Project Sponsorship

There are multiple aspects that contribute to a successful project, for example the right people, proper planning, governance, clear roles and responsibilities, but to mention a few. You could argue all equally important but one of the most important aspects that are often overlooked is the position of the Project Sponsor.

In my experience, the Sponsor holds one of the most important roles in terms of project success or failure. An involved sponsor who really is vested in the success of the project, will bring drive and energy to the project at a senior executive level – especially needed when the going gets tough.

The Project Sponsor takes ownership for the project goals, provides overall direction for the project and is the owner of the final product/deliverable.

Project Sponsor – Definition

In PRINCE2 it is not a defined role. PRINCE2 separately defines the “Project Executive” and the “Senior User” – two of the three core elements of the Project Board. For simpler projects these roles may well be combined and this then aligns closely with the general usage of the term Project Sponsor.

The APM Body of Knowledge characterises the Project Sponsor as the individual for whom the project is undertaken and who is the primary risk taker. The Sponsor is a member of the Steering Group which provides strategic direction and will include senior managers and, sometimes, key stakeholders.

The PMI PMBOK Guide talks about project sponsors and project initiators: the project initiator authorises the initiation of a project and the project sponsor provides the financial resources, in cash or in kind for the project. Again, these roles may often be assumed by a single individual.

Who can be a Project Sponsor

It is unusual for Project Sponsors to be full time project professionals. It is more likely that they are drawn from the management team of the business – perhaps as an interested “user”. For major projects it may be the CEO or CIO which assumes the role of Sponsor. It is preferable that the individual brings relevant experience and wields the authority and organisational ability to make things happen.

A sponsor needs to be:

  • a business leader and decision-maker with the credibility to work across corporate and functional boundaries;
  • an enthusiastic advocate of the work and the change it brings about;
  • prepared to commit time and support to the role;
  • sufficiently experienced in P3 to judge if the work is being managed effectively and to challenge P3 managers where appropriate.

Project Sponsor vs Other Project Roles

Project Sponsor vs. Project Owner

The project sponsor is a person.  The project owner is the organization that performs the project and receives its deliverables.  Normally the project sponsor is employed by the project owner organisation.

Project Sponsor vs. Project Manager

The project sponsor is one (and only one) level above the project manager.  While the project manager is responsible for the day to day operations of the project, the project sponsor seeks to promote the project to keep it high on the priority list, ensures the resources are in place to perform the project, and approves changes to the project.

Project Sponsor Project Manager
Day to Day management of project work No Yes
Project Deliverables Accepts Produces
Funding Approves Requests

The two main differences between project sponsorship and project management 

    1. Project sponsorship includes the identification and definition of the project whereas project management is concerned with delivering a project that is already defined, if only quite loosely.
    2. The project sponsor is responsible for the project’s business case and should not hesitate to recommend cancellation of the project if the business case no longer justifies the project.

Quick look at Other Project Roles:

    • Project Manager:  Responsible for the day to day project work, keeping the project on schedule and budget.  They report to the Project Sponsor.
    • Project Team:  The people who perform the technical project work and produce the deliverables.  They report to the project manager.
    • Customers/Users:  The people who use the project deliverables to improve their lives or work.  They are sometimes involved directly within the project in the form of focus groups or test subjects.
    • Vendors:  The people and organizations the project procures to provide products and/or services to fill technical gaps in the project team’s knowledge or ability, or to enhance the quality of the final product.
    • Business Partners:  The people or organizations that the project owner partners with to fulfill a specific role like installation, training or support.
    • Functional Managers:  The managers of technical groups (departments) within the owner organization, who often supply technical expertise to the project.
    • External Stakeholders:  Most project have stakeholders who are affected by the project, like government regulatory agencies, adjacent landowners, and the like.

Sponsor Responsibilities

The role of project sponsor is critical to ensuring the success of projects – therefore, when initiating a new project, you need to define the project sponsor taking into account the importance of project sponsorship. A project sponsor is to be involved from project initiation to project end. They represent the business side of the project.  They were probably involved when the project was being conceived and advocated for its inception before a project manager was assigned.

Further the sponsor is critical to strategic planning, high project sustainability, and successful implementation of project objectives. The role of project sponsor covers the financial and organizational responsibilities and activities that are directed to quick and decisive governance of the project.

The project sponsor is one, and only one, level above the project manager.  They do not manage the day to day operations of the project but they ensure the resources are in place, promote the project, and hold overall responsibility for the project’s success.

A good sponsor performs different functions during the project life cycle, serving as mentor, catalyst, motivator, barrier buster, and boundary manager. Most of the sponsor responsibilities are covered below:

  • The sponsor is the link between the project manager and senior managers, lead negotiations to gain and ensure stakeholder consensus.
  • Champion/Promotion: The project sponsor is the best ‘project seller’ that champions the project thought the business. The sponsor promotes and defends the project in front of all other stakeholders. They are the project champion that attempts to keep the project at the highest priority within the organisation.
  • Informing:  They receive project status updates from the project manager and disseminate the information to the relevant executives.
  • Project Charter:  This document officially creates the project and assigns the project manager.  It falls directly within the project sponsor’s responsibility.
  • Authorisation: They authorise the project and assign the project manager. They approve the project management plan and are kept aware of how the project is managed.
  • Scoping:  They are generally responsible for determining the initial project scope, although the project manager is ultimately responsible for the official project scope within the project management plan.
  • Goals: The Sponsor should ensure that the business need is valid and correctly prioritised within the project.
  • Communication: Clearly communicate on aspects of the project with stakeholder groups and senior management.
  • Keeping to Schedule: The Sponsor is heavily involved in ensuring that the project is kept to the original schedule along with the Project Manager. In order to manage the schedule the Sponsor and Project Manager should meet frequently and review the timeline.
  • Changes: A project can experience changes at any time. The Sponsor needs to ensure that these changes are properly managed to ensure that they don’t have any negative impact on the project.
  • Resolve Risks & Issues: Some issues are out of the reach of the Project Manager such as decisions on changes and conflicting objectives. The Sponsor takes control of these issues and ensures that they are solved efficiently and effectively.
  • Support: The Project Manager needs consistent support during a project. The Sponsor is on hand to provide this support in the form of mentoring, coaching and leadership. The Sponsor also supports the Project Team especially in terms of scope clarification, progress management and guidance.
  • Reporting: Assistance for the PM with appraisal and reporting.
  • Funding: They are responsible for negotiations to ensure funding is in place and approving changes to the project budget.
  • Leadership: Provide direction and guidance for project empowerment, key business strategies and project initiatives.
  • ROI & Benefits: As owner of the business case, the project sponsor is responsible for qualifying and overseeing the delivery of the benefits (the benefits realisation) as well as to identify project critical success factors and approve deliverables.
  • Identify members of Steering Committee and chair these Steerco meetings.
  • Involve stakeholders in the project and maintain their ongoing commitment to the project through using communication strategies and project management planning methods
  • Receiving:  Evaluate the project’s success on completion – The project sponsor receives the project deliverables from the project manager, approves them, and integrates them into the owner organization.

