Kerr On Leadership

Mar 5, 2019

I Did Personality Tests on Some Vision Stories. Here’s What Happened

Anyone who regularly reads my column knows that I’m a big proponent of top leaders’ developing engaging and compelling vision stories about where they intend to lead their organizations in the future.

As compared with the more traditional vision statement, which tends to be blasé and uninspiring, a vision story, which provides rich and vibrant detail about how the organization operates and what it feels like to be a part, serves to inform and stimulate commitment to change on the part of staff members who take the time to read and understand it.

As a person who has worked with countless leadership teams in developing and crafting their vision stories, I often wonder just how the resulting vision is being perceived by those we intend to inform and motivate. I often wonder what the persona is of the organization we’re describing through our vivid visions.

To scratch that itch, I just put a recent client’s vision story to the test.

My firm’s proprietary automated personality test, one we use in our top management coaching, leadership development, and executive search work, was used as a means to analyze the vision story content. Centered on examining the “Big Five” personality traits (i.e., extroversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism), our tool applies linguistic analytics and personality theory to infer the attributes offered in its findings and analysis.

Interestingly, among all of the detailed analysis and data analytics provided, this personality summary was produced:

You are imaginative and motivated.

You are assertive. You have a tendency to take the lead in most situations, and you are seen as a natural leader. You are energetic. You revel in a fast-paced, environment. And you are trusting of others. You expect people to deliver their best effort.

You are driven to overcome obstacles.

You are notably unconcerned with tradition. And you are more interested in charting your own course than following what others have done.

You opt for activities that serve a greater purpose.

This analysis means that if this client’s future company were a person, that person would have, among others, these characteristics: imagination, natural leadership, drive, high trust, and an interest in serving a greater purpose — the very same characteristics that you would want your organization to possess in pursuit of growth and profitability.

Of course, there’s some good news and some bad news that comes from this analysis. The good news is, together with my client, we’ve constructed a vision story that conveys exactly the tone and sentiment that we were aiming to establish. The bad news is there’s a ton of work needed to move the firm, or any organization for that matter, from its current state to the achievement of its vision.

However, this kind of analysis — characterizing how your business is being presented and perceived by others — provides insights and perspective that you might never gather if you don’t venture to discover the persona of your organization.

To close, I will state that I intend to continue to do work in applying linguistics analytics and personality theory in the strategic planning and vision space. I think that combining the two disciplines has groundbreaking potential, and I am convinced that it will lead to meaningful outcomes for any business interested in disrupting its industry and capturing market share.

Note: Contents of this piece was published by on: Feb 12, 2019

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Feb 5, 2019

Why Performance Reviews Based on Individual Efforts Are a Waste of Time

In the final analysis, no one cares about your effort, results are all that really matter in business. That’s why I think Performance Reviews (Based on Individual Effort) are a waste of time. Of course, every company must operate at the highest level of integrity. I’ve written countless articles the topic in this column. I believe that integrity is the bedrock on which a business is built and flourishes.

My point here is simple: your customers and other important stakeholders are not interested in understanding the level of difficulty required to delight them – they just want to be delighted. Delight them and your business grows, disappoint them and your business fails.

The message is clear. We should stop applying metrics that measure individual effort and place an unyielding focus on the establishment of measurements that lead to desired results. As we do, business outcomes will improve. Here is why:

You see, when you start to track desired outcomes (instead of each person’s individual performance), your team will begin to recognize ways to improve its execution. That’s not to say slackers, now, have a place to hide. Rather, staff will learn how to keep one another honest. When they can’t, you will certainly hear about it and that will be your cue to address an individual’s specific behavior.

Here are some steps that you can take to get started in transforming the ways in which you measure performance:


Being in Business Means Being a Difference Maker

It is inherent in the very nature of what you do as a business owner. Learn how different leads to better.

