by Kitty Hass and Lori Lindbergh, PhD
Why Can They Always Find the Money to Spend on Ineffective Solutions?
We have been blogging for about three months now. We hope you have become a more discerning consumer of assessments and understand how to evaluate the value that an assessment will bring to your organization. When a valid and reliable assessment is used appropriately, it becomes a powerful tool to focus your organization’s performance improvement efforts and streamline improvement investments.
So then, why do we often hear this from senior managers and executives, “This sounds like exactly what we need, but we don’t have the money to invest in an assessment.”? We have seen; however, that these same executives always find the money to spend on ineffective solutions. And later, they wonder why performance did not improve as expected, or should I say, as they had hoped. We all remember, however, that, “Hope is not typically a great strategy.”
Our next series of posts will focus on the challenges we, and you, may face when recommending a BA or PM assessment to your senior leadership. You may have become a discerning consumer yourself; however, those holding the purse strings may have yet to be converted into believers in the value of assessments. Whether the challenges you face relate to not having enough money, not having time, or not wanting to wait and “just do it,” the goal of your executive influence actions should always be the same: Demonstrate to your senior leadership team the potential cost of NOT conducting an assessment.
First, your leaders must understand that the dynamics and behaviors within and across organizations are different. Furthermore, current research indicates a low correlation of success when organizations implement anecdotal recommendations and solutions based on case studies (i.e., what other organizations have done). This is because
- Organizations have become even more complex, dynamic systems;
- Organizational culture matters – no two organizations are the same; and
- Change is not so easy anymore because of the prior two bullets.
These three bullets relate to understanding your organization’s Applied Capability, which we discussed in last week’s post. Here is an example to illustrate further what we mean. When most organizations decide to improve the business success on their projects, leaders will naturally focus on implementing PM and BA training, processes, portfolio and resource management processes, and implement Centers of Excellence to support BAs and PMs. Should help, right? There may be some initial improvement; however, our research indicates that stronger, more significant correlations exist between business success and:
- Supportive organizational leadership orientation;
- Open communications and information exchange across the organization;
- Decentralized, rational decision making; and
- Clear strategic direction, mission, and objectives;
which are all components of the organizational culture and influence the functioning of the overall organizational system. Without making these organizational changes in conjunction with changes at the BA and PM subsystem levels, the organization may not experience full benefit from implementing the PM and BA improvements, thus wasting money on ineffective solutions. This resembles the “Force-fit” improvement culture we discussed in our February 27th post.
Not many organizations think out of the PM or BA box when implementing improvements because many executives do not believe that they and their organization’s culture need to change. Even if they were willing to change, how would they know what really needs to be changed? The most obvious solution may not always be the most critical. Research-based assessments can provide the guidance executives need to be willing to invest a little more up front to save a lot more later.
So how do you overcome the challenge of the “OK, we need to change, but you go first” mentality? Stay tuned. Our next series of posts will provide you with the answers you need.