According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), the project sponsor role can be broken into three parts: vision, governance and value or benefits realization. They break those down in the following way:

Vision

    • Makes sure the business case is valid and in step with the business propositio
    • Aligns project with business strategy, goals and objective
    • Stays informed of project events to keep project viable
    • Defines the criteria for project success and how it fits with the overall business

Governance

    • Ensures project is properly launched and initiated
    • Maintains organizational priorities throughout project
    • Offers support for project organization
    • Defines project roles and reporting structure
    • Acts as an escalation point for issues when something is beyond the project manager’s control
    • Gets financial resources
    • Decision-maker for progress and phases of project

Values & Benefits

    • Makes sure that risks and changes are managed
    • Helps to ensure control and review processes
    • Oversees delivery of project value
    • Evaluates status and progress
    • Approves deliverables
    • Helps with decision-making
    • Responsible for project quality throughout project phases

Common reasons why the Sponsor lets down the project:

Many organisations invest heavily in project management training but are blind to the benefits of having project leaders who truly understand how projects differ from other management activities. Business are letting a project down if the sponsor:

    • is reassignment in the organisation, or distraction by other priorities.
    • is micro managing which can disrupt project manager confidence and authority.
    • fails to understand the project process and responsibilities.

The chances are that if an inappropriate project sponsor has been chosen,

    • the effectiveness of the role is reduced,
    • the project is not funded sufficiently,
    • and the overall success of the project is likely to turn into failure.

In fact, any project which is initiated without an appropriate degree of executive sponsorship (executive sponsor) stands an high likelihood of failure.

Sponsorship: project, programme or portfolio

Project

The role of the project sponsor starts before the appointment of the project manager. It continues beyond project closure and the departure of the project manager. So the sponsorship role covers the whole project life cycle.

The project sponsorship role will often be taken by the programme manager where the project is part of a programme.

Programme

The scale of programmes will often require a sponsor to be supported by a group of senior managers who perform some sponsorship duties. However, ultimate accountability will lie with the programme sponsor.

The programme manager should also be a competent project sponsor and will often perform that role for some, or all, of the programme’s component projects.

Portfolio

Sponsorship of a portfolio of projects and programmes will be undertaken by a senior executive with the necessary status, credibility and authority. This may well be a main board member, or even the CEO of the organisation. The scale of a portfolio will require an extensive governance organisation. This may involve, for example, committees with the responsibility for investment decisions or management of change.

What a Project Sponsor Does In Each Phase

While sometimes a project sponsor is clearly engaged from the start and other times they are nowhere to be seen, the best project sponsor is fully engaged with every phase of the project.

Initiation Duties

Project sponsors are instrumental in selecting the project manager during the initiation phase, and then they give that project manager a clear mandate, context for the project and set the level of their authority.

Also, during the project initiation, the project sponsor makes sure the project is appropriate for the organization, offering input on the project charter and participates in the kick-off meeting. The sponsor helps with the decision making during this phase.

Planning Duties

For the planning phase, the project sponsor is checking to make sure the project plan is realistic and feasible. This accounts for time restrictions and whether or not the team is tasked with expectations they cannot meet.

The project sponsor can help resolve issues, too, if they’re beyond the scope of the project manager. If there are other projects in play, the project sponsor is making sure they’re all working together and not against each other.

Implementation Duties

For the implementation and control phases, the project sponsor should work with the project manager, but not overstep boundaries. The project sponsor evaluates the project’s actual progress against what was planned and provides feedback to the project manager as necessary.

Sponsors also help the project manager and team work more autonomously to solve issues as they arise, while making sure that processes are being followed. They identify underlying factors that might cause problems and celebrate completion of milestones.

Closing Duties

During the closing phase, the project sponsor is part of the post-mortem evaluation on performance and other aspects of the project. They make sure that handoffs and signoffs are done properly. Project sponsors help facilitate the discussion that decides whether a project was a success or failure.

Overall, a project sponsor helps to streamline communications. They create trust and collaboration and keep problems from escalating. In terms of issues, they set up the instrument to identify problems with schedule, cost and quality. In that sense, they’re also in charge of making sure risk management is successful. Finally, they also encourage record-keeping for historical data storage.

Top quotes on Change & Trust by Stephen Covey

7Habits-Covey

I’ve first read this book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” in the 90’s – timeless inspiration!