Measure for Outcomes, Not for Outputs

For example, I’m working with a client who has made “do whatever it takes to delight the customer” the overarching goal for everyone in the organization. Consequently, the firm is recasting its metrics to better align with this goal. For instance, a standard measurement like, “the number of complaints handled per month per customer support person” is being replaced with “average time to complaint resolution.”

While subtle, the difference is hugely important. The desired outcome is to resolve customer problems quickly. It is not to handle more complaints in a day. The metric now reflects this fact. Be sure that your metrics reinforces expected outcomes, and doesn’t simply count how much is being accomplished in a workday.

Provide the “Why”

This was critical to achieving the business results that my client was seeking. We had to help staff understand “why” putting the customer first was essential to business growth and maturity. Once the reasons were well understood by her team, my client could encourage her team to participate in identifying the best path to get to the outcomes that mattered most and to devise the right measurements to track achievement.

Let the Performance Measurement System Fade to the Background

Once measures are properly aligned with desired results, the need to use a system to track performance isn’t half as important to improving an individual’s performance as is providing hands-on coaching and additional training and development. So, let the performance system take a backseat. Instead of worrying about filling in the systems tracking forms, encourage your leaders to regularly coach and teach their teams. The performance system can become a place where meaningful leader/staff interaction is recorded for posterity.

To close, measure for results, not performance and you will see your business outcomes improve. Reshaping your performance measurement criteria in this way will not only simplify your performance tracking systems, but will enable the delivery of better business results. For the measurement of a specific individual’s effort is often far more challenging to quantify than the business results by a team.

Note: Content Originally Published on Jan 18, 2019

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Jan 15, 2019

Talent Development 101 – 4 Ways to Create the Next Generation of Leaders at Your Company

Leaders are not developed overnight. Rather, leaders develop competencies across a continuum over time. It takes a commitment to Talent Development. Indeed, leaders mature along a curve based on experiences and the skills and competencies that they develop along the way. That said, it is good business to develop talent continuously so that you establish a pipeline of leaders at various stages of readiness that can take the lead whenever circumstances deem necessary.

Most of my clients have talent development systems of some sort. Most of them do not have leadership development focus, per se. Instead, most in-house training programs offer a curriculum full of one-off skills development offerings, like “How To Be An Active Listener” and “Interactive Presentation Design.” This kind of training has its place, but they do little to prepare the organization for tomorrow’s leadership challenges. A proper leadership development program is needed to ensure businesses don’t come up short when needing to fill leadership positions.

Here are four foundational elements to look for in any leadership development program. Think of these combining to form the four legs of a stool — you need all four of these characteristics to establish a well-rounded leadership development program — skip one and the program may not produce results that you can count on:

1. Data to make better placement decisions.

This is provided through the use of an intense battery of assessments instruments. The data derived from these instruments provides additional insights needed to make better choices in placing future leaders in available positions.

The assessment data also helps the staff, which take them, to better understand where their opportunities for growth and maturity lie; insights that can help them to commit to driving the changes that they need to make to become better leaders.

2. A focus on fundamental leadership competencies.

These are skills participants will cultivate, and practice, enabling them to evolve along their own individualized maturity curve. Done right, staff will maximize their potential to achieve at the ‘next‘ level by better understanding the performance expectations required to excel there.

For example, we have a leadership academy that we bring to clients interested in instituting leader development programs. The backbone of the academy is an entire suite of leadership competency modules, which can be mixed and matched to deliver a tailored experience for each client. Modules focus on such topics as inspiring others, driving resiliency and finding your leadership ethos — all fundamental leadership competencies.

3. Mentorship for staff.

Be sure that your leadership program includes a formal mentor program, where each participant is assigned a senior leader mentor with whom they can meet and discuss key concepts brought out through the training.

My clients, for example, find it is through regular reinforcement and engagement with senior leaders that staff will gain valuable perspective and feedback needed for navigating their own leadership maturity journey. Additionally, mentorship creates powerful networking opportunities that prove useful as new leaders take their positions within the business.

