To Ponder: Getting Caught D.E.D.

In his 1985 seminal classic Innovation and Entrepreneurship – the legendary Peter F Drucker wrote that entrepreneurship is not a personality trait. Nor are the ‘mom and pop’ small business owners down the road ‘entrepreneurs’.

No, according to Drucker – the entrepreneur is one that searches for change, responds to it and exploits it as an opportunity. They are found everywhere – especially in medium to large organisations.

Now, I don’t know about you, but that sounds an awful lot like a change leader… Monitoring the context, and exploiting the changes to create opportunity.

But, hand on heart, how often are you as a change leader earnestly doing this? How often are you able to get into the strategic macro and monitor the context?

Likely not enough. The vast majority of the people I talk to are caught in the day to day. They are caught D.E.D. (i.e. Deadlines, Expenditure and Deliverables).

There’s a problem there – and it’s that your change isn’t operating in a vacuum.

Any project longer than 6 months will find itself delivering against a context that has changed. Yet D.E.D. thinking will mean that you are so focused on the WHAT that you miss the fact that WHAT you are delivering may no longer be the best fit.

But what can we do? After all, anyone in the thick of delivery knows that it’s difficult to stand up and take a breath. So this week I’ll offer an alternative perspective for you.

Stop trying to find time to elevate up to the ‘strategic macro’ view. Instead, ask yourself:

What can you take from the macro and bring into your day to day management?

To Action: Stop Ignoring 2/3rds of Your Change

Building on the concept of bringing the macro into the day-to-day, let’s focus on one crucial area: your Change Core. That is, the answers to the 3 Valuable Questions:

  • WHY are we doing this?
  • How will we PROVE we achieved the WHY?
  • WHAT exactly are we doing?

(in that order!)

The thing is, these questions are usually asked early in a change’s life… and then.. just.. kind-of forgotten. Especially the first two. WHY and PROOF. Often relegated to the theoretical and complex arena of ‘benefits management’ – both are deemed unnecessary for ongoing monitoring.

The WHAT though – oh that’s apparently the juicy part.

But here’s the thing. If you had 3 children and you took them to the beach with uncertain conditions – would you only watch just one of them? No. Of course not.
Nor should we only watch just one of the core questions once we get towards the uncertainty of delivery.

Contexts change.

Organisational needs change.

Data forecasts change.

Thankfully keeping an eye on all 3 Core areas is not hard to do.

After you figure out your WHY – figure out the conditions that need to remain in place for the WHY to remain valid. Then monitor those conditions.

And as for your PROOFs – embrace the mantra ‘early feedback’ and embed a couple key early indicators into your upfront planning. Monitor trends in those accordingly.

Don’t ignore 2/3rds of your Change Core. Embed your WHY and your PROOFs into your delivery monitoring.

Maybe this is a controversial view, but it seems to me that delivering something worthwhile is (at least!) equally important to delivering on budget or on time.