 

 

 

 

  1. “There are three constants in life – change, choice and principles.”
  2. “Make time for planning; Wars are won in the general’s tent.”
  3. “Be proactive.” 
  4. “Begin with the end in mind.”
  5. “You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smiling, nonapoloegetically – to say ‘no’ to other things. And the way to do that is by having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside.”
  6. “Put first things first.”
  7. “Think win-win.”
  8. “Seek first to understand, and then to be understood.” 
  9. “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand. Most people listen with the intent to reply.”
  10. “If we keep doing what we’re doing, we’re going to keep getting what we’re getting.”
  11. “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” 
  12. “Treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.” 
  13. “The key is not to prioritise what’s on your schedule but to schedule your priorities.” Leadership is a choice, not a position.” 
  14. “I am not a product of my circumstances, I am a product of my decisions.” 
  15. “Strength lies in differences not in similarities.” 
  16. “Listen with your eyes for feelings.” 
  17. “The way we see the problem is the problem.” 
  18. “Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.” 
  19. “Accountability breeds response-ability.” 
  20. “Highly proactive people don’t blame circumstances, conditions or conditioning for their behaviour. Their behaviour of their own conscious choice.” 
  21. “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” 
  22. “Be a light not a judge. Be a model not a choice. be part of the solution not part of the problem.” 
  23. “He who has a why can deal with any what or how.” Stephen Covey
  24. “Our ultimate freedom is the right and power anybody or anything outside ourselves will affect us.” 
  25. “The only thing that endures over time is the Law of the Farm. You must prepare the ground, plant the seed, cultivate, and water it if you expect to reap the harvest.”
  26. “A personal mission statement becomes the DNA for every other decision we make.” 
  27. “Courage is not the absence of fear but the awareness that something else is more important.” 
  28. “To achieve goals you’ve never achieved before you need to start doing things you’ve never done before.” 
  29. “Live out of your imagination, not your history.” 
  30. “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.” 
  31. “Every human has four endowments – self-awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom. The power to choose, to respond, to change.” 
  32. “I teach people how to treat me by what I will allow.” 
  33. “Motivation is a fire from within. If someone else trie to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very briefly.” 
  34. “You can change the fruit without changing the root.” 
  35. “Our character is basically a composite of our habits because they are consistent. Often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character.” 
  36. “Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment.” 
  37. “If I really want to improve my situation, I can work on the one thing over which I have control – myself.” 
  38. “Once you have a clear picture of your priorities that is values, goals, and high leverage activities, organise your life around them.”
  39. “What you do has greater impact than what you say.”

 

Also see quotes from Peter Drucker

NED :: Non-Executive Director’s proposition

Are you aware of the substantive and measurable value a Non-Executive Director can bring to you and your business…?

Introduction

The Non-Executive Director, no longer a role that is associated just with large organisations. There is a growing awareness of the NED role and more and more organisations are appointing NEDs of various types, and specific specialities, often within technology and digital transformation, to enhance the effectiveness of their boards as standard practise.

With the pressure on organisations to compete globally, deal with digital transformation and respond to rapidly changing market conditions, new skills are needed at board level. This leads to the role of the NED diversifying and introduces a need to refresh the NEDs as circumstances change, bringing in new specialities, experience and challenge when the organisation needs it.

A good NED can, and should make a substantive and measurable contribution to the effectiveness of the board. Do not see a NED as a consulting advisor – a NED, within the remit of the role of a company director, play a full and active part in the success efforts of an organisation. Irrespective of the skills, experience and network contacts that NEDs will bring, they must above all, provide appropriate independent and constructive challenge to the board.

Both the organisation and the NED must understand the purpose of being a NED, within the specific organisation, for the role to be effective. This includes a clear understanding of what value the NED is expected to bring. A NED’s value goes beyond just the statutory requirements.

On appointment a Non-executive director can:

  • Broaden the horizons and experience of existing executive directors.
  • Facilitate the cross-fertilisation of ideas, particularly in terms of business strategy and planning.
  • Have a vital part to play in appraising and commenting on a company’s investment/expenditure plans.
  • Bring wisdom, perspective, contacts and credibility to your business.
  • Be the lighthouse that helps you find your way and steer clear of near and present dangers.

The role of the NED

All directors, including NEDs, are required to:

  • provide entrepreneurial leadership of the company
  • set the company’s vision, strategy and strategic objectives
  • set the company’s values and standards
  • ensure that its obligations to its shareholders and others are understood and met.

In addition, the role of the NED has the following key elements:

  • Strategy: NEDs should constructively challenge and help develop proposals on strategy.
  • Performance: NEDs should scrutinise the performance of management in meeting agreed goals and objectives and monitor the reporting of performance.
  • Risk: NEDs should satisfy themselves on the integrity of financial information and that financial controls and systems of risk management are robust and defensible.
  • People: NEDs are responsible for determining appropriate levels of remuneration of executive directors and have a prime role in appointing, and where necessary removing, executive directors, and in succession planning.

“In broad terms, the role of the NED, under the leadership of the chairman, is: to ensure that there is an effective executive team in place; to participate actively in the decision–takingprocess of the board; and to exercise appropriate oversight over execution of the agreed strategy by the executive team.”; Walker Report, 2009

 

A non-executive director will bring the follow benefits to your company:

  • strengthen the board and provide an independent viewpoint
  • contribute to the creation of a sound business plan, policy and strategy
  • review plans and budgets that will implement policy and strategy
  • be a confidential and trusted sounding board for the MD/CEO and keep the focus of the MD/CEO
  • have the experience to objectively assess the company’s overall performance
  • have the experience and confidence to stand firm when he or she believes the executive directors are acting in an inappropriate manner
  • ensure good corporate governance
  • provide outside experience of the workings of other companies and industries, and have beneficial sector contacts and experience gained in previous businesses
  • have the ability to clearly communicate with fellow directors
  • have the ability to gain the respect of the other directors
  • possess the tact and skill to work with the executive directors, providing support and encouragement where difficult decisions are being made
  • have contacts with third parties such as financial sources, grant providers and potential clients

Looking for a NED?

Now that you understand what a NED can do – What are you waiting for?

Contact Renier Botha if you are looking for an experienced director with strong technology and digital transformation skills.

Renier has demonstrable success in developing and delivering visionary business & technology strategies. His experience include Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A), major capital projects, growth, governance, compliance, risk management as well as business and organisation development. From startup to FTSE listed enterprise, the value Renier can bring as NED is substantive, driving business growth.

Effective Leadership Communication

We have all heard the saying: “Communication is the key to success!”

Leadership coaches and successful leaders all agree that when it comes to communication – A leader can never communicate enough! The communication gurus say that even when there is nothing to communicate, the leader should communicate that there is nothing to communicate…

I have been asked the questions: “ How do you communicate effectively to ensure that everyone in the team are on the same page?” and “How do you ensure that you address and manage people’s expectations?”