4. Experiential learning.

Your leadership program should be rich with experiential learning elements. You want your people to learn how to be more vulnerable and open with one another so they gain mutual respect and trust. After all, since these will be the people leading the company, it is important that they trust each other.

Clearly, a compelling case can be made for the need to extend the leadership continuum of any business with the provision of ongoing leader development. By combining the elements outlined above in forging your leadership development program, you can ensure that the next generation of leader in your company is ready to assume the helm.

NOTE: Content was originally published by on: Oct 3, 2018

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Oct 6, 2018

Leadership Cop-Outs: Top 10 List

Here are 10 ways leaders justify not providing the leadership needed to propel their organizations forward.

Organizations tend to take on the very likenesses of their leadership team. Find a firm that is resolute and steadfast in their pursuit of perfection and you’ll find leaders that are unyielding and firm in their insistence on excellence in all that is done. Similarly, a company that is sloppy and inconsistent in their service delivery and you will find leaders that accept sub-par performance.

Why do some leadership teams operate this way? It’s a phenomenon that I see quite often in my work as a leadership coach and management consultant. When hired to help fix a leadership problem, inevitably we find that leaders choose to justify their lazy or haphazard leadership practices with a wide-variety of excuses.

Here are 10 of my all-time favorite leadership cop-outs:

  1. I don’t need to understand the details; I expect them to know their stuff. You want leaders that are sincerely interested at the work at hand and can inspire their team to be routinely raising the bar.
  2. Who needs a vision? My vision is to make money. You want leaders who understand the need for, and are comfortable articulating, a vivid and compelling vision story – one that gives people something to aspire to.
  3. I paid my dues. I don’t need to spend time dealing with irate customers. You want leaders that put the customer first and have the poise and confidence to be effective in all circumstances.
  4. I’m all for taking short-cuts, if the situation warrants it. You want leaders of high integrity and model the kinds of behaviors that you expect from your team.
  5. The work is boring. I’m not going to motivate people here. You want leaders that people want to work for and with.
  6. My people know what they’re doing. Why should I get involved? You want leaders that are always pushing their people to be better.
  7. My staff knows what I expect. You want leaders that can communicate effectively, so that there is no doubt about what is important.
  8. I expect my team to reach-out to me if they need something. You want leaders that are involved and connected to the people that they lead.
  9. They don’t need me to give them compliments. We already have the best comp package in the industry. You want leaders that recognize talent and reward people based on results, and, not on effort or out of favoritism.
  10. I don’t have the time to bring everyone up-to-speed.  You want leaders that can teach people how to be the best that they can be.

To close, these 10 cop-outs are heard from leaders all the time. If you ever find yourself using any of them, please take a moment and re-calibrate your thinking. It’s precisely at the moment that you find yourself making an excuse that your people likely need your leadership the most.

If you need some help getting the “right” leadership culture in place, please reach out to me. We have some tried and true approaches that will get your organization right back on track.

Note: This article’s content was originally published by Inc. on April 24, 2018  

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Oct 24, 2017

Free Advice For Uber’s New CEO

With board-level voting rights on equal footing, it’s time for it’s CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, to lead the firm to a new tomorrow

In June, under immense pressure from incensed investors who didn’t take kindly to Uber’s unrestrained “Bro” culture, Travis Kalanick stepped down as its CEO. Able to retain his seat on the firm’s 11-member board, Kalanick was able to maintain extra voting power granted him in the Company’s original by-laws. This extra voting power could have been used to help him to control the company’s future direction. But, last week Uber’s board voted to shred that extra voting power – putting every board member’s vote on an equal footing.

Clearly, the company isn’t out of the woods, yet. Just last month, London city officials said they would not renew the company’s license because of the Company’s lack of corporate responsibility. Clearly, Kalanick’s successor, Dara Khosrowshahi has his hands full as he charts a course for the future while working to overhaul Uber’s sad corporate reputation and internal company culture.

