It’s time for executive teams to demonstrate strong, hands-on leadership and really get to grips with this formidable challenge. And that is: how to collapse the (apparently acceptable) stranglehold that 50/50 success ratios have on program performance.  

The Mentor Execution Index is an effective fast-acting cure for leaders who make a permanent decision to leave the 50/50 crowd behind. 

Clients tell us the MEI is playing a central role in their journey to success. 

If this rings a bell with you – and you’d be interested to hear how some of our clients’ successes might be relevant to your execution challenges, please email me now on david.hilliard@mentoreurope.com or reach out and contact us.