To answer this, I’ll start by over simplifying in saying that communication is simply the exchange of information between a sender and a receiver, through a specific medium. In electronic engineering information is transferred from a transmitter to a receiver as an electric signal in a controlled way, ensuring the receiver receives the same information that left the sender – effective communication. That is no different with humans. As a leader communicating to your team, you are distributing information amongst other humans, amongst people – and herein the challenge. People, unlike electronic senders and receivers (which are manufactured to be identical) are different, not one is alike. Hence will the interpretation of the information exchanged through communication  differ as well. The challenge to effective communication is to align the interpretation of the information into a common understanding between the communicator (speaker/sender) and the audience (listener/receiver).

The ways in which you can ensure that you are addressing and managing people’s expectations better, are in understanding the people better. A better understanding of people, paradoxically comes through effective communication – to ask questions and listen more than actually doing the talking (active listening).

Communication is more than just your words – it is also:

  • how you say it – tone of voice, passion, authenticity
  • why you say it – the message’s intention
  • when you say it – time of day or after a specific milestone or prior an event
  • what you say AND what you don’t to say – sometimes what you don’t say gives a clearer picture of what you want to say…
  • your body language – facial expression, gestures and posture communicate a lot of the unsaid word

Communication Empowers

Consuming information leads to knowledge and knowledge is power. Thus communication leads to empowerment.

The ‘One Minute Manager’ refers to empowerment as: “Empowerment is something someone gives you – leadership is what you do to make it work.”

Communication empowers people with knowledge – to be informed and to feel part of something bigger. How the communication is being delivered (leadership) will determine it’s outcome.

What is LeadershipMy definition: “Leadership is the art of leading a group of people or an organisation to execute a common task by providing a vision that they follow willingly through the inspiration received from the leader’s passion, knowledge, methodologies, approach, and ability to influence the interests of all members and stakeholders.”

How can you accomplish this if you cannot effectively communicate the vision in a way that people feel inspired to willingly take action towards achieving it? Effective communication is key…

You can have the best team mission with SMART objectives but if you cannot communicate it to your team, you will struggle to make progress. How well you can communicate your plan (unambiguously) will determine if your team will really mobilise and unite behind you and go the extra mile to make it happen. The ultimate success measure of effective communication is: “your plan becomes the team’s plan” – everybody on the same page!

People are not mind readers – they need clear instructions and clear information to make decisions and conduct their work, especially if the work is delivered within a team where coherence and a mutual output objective are of the essence. Ultimately, it is in your best interest to accept responsibility for getting what you need to succeed in the workplace. As leaders it is in your best interest and your responsibility to ensure that what’s needed to succeed, is effectively communicated to your work teams.

Consider This

You can improve the effectiveness of your communication through paying attention to the following aspects, each discussed in more detail below:

  • Know & Understand your audience
  • Motivational & Confidence building
  • Have a Plan
  • Make sure the communication subject is clear – stick to it
  • Be Direct
  • Be Authentic
  • Enough detail
  • Bi-directional communication is more impactful
  • Common Cause
  • Think before you speak
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Get Assurance – get feedback, assure the message sent is the message received
  • Build Trust
  • Situational leadership – choose the communication style to suite the situation

 

Know & Understand the Audience

Being an effective communicator allows you to address the interests and concerns of your target audience whether it being your team, your customer or client, the stakeholders or an audience listening to your presentation. Knowing and understanding your audience help to ensure that your grab their attention when you communicate and that they feel your are addressing the message to them. To understand your audience better and to structure communication appropriately, you can ask questions like:

  • Who is the audience?
  • Why is that the audience? (sometimes this is obvious but by asking this question, really think about who should be getting this message and why? Why not?)
  • What are we trying to achieve?
  • What are your plans?
  • What are the expectations of me as the leader/presenter and of the people the team members/audience?
  • What will be the desired impact of your message? (Also think about the undesired outcomes and how you can proactively prevent that?)
  • What will be the impact of your plans to the business, the team and to the people personally? – Do not leave people with more questions than before.
  • Why can we productively work together? (Understanding this is key to structuring the message to utilise people’s strengths to bring acceptance and empowerment – a sense of belonging.)
  • How will we know we are doing a great job? (How will this be measured within the audience – everyone needs to understand the metrics.)
  • Are you using a language (terminology and jargon) that the audience can relate to? There is a difference in technology speak and business speak. Align the vocabulary to your target audience – i.e. when addressing business leaders do not use too much technical acronyms and terms, rather focus on outcomes and financial numbers.
  • Do you understand the audience’s needs?
  • How can you, as the leader, meet their needs?
  • How frequently do I need to communicate? (Constant)
  • What method, approach and medium (usually a combination of) will deliver the message best? (Face to face, one to one, round table, town hall, informal stand-up, email, presentation (power-point), graphs, bullet points, etc…)
  • To what level of detail do I need to go into, to describe clearly what I mean? (Post communication, everybody must have the same picture in their minds.)

Motivational and Confidence building

Communication should always be motivational and aim to build confidence within the audience – especially when bad news is being delivered. Ensure that you mention the performance of the team, the success resulting from the efforts. The positive future that awaits and the confidence that you have in the teams abilities to realise that future. Keep repremending content to the point and as short as possible and always follow it up with a positive prospect building trust and confidence.

Have a plan

If you are communicating change or progress, you must come prepared with a plan. Have a relevant understanding of the past, the present and the future. The plan is usually “how” the team will progress from where they have been, using what they have today to build the desired future. Progress against a plan must always be measurable to unsure continuous improvement.

Be clear on what is being communicated

Ensure that everyone is clear of the subject being communicated. Focus on the key message of the communication and present it in a direct and authentic way. Stick to the subject. Ensure that the message comes with the right context and content for the receiver to place it in the right perspective.

Be Direct

I believe in a direct approach – say it as it is. Have the guts to say what is needed. Speak about the hard things that no one talks about but everyone wants to hear. Address the elephant in the room, preferably before you are asked about it.