As a guy who has made his living for over 30 years helping executives to transform their company cultures, I am compelled to share some free advice with Uber’s new CEO. While the ideas are by no means earth shattering, they are fundamental to driving the kind of sea-level change needed at Uber:

  1. New Leaders need to create and share a vivid and compelling vision in order to engage and inspire their organizations.
  2. An outside-in perspective can inform what the “new normal” can and should be. Seeing the world from the viewpoint of those that an organization serves will enable break-through thinking and lead to the delivery of exceptional products and services.
  3. Communication is the key to engagement. Your people need to know where you are, what you want and how you expect them to get there.
  4. Be sure to put the right kinds of communication mechanisms in place to keep your staff properly informed. How can you expect solid communication, if you don’t enable it through the implementation of the necessary tools and devices?
  5. Being “in it together” is the only way to drive widespread transformation. People want to be part of something bigger than them. Make a “cause” out of your transformation effort by helping people understand what’s in it for them and they will pull together to make it happen.
  6. Measure results, not effort to change behavior. It doesn’t matter how much effort one expels to achieve success. It’s the success that matters. Measure outcomes and people will change their individual behaviors as necessary to achieve the results expected.
  7. Consider the next generation of employee as you imagine the future. You must take into account the values and expectations of the next generation of employee in order to ensure that you crafted a culture that will attract and retain the talent you need to achieve your vision. If you don’t someone else will!
  8. An active leadership style enables you to know when to “push” and when to step back and observe. You don’t always need to be in the front of the room – that kind of behavior can stifle the growth and maturity of your staff. Rather, be involved and understand exactly what your team needs from you in order for them to be successful.

To close, there’s no doubt that Mr. Khosrowshahi has quite a challenge ahead of him at Uber. But, by all accounts, he’s up for the task. But, of course, he doesn’t have to take the journey alone. There are people out there that can help (and would welcome the challenge of rolling up their sleeves, right beside him) to do the work needed to put Uber back on track. If you think that your company could use a company culture overhaul please reach out.

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Aug 20, 2017

How to Become a Leader’s Leader

Here’s a leadership self-assessment worth taking to discover where you sit as a leader

The 20 questions that comprise this diagnostic are organized across 4 unique dimensions – Personality, Proficiencies, People and Presence. I call it the “4Ps Leadership Snapshot.” The assessment is quite easy to administer. While this survey can be leveraged in a variety of ways, including within a “360-evaluation” format, by reporting-line manager to subordinates, or simply used as an interview script by a hiring manager / hiring committee, it’s worth taking on your own to identify your leadership strengths as well as to recognize some areas for improvement.

The scale that you use is up to you. High, Medium and Low works just fine. But, you can spruce it up to any way you like using a numbered and / or a weighted scale as you see fit. Regardless, take it and it will give you a snapshot of where you are as a leader and will provide a perspective on where you can work to do better.

The 4Ps Leadership Assessment Snapshot:

Personality – How you’re wired.

1. Inquisitiveness: Is curious and interested in new ways of “thinking” and “doing”

2. Resolve: Has a willingness to push against status quo and maintains convictions to drive needed change

3. Emotional Intellect: Makes time to know and truly care about other people and their concerns and aspirations

4. Vitality: Is energetic and passionate about business and its evolution

5. Initiative: Is sincerely interested in producing new content that shapes new ways of thinking and doing

Proficiencies – What you do well.

6. C-Suite Impact: Possesses advanced consulting & advisory skills that have influenced action at the senior client executive level

7. Market Expertise: Is knowledgeable and is current on industry trends, disruptions, needs and can translate that understanding into big ideas that create value

8. Value Proposition Positioning: Has the ability to demonstrate how to solve client challenges within a senior leadership setting.

9. Communication: Is an outstanding communicator, skilled at messaging in both verbal and written form.

10. Teaching: Can demystify complex concepts for improving client executive understanding of them

People – How you get the best out of others.

