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How to Improve your Organisation’s Resilience and Capability for Change

I recently asked a senior director in a large multi-national corporation whether he was satisfied that they were building the resilience and the capability to handle the increasing pace of change and rising complexity of the challenges that his organisation faces today and in the future?

And he had to admit that they weren’t.

This is a question that all executives face, but most will (privately) agree that the answer is a resounding NO.

But those that fail to do so will not survive.

A recent IBM survey of 1,500 CEOs across the world confirmed that complexity is the single biggest issue for businesses and more than half doubted their ability to manage it.

In this blog, I want to explore how you can benchmark and improve your organisation’s capability to respond quickly, effectively and sustainably to these challenges – your Capability for Change.

In the past, this meant understanding your customers, knowing what your competitors were up to and putting in place the appropriate strategies to meet the challenges as they arose. You relied on your managers to run the operation, keep costs under control and implement the strategies (often in addition to their day jobs).

In fact, most organisations performed poorly in responding to the challenges that they faced. The need for change was often recognised too late and managers found themselves unable to galvanise their lumbering, bureaucratic organisation to respond quickly or effectively. However, the relatively slower pace of change allowed some degree of catch-up and the huge financial investment and sometimes sheer waste of skilled resources that were sacrificed because of the ‘too little too late’ response were rarely chronicled.

It is clear that the margin for catch-up and profligate spending and waste is far narrower in today’s more demanding competitive and economic climate. The organisation needs to build resilience into its core values and its infrastructure.

But how?

First you need to benchmark your organisation’s Capability for Change.

I am not talking about the capability of your programme and project management teams. It almost doesn’t matter how well-managed they manage the projects and programmes, if the people affected by the project do not have the capability to learn and embed the new ways of working. I am talking about the capability of the organisation as a whole to cope with the huge task of making change happen. And then do it again, and again.

Typically, CEOs underestimate the complexity of change and overestimate the capabiity of the organisation to cope with change. It’s the gap between these two variables that you need to understand.

How can you tell how wide a gap there is in your organisation?

A quick way is to look at how the organisation deals with overload. Are your managers working effectively? That means they are probably loaded beyond their ability to do everything in the day, but not so overloaded that nothing gets done properly or well. Or are they struggling to cope?

That probably means that change initiatives have been passed down for them to cope with on top of their day job. Sometimes this is disguised by redefining the day job to include the initiative, but the key question is: did you allow them to stop doing other stuff to make the time for the extra work? If not, the initiative won’t succeed.

Research over the past few months suggests that there is a tipping point, beyond which initiatives, however good they may be, cannot ‘stick’.

Conclusion: Unless one of the first things you do in planning a change project is working out how to allow key people to stop doing other stuff (‘the day job’), they won’t be able to give the initiative the time and attention it needs, so it will fail. That usually comes down to budgets and resourcing decisions, which are under serious pressure in today’s competitive and economic climate. So the only way an organisation is going to be motivated to build sufficient resource into supporting their projects so that people can pass routine work across in order to concentrate on a change initiative, is by making this a core value for the organisation. And the only argument for making it a core value is if you can clearly quantify the financial benefits of doing it this way – and the financial consequences of not doing so.

So when we talk about the gap between the level of complexity of the project and the capability of the organisation, that gap has to be quantifiable and its impact on the bottom line profits of the organisation has to be demonstrable.

That’s where the Change Equation tools can help.

By applying the Change Equation models and tools in a Change Readiness Assessment (CRA) process, we can:

  • Calculate the complexity of the project and understand the level of organisational capability needed for the project to succeed
  • Assess the actual cultural and process management capability in the part of the organisation affected by the project
  • Measure the gap and quantify its impact on the project’s ROI

The CRA takes very little time, but delivers significant benefits. If you undertook a CRA as part of the initial planning for all your projects, you would achieve a consistent improvement in project outcomes, raise your return on time and resources invested and see the financial benefits on the bottom line.

 But that’s just the beginning… Now improve your organisational resilience!

You can do something even more important with these tools. By carrying out an audit of a selection of past projects across the organisation, you can begin to define the common barriers to change inherent in the your culture, systems and processes.

Analysis of these barriers allows you to develop an enterprise-wide transformation programme that focuses on bridging the gaps, building capability into how you undertake projects, building resilience into the core values and infrastructure of your organisation.

So a large corporation – or public sector organisation – could integrate the Change Equation methodology into its standard practices at two levels:
  1. At Project level – build the CRA into your project planning processes to ensure Change Readiness and deliver consistent improvement in change project outcomes
  2. At Programme level – use the Change Equation principles, Route Maps and Action Plans to provide the framework and content to deliver organisational Capability for Change as a core value.

Now that you have a clear change strategy, you need skilled people to help you work through the change process. I have just read Marcella Bremer’s new book: Organizational Culture Change: Unleashing your organization’s potential in circles of 10 and can recommend the OCAI Online team.