 Be Authentic

My believe is to always be truthful and authentic in delivering your message, be yourself – people see straight through anything else…

Enough detail

Ensure that you communicate just enough detail to ensure everyone has the same picture in his or her minds after you have communicated. Too much detail and people will loose interest. Too little detail and people will makeup their own inconsistent picture. Remember the story of the group of people that were told that there is a cat in the room next door… the storyteller waited for the picture to start forming and then asked each one of the audience to describe it. As you can imagine various different pictures were presented – a black cat, a ginger cat or is it a tiger?

Always be prepared to go into way more detail than what you expect – your ability to use detailed facts to support your message, especially when asked about it, will determine the credibility of your message.

Bi-directional

Successful communication always has to be two-way. You have to be a good listener as well. Be prepared to have collaboratively discussions – listen intently before you respond. Do not formulate your next response in your head instead of listening to what is being said or asked. Your team will have a wealth of knowledge and insight that might help to enhance the right picture. This means being able to have a meaningful discussion with people, understanding, assisting and facilitating the resolution of their problems, ensuring people know what to do and why they are doing it without you having to tell them how to do it. (See Success – people come first).

Effective communication is the continuous search and commitment to seek for a better understanding. Approach conversations from a learning perspective, an opportunity to get to know more rather than a one directional “tell” perspective.

Common Cause

For the message to hit home it must address a common cause – something that address the benefit of the team but also on an individual level. Either create a common cause in your communication or remind people of the common cause – why it is important to be part of something bigger rather than just you as an individual.

 Think before your speak

Stop and think things through before you act in haste, sending out an ill-considered communication. Think what needs to happen, what are the benefits, risks, what are the desired outcome… Then compile a well-considered and effective communication. Remember this – Once the message is out, you can never really take it back.

Emotional Intelligence

In the blog post on Emotional Intelligence, EQ is defined under five interconnected components:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Motivation
  • Empathy
  • Social skills

Use your own EI to assess the situation before your decide on the appropriate way to react and how what needs communicating. In short I say:” Trust your gut feeling.”

Get Assurance

Continuously test the effectiveness of your communication by asking people to relay to you what their interpretation is. Ask this questions at all levels – do not assume that the organisation structure will distribute the intended message to all that needs to hear it – go check for yourself. Get feedback. Get the assurance that people understand what you are communicating and that if people are remembering and acting on what has been communicated. If not – communicate again, again!

Build Trust

You want your communications to be trusted. How do you build trust? By doing what you say you are going to do and build relationships at all levels with integrity and honesty. When you are trusted, your communication is on-boarded more sincerely and you are taken seriously – building rapport.

Situational Communication (and Leadership)

There are many different leadership styles (read more here) as outlined in the list below:

  • Autocratic Leadership
  • Bureaucratic Leadership
  • Charismatic Leadership
  • Democratic/Participative Leadership
  • Laissez-Faire Leadership
  • People-Oriented/Relations-Oriented Leadership
  • Servant Leadership
  • Task-Oriented Leadership
  • Transactional Leadership
  • Transformational Leadership

The “One Minute Manager” summarised leadership into four basic styles:

  • Directing – The leader provides specific instructions and closely supervises the accomplishment. (Communicate mainly by telling people what needs to be done)
  • Coaching – The leader continuous to direct and closely supervise but also explains decisions, solicits suggestions and support progress made. (Communicate a directive or corrective after team collaboration)
  • Supporting – The leader facilitates and supports people’s efforts toward accomplishment and shares responsibility for decision making with them. (Communicate similarly to the Coaching style)
  • Delegating – The leader turns over responsibility for decision making and problem solving to subordinates. (Communicate collaboratively and inclusively)

Usually the leaders default communication style is directly related to the leadership style. An effective leader can adapt his management style and hence his communication style according to the situation, including consideration for the audience and the nature of the message to be communicated.

To Conclude

Remember and think about all the aspects mentioned for consideration, before you communicate. Be flexible and agile in your approach to communication – as a leader you must be able to fluently switch between different leadership and communication styles and mediums to ensure optimum results, in the moment. There is no one glove that fit them all, leadership is not a science – hence the art of leadership. You’ll know when you get it right – do more of those!

Every situation is different and hence can a single communication approach not be seen as superior to the other – there are no equals. I’ll conclude with this saying from the ‘One Minute Manager’: “There is nothing so unequal as the equal treatment of un-equals.”

 

Also Read:

Management Communication Plan

 

Bimodal Organisations

The continuous push towards business improvement combined with the digital revolution, that has changed the way the customer is engaging with business through the use of technology, have introduced the need for an agility in the delivery of IT services. This speed and agility in IT delivery, for the business to keep abreast of a fast evolving and innovative technology landscape and to gain an competitive advantage are not just required in the development and/or introduction of new technology into the business, but in the way “keep the lights on” IT operations are reliably delivered through stable platforms and processes enabling business growth as well.

IT Bimodal

We can agree that once systems and solutions are adopted and integrated into business operations, the business requirement for IT delivery changes with IT stability, reliability, availability and quality as key enablers to business performance optimisation. There are thus two very distinct and equally important ways or modes of delivering IT services that should seamlessly combine into the overall IT Service Operations contributing to business growth.

Gartner minted in 2016 the concept of IT Bimodal – the practise to manage two separate coherent modes of IT delivery.

Mode 1: Focussed on Stability Mode 2: Focussed on Agility
Traditional Exploratory
Sequential Non-linear
Emphasis on: Safety & Accuracy Emphasis on: Agility and Speed

Each of the delivery modes has their own set of benefits and flaws depending on the business context – ultimately the best of both worlds must be adapted as the new way in which technology delivers into business value. Businesses require agility in change without compromising the stability of operations. Change to this new way and associated new Target Operating Model (TOM) is required.

Bimodal Organisation

This transformation is not just applicable to IT but the entire organisation. IT and “the business” are the two parts of the modern digital business. “The Business” needs to adapt and change their work style (operating model) towards digital as well. This transformation by both IT and “the business”, branded by Gartner as Bimodal, is the transformation towards a new business operating model (a new way of working) embracing a common goal of strategic alignment. Full integration of IT and business are the core of a successful digital organisation competing in the digital era.