11. Relationship-Building: Is exceptional at developing new relationships based on trust and confidence

12. Team-Building: Actively develops the capabilities of their team by leveraging the strengths and aptitudes of its individual members

13. Community-Building: Fosters an environment for sharing and developing ideas among their teams that can be used to extend market reach and industry influence

14. Coaching and Feedback: Is committed to providing advice and feedback to team members that enables improvement in individual performance

15. Diplomacy: Able to achieve desired outcomes through negotiation and tact

Presence – Your ability to generate respect and project confidence.

16. Executive Authority: Has exhibited Board and C Suite executive presence and is comfortable leading at that level of an organization

17. Results Influencing: Demonstrated ability of translating big ideas into differentiated product and service offerings

18. Market Presence: Highly credible and influential within the industry

19. Business Building: Track record of driving new net business into their organizations

20. Talent Development: Has the ability to attract, develop, retain and leverage superstar talent.

To close, my firm’s use of this diagnostic indicates that there is a high correlation between the archetype leadership attributes brought forward in the 4P Leadership Snapshot and success as a leader. While self-assessments can be skewed (some people tend to grade themselves uncompromisingly, while others are more apt to be soft graders when it comes to evaluating one’s own performance), this tool should still be able to help you to see what you do well and where you need some work. As always, if you’d like to some assistance in bringing this type of diagnostic to your organization, please reach out. And I’ll work with you on How to Become a Leader’s Leader

NOTE: This piece was originally published by Inc. on June 19, 2017.

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Jun 2, 2017

How A Leadership Fable Makes You a Better Leader

Read a leadership fable if you don’t want to be overburdened with heavy business jargon and over-complicated management ideas

Can a leadership fable make you a better leader? The short answer is Yes! If you don’t want to be overburdened with heavy business jargon and advanced management concepts, a fable can make you a better leader. Consider these management fables:

The Servant

by James C. Hunter

Crafts a tale about a Monk and a businessman to help the reader learn how leadership is about serving those you lead.

Who Moved My Cheese

by Spencer Johnson with Kenneth Blanchard

Presents a story of mice in a maze to drive home the point that attitude matters most in times of great transition.

Our Iceberg Is Melting

by John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber

Employs penguins on an iceberg as a device to suggest an approach to manage change.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

by Patrick Lencioni

Uses a fictitious CEO to help the reader learn how to overcome obstacles to success.

Each of these books offers great advice through vivid storytelling and easy-to-read and easy-to-relate-to narrative.

Indeed, fables can simplify what textbooks make complex. This style of storytelling can be particularly valuable for young professionals who are early in their leadership careers as well as everyday people who just want to be better leaders in their personal life.

That’s why I wrote, It’s Good To Be King.

I wanted to simplify the message so that leaders of all kinds — whether in business or in the community — can learn and become exceptional leaders. In fact, the book contains over 60 leadership tips which summarized for easy consumption and quick reference at the end of each chapter.

Here is a small sample of the kinds of tips that you’ll find in It’s Good To Be King:

1. New Leaders need to create and share a vivid and compelling vision in order to engage and inspire their people.

2. An “outside-in perspective” can inform what the “new normal” can and should be. Seeing the world from the viewpoint of those that an organization (or the group) serves will enable breakthrough thinking and lead to the delivery of exceptional results.

3. Communication is the key to engagement. Your people need to know where you are, what you want and how you expect them to get there. Be sure to put the right kinds of communication mechanisms in place to keep your group properly informed.

4. It’s almost never too late to right the ship. Even when the situation looks dire and the challenges insurmountable, there may be a path to success that can be discovered through creative thought and perseverance.

5. Taskmasters will devastate self-starters and those with the aspiration to contribute within a collaborative work setting.

6. Being “in it together” is the only way to drive widespread change. People want to be part of something bigger than them. Make a “cause” out of your transformation effort by helping people understand what’s in it for them and they will pull together to make it happen.

To close, regardless of the context in which you lead – at work, in the community, where you volunteer–a fable can make you a better leader. Pick one up, read it and you’ll surely agree!