The introduction of Agile development methodologies and DevOps, led to a transformation in how technology is being delivered into business operations. IT Service Management (ITSM) and the ITIL framework have matured the operational delivery of IT services, as a business (#ITaaBusiness) or within a business while Lean Six Sigma enables business process optimisation to ultimate quality delivery excellence. But these new “agile” ways of working, today mainly applied within IT, is not enough for the full bimodal transformation. Other aspects involving the overall organisation such as business governance and strategy, management structures and organisational architecture, people (Human Capital Management – HCM), skills, competencies, culture, change management, leadership and performance management as well as the formal management of business and technology innovation and integration, form additional service areas that have to be established or transformed.

How do organisations go about defining this new Bimodal TOM? – In come Bimodal Enablement Consulting Services in short BECS.

BECS – Bimodal Enablement Consulting Services

Gartner’s definition: “An emerging market that leverages a composite set of business and technology consulting services and IP assets to achieve faster more reliable and secure, as well as business aligned, solutions in support of strategic business initiatives.”

To establish a Bimodal enabled TOM, organisations need to architect/design the organisation to be customer centric, focussing on the value adding service delivered to the client/customer – a Service Oriented Organisation (SOO) designed using a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). This set of customer services (external facing) should relay back to a comprehensive and integrated set of supporting and enabling business services (internal facing) that can quickly and effectively enable the business to innovate and rapidly adapt and deliver to changing customer needs and the use of technology within the digital era. This journey of change, that businesses needs to undergo, is exactly what digital transformation is about – not just focused on the technology, processes, quality and customer service, but on the business holistically, starting with the people working within the business and how they add value through the development and use of the right skills and tools, learning an applying it rapidly throughout the business value chain.

A customer centric delivery approach requires the development and adoption of new ways in which work are conducted – new management structures, building and enhancing A-teams (high performing individuals and teams, getting the job done), optimised processes and the right tool sets.

BECS must address the top bimodal drivers or goals, as identified by Gartner research:

  • Deliver greater IT value to the business
  • Shorten the time to deliver solutions
  • Enable digital business strategies
  • Accelerate IT innovation
  • Transform IT talent/culture/operations
  • Increase the interaction between business and IT
  • Embrace leading-edge technologies, tools and/or practices
  • Reduce IT costs (always a favourite)
  • Change the organisation’s culture

Take Action

Are you ready, aligned and actively engaging in the digital world?

Can you accelerate change and enable revenue growth with rock-solid service and business operations?

Are you actively practicing bimodal, continuously adapting to the changing digitally empowered customer demand?

The ultimate test to determine if you are bimodal: Every business process and every enterprise system needs to work without a blip, even as more innovation and disruptors are introduced to make the business more efficient and responsive.

It is time to be a bimodal organisation!

___________Renier Botha specialises in helping organisation to optimise their ability to better integrate technology and change into their main revenue channels – make contact today.

Related post: Success – People First; Performance ImprovementAGILE – What business executives need to know #1; AGILE – What business executives need to know #2; Lean Six Sigma; The Digital Transformation Necessity; Structure Tech for Success

Performance Improvement: Effective & Efficient

Performance is simply the action taken or process followed in doing a task or function.

Performance improvement – the continuous driver to be better, to grow, to achieve great things!

Directly related to business performance is the ability to change the business processes for greater effectiveness and efficiency increasing productivity while terms like specialisation, standardisation comes to mind followed by measurement, data analysis, statistical analysis, root cause analysis and finally process control and quality control and the overriding metric – customer satisfaction.

Remember the saying by Peter Drucker: “What gets measured, gets improved”…

Measuring performance involves the ability to measure the effectiveness of an initiative or action as well as the efficiency in which it is achieved. Similarly performance improvement involves the enhancement of effectiveness while optimising the efficiency.

Effective: Success in delivering a desired or intended result.

Efficient: Achieving maximum productivity through optimal use of resources with minimum waste or expense.

Depending on your business and your situation you must select or develop key performance indicators (KPIs) to calculate the effectiveness and efficiency of your activities – for business this is usually calculated in monetary terms. Once you understand your current performance you can set KPI targets and work on improvement initiatives.

I found this flow on Pinterest that gives a great overview of the processes involved in enhancing effectiveness and efficiency to increase business performance summarised in 5 habits of the mind:

  1. Know where time goes
  2. Focus on outward contribution
  3. Build on Strengths
  4. Concentrate on selected area that produce outstanding results
  5. Make effective decisions

Linking appropriate KPIs to this flow can measure progress and deliver improving results.

Effective_Efficient

Performance Management

Performance (Effectiveness and Efficiency) can be influenced by various different factors – illustrated in the diagram below.

Performance_Improvement - CP.png

In using this diagram, a critical path (Shown in red above) can be drawn to improve performance in a specific area i.e. staff performance.

  1. First performance is defined,
  2. then measured to get a specific result (and understanding the impact it has overall).
  3. Understanding the results to determine which key skills, abilities and competeencies or lack there-of are contributing to the specific performance.
  4. Talent is needed to deliver performance – talent skills, abilities and competencies can be trained or recruited.
  5. Engagement is key – involve, motivate and empower your talent to respond and interact with the business – engagement brings a sense of happiness, which is a great motivator for creativity and performance.
  6. And the cycle repeats in never ending quality improvement loop.

This methodology can be adapted and used for performance improvement in any area of the business value chain.

Remember performance improvement is always reflected in the customer satisfaction. Satisfied customers engage with the business recurrently – hence revenue growth!

Let’s Talk – renierbotha Ltd specialises in the performance improvement of business and IT operations. Are you looking to achieve your goals faster? Create better business value? Build strategies to improve growth? We can help – make contact!

10 Peter Drucker Quotes that challenges Business Leadership thinking

Drucker is one of the best-known and most widely influential thinkers and writers on the subject of management theory and practice. In 1959, Drucker coined the term “knowledge worker,” and later in his life considered knowledge-worker productivity to be the next frontier of management.

  1. What gets measured gets improved.”
  2. “If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.”
  3. “Doing the right thing is more important than doing the thing right.”
  4. “There is nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency something that should not be done at all.”
  5. Results are gained by exploiting opportunities, not by solving problems.”
  6. “So much of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to work.”
  7. Meetings are by definition a concession to a deficient organization. For one either meets or one works. One cannot do both at the same time.”
  8. “People who don’t take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. People who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year.”
  9. Long-range planning does not deal with the future decisions, but with the future of present decisions.”
  10. Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right things.”

Drucker – management thought leader

His Key Ideas

Drucker is considered the single most important thought leader in the world of management, and several ideas run through most of his writings:

  • Decentralization and simplification.[31] Drucker discounted the command and control model and asserted that companies work best when they are decentralized. According to Drucker, corporations tend to produce too many products, hire employees they don’t need (when a better solution would be outsourcing), and expand into economic sectors that they should avoid.
  • The concept of “knowledge worker” in his 1959 book The Landmarks of Tomorrow.[32] Since then, knowledge-based work has become increasingly important in businesses worldwide.
  • The prediction of the death of the “Blue Collar” worker.[33] The changing face of the US Auto Industry is a testimony to this prediction.
  • The concept of what eventually came to be known as “outsourcing.”[34] He used the example of “front room” and “back room” of each business: A company should be engaged in only the front room activities that are critical to supporting its core business. Back room activities should be handed over to other companies, for whom these tasks are the front room activities.
  • The importance of the nonprofit sector,[35] which he calls the third sector (private sector and the Government sector being the first two). Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) play crucial roles in the economies of countries around the world.
  • A profound skepticism of macroeconomic theory.[36] Drucker contended that economists of all schools fail to explain significant aspects of modern economies.
  • A lament that the sole focus of microeconomics is price, citing its lack of showing what products actually do for us,[37] thereby stimulating commercial interest in discovering how to calculate what products actually do for us; from their price.[38]
  • Respect for the worker. Drucker believed that employees are assets not liabilities. He taught that knowledgeable workers are the essential ingredients of the modern economy, and that a hybrid management model is the sole method of demonstrating an employee’s value to the organization. Central to this philosophy is the view that people are an organization’s most valuable resource, and that a manager’s job is both to prepare people to perform and give them freedom to do so.[39]
  • A belief in what he called “the sickness of government.” Drucker made nonpartisan claims that government is often unable or unwilling to provide new services that people need and/or want, though he believed that this condition is not intrinsic to the form of government. The chapter “The Sickness of Government”[40] in his book The Age of Discontinuity formed the basis of New Public Management,[41] a theory of public administration that dominated the discipline in the 1980s and 1990s.
  • The need for “planned abandonment.” Businesses and governments have a natural human tendency to cling to “yesterday’s successes” rather than seeing when they are no longer useful.[42]
  • A belief that taking action without thinking is the cause of every failure.
  • The need for community. Early in his career, Drucker predicted the “end of economic man” and advocated the creation of a “plant community”[43] where an individual’s social needs could be met. He later acknowledged that the plant community never materialized, and by the 1980s, suggested that volunteering in the nonprofit sector was the key to fostering a healthy society where people found a sense of belonging and civic pride.[44]
  • The need to manage business by balancing a variety of needs and goals, rather than subordinating an institution to a single value.[45][46] This concept of management by objectivesand self-control forms the keynote of his 1954 landmark The Practice of Management.[47]
  • A company’s primary responsibility is to serve its customers. Profit is not the primary goal, but rather an essential condition for the company’s continued existence and sustainability.[48]
  • A belief in the notion that great companies could stand among humankind’s noblest inventions.[49]
  • “Do what you do best and outsource the rest” is a business tagline first “coined and developed”[50] in the 1990s by Drucker.[51] The slogan was primarily used to advocate outsourcing as a viable business strategy. Drucker began explaining the concept of outsourcing as early as 1989 in his Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article entitled “Sell the Mailroom.”[52] In 2009 by way of recognition, Drucker was posthumously inducted into the Outsourcing Hall of Fame for his outstanding work in the field.[53]

From wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Drucker

 

How to Be a Great Leader: Stay Human

How exactly can the five elements of emotional intelligence EI be combined to result in great leadership?

The first step is to remember this: You’re a leader, not a super hero. It’s OK to be human. In fact, it’s critical to maintain all of the qualities of a human, particularly the ones that enable other people to relate to you and like you. Here are six ways to do just that.
#EI #Lead #People #Leadership

Guest Blog: Original article 

We all have the ability to influence other people, and are, thus, all leaders in some way. And while leading by example is a known recipe for success, how to combine the actual ingredients for that recipe is often elusive. A huge part of what makes an effective leader is emotional intelligence, the capacity to be aware of, control and express one’s emotions, as well as handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. Emotional intelligence, also known as EQ or EI, is a term popularized by Daniel Goleman, who defined these five interconnected components of emotional intelligence:
1. Self-awareness.
2. Self-regulation.
3. Motivation.
4. Empathy.
5. Social skills.

So there’s a list of ingredients, but how exactly can those five elements be combined to result in great leadership? The first step is to remember this: You’re a leader, not a super hero. It’s OK to be human. In fact, it’s critical to maintain all of the qualities of a human, particularly the ones that enable other people to relate to you and like you. Here are six ways to do just that.

Vulnerability (self-awareness)
As counterintuitive as it may seem, great leadership relies on vulnerability. Humans aren’t perfect. We all make mistakes. We all fear something. A leader who can acknowledge and address his or her vulnerabilities is respected and emulated because vulnerability builds connection and trust.

Storytelling (self-awareness, empathy and social skills)
Ken Kesey, professional storyteller and author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (among many other titles) once said, “You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case.” This is what stories can do. Instead of telling someone what to do or how to do it, share anecdotes from your life with takeaways that exemplify your values, how you came to appreciate those values and what you like to see in other people. Sharing personal stories (and listening to other people’s stories) also exposes a vulnerability that, ultimately, builds trust. If you’re not a natural storyteller, find a storytelling workshop or encourage your organization to host a storytelling lab. You’ll discover that we, as humans, have been telling stories for thousands of years and are programmed to do it. (In fact, the Latin word “historia,” which is where the word “history” derives from, has the word “story” right in it—because narratives—illustrated, oral and written—are how humans have always shared information.)