 Note: This piece was originally published by Inc. on May 8, 2017.
May 15, 2017

James Kerr Asks: So, You Want to Be a Disruptor?

Here are some key questions to answer that can enable the breakthrough thinking needed to re-imagine your products, services and industry

James Kerr asks: “Mesmerized by industry innovators like Google, Apple and Uber, do business leaders of all sorts want to become “disruptors” within their respective industries?” Easier said than done!

Interestingly, the key to unlocking the kind of breakthrough thinking needed to support an aggressive agenda of innovation lies with the leadership and culture of the organization. These are the only elements that can be leveraged to differentiate a firm from its competitors and enable the possibilities required to disrupt an industry.

Why does it come down to leadership and culture? The answer is simple, leadership drives behavior, behavior establishes culture. It’s that simple! So, here are some basic questions to begin to ask yourself about your organization. The answers to these questions will establish the platform from which to disrupt.

On Leadership

1. What are the leader attributes required to drive transformation to achieve your Vision?

2. Which of the attributes do you believe are strengths among your mid-tier management?

3. Which of the attributes do you believe are weaknesses among your Leaders? How would you begin to transform the weaknesses into strengths?

On Culture

1. How is the current culture (beliefs, behaviors, assumptions) facilitating or hindering movement of your teams towards achieving transformation objectives?

2. How are definitions of responsibility, decision-making, and structure facilitating or hindering movement of your teams towards your Vision?

3. How do you navigate competing internal priorities and drive innovation?

On Transformation and Change

1. Do you feel your organization is agile enough to be competitive? Can you move at the speed required to drive change with velocity? If not what needs to be done to increase agility?

2. What is your approach to drive transformation for enhancing the customer experience?

3. What is your strategy to move your team to optimize its interactions with its internal customers?

On Talent and Development

1. Do you think that attracting, inspiring, retaining and deploying top talent is a priority for the firm? What are you doing to facilitate that?

2. How do you develop your team, engage and develop junior levels, show you care?

3. How do you mentor staff to build high performing and diverse teams?

On Client Relationship, Opportunities and Innovation

1. How do you innovate at the firm?

2. How does the firm influence its industry? What more should be done?

3. How do you inspire entrepreneurial thinking and behavior?

On Breaking the Current Paradigm

1. What 3 things should the firm stop doing to enable to achieve your vision?

2. What 3 things should firm do to enable its leaders to accomplish transformation objectives?

3. What keeps you up at night when thinking about the state of your organization? What are you doing about addressing those concerns?

To close, it is important to recognize that these questions are only the beginning for your journey towards creating a culture that can innovate and disrupt. The “fun” begins when an organization commences the hard work to transform. As always, please reach out to me directly if you would like a sounding board to assist you in your efforts.

NOTE: This piece was published by Inc. on March 27, 2017.

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Apr 4, 2017

10 Tips for Everyday Leaders – From It’s Good To Be King

Here are 10 leadership tips derived from my latest book

My latest book, It’s Good To Be King, just came out last week.

If you read it, it will help you to become a better leader.

If you’re a regular reader of my column, you already know that I aim to demystify what many management gurus make complex. This book is no exception. But, it is a departure from my standard fare.

It’s Good To Be King, is a leadership fable. In fact, you may want to consider it a bedtime story for modern day leaders. It is intended to be read and enjoyed by all kinds of leaders, including those who lead others in business, their communities, places of worship and volunteer organizations.

At the end of each chapter, I include some highlights (or takeaways) that you can derive from the allegorical story. There are over 60 tips intended to help everyday leaders. Here are 10 Tips for Everyday Leaders that you’ll find in the book:

1. Leadership makes or breaks every group and organization. Even prosperous enterprises cannot afford to rely on past success to assure enduring achievement.

2. Sometimes the need to lead is thrust upon you. When this happens, you have a choice: rise to the occasion or let someone else take charge and live with the consequences of that decision. Either way, a leadership void will always be filled.

3. Dedicate yourself to being open to learn new things. Sometimes leaders forget how to listen and learn. Don’t fall into that trap. You don’t have to have all of the answers all of the time.

4. Welcome those who can coach and teach. Even world-class athletes have coaches. Surround yourself with people who can make you better. Stated another way, accept your Yoda!

5. A foolish student laughs at knowledge. Begin to look backwards to inform your outlook for the future.

6. Gain a full understanding of where your organization or group is today and how it got there, so that you can define a path forward that is right for the current situation.

7. Leadership styles don’t discriminate. Poor leaders come in many shapes and sizes. Regardless of appearance, a poor leader will wreak havoc on any group or organization of which they are allowed to lead.

8. Deceitful leaders will destroy all trust within an enterprise or group. Once trust deteriorates, the culture becomes cut-throat as each team member begins to only focus on their own selfish interests.

9. Narcissistic leaders will ruin any esprit de corps that exists within a group. When the sense that we’re all “in this together” disappears, the best, most capable staff members begin to disappear, too.

10. The most talented among us want to be part of a team that shares the wealth. Be sure to the kind of leader that shares credit and promotes their team.

To close, this is just a small taste of the kinds of stuff that you’ll get out of the fable that underpins It’s Good To Be King. If you lead others, in any capacity, you will get something out of the book. It’s an easy and enjoyable read – one that I hope delights and enlightens. If you do grab a copy, please let me know what you think of it. Your feedback is sure to inform what I write about here.

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Mar 2, 2017

How to Manage Business Transformation and Keep Your Sanity

Transformation work should be managed as a portfolio of projects and programs

Transforming a business is a lot like changing the tires on a truck while it is slamming down the highway at 90 miles an hour. The business world doesn’t stop just because you need to optimize your operations. No, your business still needs to be able to quickly respond to customer demands with high quality service delivery even when it’s in the midst of great transformation.

In fact, your business must be positioned to implement new capabilities and modify operations on a dime, regardless of what is going on behind the scenes. But, during times of significant change, it is not unusual for work (particularly that which crosses organizational boundaries) to get “hung-up” by resource constraints and political red tape. After all, no one wants to be the one that winds up with the short end of the stick!

How to Manage Business Transformation and Keep Your Sanity?

Clearly, organizing work into a portfolio of projects and programs reduces the obstacles to quick response by offering a different perspective on the way transformation results are achieved. Resource issues and ownership challenges are resolved during the project planning stage, when the executive leadership is present and involved in priority-setting and project sourcing. Done right, transformation project teams will be cross-functional in structure and share common “team-based” goals.

Of course, there are implications for driving change in this way, including:

1. An awareness program will be necessary to expose all of the firm’s personnel to this new way of organizing and performing transformation work within the business. Indeed, the approach will need to be demystified in order to eliminate any possibility of misinterpretations or perception of threat.

2. Portfolio-Based Project Management “Next Practices” must be selected and put into place in order to ensure the smooth implementation of this concept. You will want to be sure that the best approaches to transformation are being adopted to ensure the best possible results.

3. Staff must be properly trained in project management (and their role in project team participation). Like any new skill, your team will need to be taught the basics before you can expect them to perform.

4. The business should be deliberate in establishing a common project management language. In this way, your people won’t miss a beat as the concepts are being institutionalized.

5. Once in place, project management skills must be further developed and nurtured in order to fully realize the potential of this transformation management approach. Indeed, it just the beginning of this new philosophy. So, be prepared to continue to educate and coach.

To close, this new transformation model represents a dramatic departure for most businesses in the way in which the work environment is optimized (i.e., most businesses are organized by function and it is those functional boundaries that dictate the way that work is partitioned, assigned and adjusted over time). But, managing your transformation as a portfolio of projects may be the best way to drive change, while maintaining your sanity.

As always, please feel free to continue to drive the discussion by offering your ideas and comments below or reach-out to me directly. It’s an important topic that deserves more attention.

Copyright 2019 James M. Kerr       info@executive‑       800‑944‑4662