De-Powering (self-regulation)
Neuroscientists have studied why power corrupts and found that it impairs “mirroring,” a neural process that is a cornerstone of empathy. While it’s difficult to prevent power from having this affect on your brain, it is possible to remove yourself from power occasionally. To maintain a capacity for empathy, it’s important to not always feel powerful by participating in mundane obligations (e.g. buy milk, pay bills), recalling humbling episodes from your past, and interacting and relating (genuinely) with ordinary, less influential people.

Psychological Safety (motivation and empathy)
Emotional intelligence requires inner motivation, and leadership requires the ability to inspire and energize other people. But if you want an innovative team that enjoys coming to work and comes up with fresh ideas, approach them with compassion in order to nurture an environment where people feel comfortable expressing opposing opinions and taking risks. A supportive environment allows people to experiment with ideas without fear of ridicule or recrimination. Also toward that end, don’t be stingy with praise—but do be sincere.

Knowing People (empathy)
Isolation has a huge price. If your team doesn’t know you, understand you and like you, then the reverse is also true: You don’t know, understand or like the individuals on your team. And that means that you can’t help each person play to his or her strengths. Only by getting to know individuals will you be able to recognize their limitations and special abilities and be able to adapt and find the best role for everyone on the team.

Diffusing Conflict (social skills and empathy)
People push buttons. People disagree. And a good leader needs to know how to flip the script before arguments escalate and damage work relationships. One technique when someone flies off the handle is to simply stop the conversation and ask with genuine concern, “Are you OK?” A conflict-diffusing response like this, which interrupts the tempo of a heated conversation and subdues an amygdala hijack, is often effective.

Costs reduction initiatives: Retain resources – incubate value innovation

Why is it that technology is always perceived as being too expensive? Do organisations really understand the underlining value technology brings to the business as a foundational enabler? If the answer is yes, then why the continued pressure on Technology Executives to reduce cost? It is interesting that when it comes to cutting cost, business and financial leaders always look at cutting technology resource head count instead of seriously evaluating opportunities to improve productivity and efficiency through value innovation.

In accounting terms there are only two main actions to improve the bottom line – increase Revenue and/or reduce Cost. In technology business operations these two factors can be influenced by several initiatives of which reduction of staff is one option. This should be the last resort, in my view. Despite the known facts that cutting heads in IT, in essence, is cutting intellectual property, knowledge and experience that resides within your team, is it still at top on the list for CFOs, other Executives and Board Members when the cost reduction discussion comes up!

Before we look at reducing the workforce delivering the technology services and products forming the enabling foundation for any organisation, surely we should look at viable alternatives, value innovative initiatives, forthcoming from our staff. Empower your staff to be an incubator for innovation.

Technology operations are all about providing services at a specific level as defined in SLAs (Service Level Agreements) for example:

  • IT infrastructure hosting email, website, file depositories and intranets,
  • Software Development of products the organisation sell to clients and/or use in-house,
  • Implementation, Integration and Customisation projects where software products are deployed,
  • Help/Service Desk supporting IT end-users, etc.

These services are all provided by technologist, by people, and People Come First (Read more…) Focussing on a professional, efficient and happy team by understanding the needs of every individual, goes a long way in ensuring the appropriate initiatives are forthcoming from your staff to make technology more proficient.

One of the key responsibilities of a technology executive is the efficient management of the resources. This is especially important when technology companies/departments are delivering services where the resources are the biggest expense on the technology P&L (Profit & Loss account or Income statement – Read more…).

Resources, as a high expense, reinforce the importance of proper Resource Management in business governance. Resource Management is not only about ensuring the right staff numbers with the right skills sets are available to deliver to business expectation and demand, but it is also about creating the right environment and support to ensure your staff flourish, grow and freely contribute. In my experience are ‘Resource Managers’ far too undervalued by business leaders not understanding the value of the role. Business leaders should work closely with the Resource Managers to ensure their staff is not seen as major expense but as a key asset contributing not only to current business operations but also future business growth and bottom line improvement initiatives.

Business are investing a lot in building teams of highly skilled and motivated people that feel valued and part of something special. These people are driving a clear and larger than themselves vision, that delivers results leading to recognition and self fulfilment. These people are full of innovative ideas on how to improve the business value proposition.

When it comes to resource management, incubating value driven innovation:

  • Ensure you have the right staff. Optimise your recruitment process to ensure that you have a robust framework for bringing the right people for your organisation onboard.
  • Keep your staff happy, mentally stimulated and intellectually engaged in all business processes and services. Make sure they are informed and are actively participating in the decisions driving the business forward.
  • Give them opportunities to learn in their delivery. Good people has a natural urge to continuous improvement – facilitate it.
  • Create communities where staff can learn and share knowledge on a formal and informal basis.
  • Plan your resourcing levels better. Ensure you have the right staff capacity with the right skills to deliver the services to the business demand and expectation.
  • Use flexible resourcing models combining permanent, temporary contracted and outsourced resources.
  • Continuously capture task and productivity data.
  • Utilise analytics, mine the productivity information to give your insight in areas/services costing the most and why. Act on these insights!
  • Build a framework you can use in planning resource capacity forecasting. Work closely with the business to understand the sales pipeline and product development strategy to ensure you optimise your resource capacity with the demand. There is nothing more disruptive to any organisation than constant resource level fluctuation (increase/hiring and decrease/firing) due to poor strategic and project planning.
  • Identify your key resources and nurture them, retain them at all cost – they are the knowledge keepers of your IP (intellectual property). It is cheaper to implement initiatives to retain staff than it is to replace them!
  • People want to feel part of something and if they are happy in their community contributing to a future and in the process they are improving themselves, they are much more likely to stay. Recruitment fees, where staff retention % are low, are a large contributor to cost.

Any cost saving initiative has a fundamentally key measure that needs to answer true: “What is the value to the business?” Revenue and cost do not always define the true value…

What is the true value your staff bring to the success of your business? Have you asked them and really involved them to work with you on ideas to improve business value through innovation rather than cost cutting?

One last point – when you have done your value analysis and it does come to letting staff go, remember this: treat them fare – you never know when you will need them again.

 

Are you under pressure to cut cost? renierbotha ltd specialises in the fine tuning IT operations for optimum business value – Make contact!