July 5, 2011 Posted by | analysis, business, business change management, change capability, project and programme management | Leave a comment

Developing “Change Capability” in the face of ever-rising complexity

As I recorded in my 2011/03/13 blog, the world’s private and public sector leaders have reported to IBM that a rapid escalation of “complexity” is the biggest challenge confronting them (Capitalizing on complexity – IBM Global CEO Study 2010).

“Events, threats and opportunities aren’t just coming at us faster or with less predictability; they are converging and influencing each other to create entirely unique situations. They expect this to continue – indeed, to accelerate – in the coming years.” As one CEO said: “The complexity our organization will have to master over the next five years is off the charts — a 100 on your scale from 1 to 5.” (Edward Lonergan, President and CEO, Diversey, Inc.)

The respondents to IBM’s study are also agreed that their organisations are not equipped to cope effectively with this rising level of complexity. They need to “invent new business models based on entirely different assumptions”.

David Snowden, CEO of Cognitive Edge, sees this as a shift from a world where we can predict probable risks and use risk management systems to make our plans robust, to one where we need to accept that complex and interdependent risks will occur, and find new ways to cope, building ‘resilience’ into our organisations.

“Moving from a system designed for robustness to one that supports resilience represents a significant strategic shift. Whilst systems have commonly been designed to be robust – systems which are designed to prevent failure – increasing complexity and the difficulty it poses to ‘fail-proof’ planning have made a shift to resilience strategically imperative. A resilient system accepts that failure is inevitable and focuses instead on early discovery and fast recovery from failure.” (Risk and resilience – David Snowden, Cognitive Edge)

This requires a shift from deductive and inductive methods of managing risk, to placing greater reliance on skilled managers’ sensitivity to emergent behaviour and their ability to use abductive reasoning – identifying relationships between factors that would not normally be considered linked. As it happens, that’s what humans do best!

So we need to apply new skills in our management of change projects and programmes. to focus on developing and maintaining an infrastructure that supports continuous innovation and transformation – I call it an organisation’s Change Capability.

In the Change Equation’s Organisational Culture Evolution model, this is described as an ‘Imaginist’ culture. But an Imaginist culture has to be built on a solid foundation – it can’t just be grafted on. To quote Mary Douglas: “If you want to change the culture, you will have to start by changing the organization”.

See our slidecast on this:

As the IBM study says, avoiding complexity is not an option – the choice comes in how you respond to it. Will you allow complexity to paralyse your already creaking organisation, reduce your responsiveness to customers, create corporate burn-out among your managers and eventually kill you off entirely? Or do you have the creative leadership, a focus on sustaining your people and the right calibre of managers to develop the change capability and operating dexterity you need to turn complexity into a strategic competitive advantage?

It requires a separate, continuous thread of capability development to reflect, transmit, embed and maintain the organisation’s core values and Change Capability infrastructure  – but that is the recipe for sustained growth and survival in these complex times.

Is that what your organisation is doing?

June 6, 2011 Posted by | business change management, change capability, complexity, innovation, project and programme management | | Leave a comment

How to measure the impact of distrust on your project

Trust is the ‘oil’ that helps people to accept change in an organisation. It empowers them to remove the barriers that block change, with a minimum of friction. (That’s why having a highly visible senior manager at change project meetings is so important – they don’t even have to say anything!)

An absence of trust between managers and staff and between parts of an organisation will slow down and even stop a project. The higher the levels of distrust, the more time and effort the project will require and the higher the cost. So if you could measure trust in the group that is to be affected by a change project, you could develop a useful predictor of the additional time and cost involved in implementing that change project.

I looked for in vain for an approach that would allow me to measure trust. Stephen Covey Jr wrote a useful book about “The Speed of Trust – The One Thing that Changes Everything” but one thing he failed to do in that book was to suggest ways to measure trust – and other authorities on the subject shed no more light.

So I dreamt up my own approach. How does one measure trust? By asking a few key questions…

There are essentially 3 key relationships anyone has in an organisation:

1. Relationship with my manager

2. Relationship with my staff

3. Relationship with my peers

That gives a 3-dimensional model. For each dimension, I used a four-point scale to score the relationship, where 0 is the lowest and 3 is the highest:

3 =  excellent relationship – high levels of trust and respect

2 =  quite good relationship, reasonable levels of trust and respect

1 =  poor relationship, low levels of trust and respect

0 = non-existent relationship, no trust or respect.

Then using a simple questionnaire, I solicited the responses from a sample of the people involved in the change project. Adding up the scores gives me a figure with a maximum score of 9. I turned this into a percentage and inverted it  (deduct from 100%) to obtain the % of distrust – because it is the shortfall in trust that acts as an drag on the time and cost of change. And I found that applying the distrust % directly yo the planned time and cost of a project gave me a pretty good idea of the potential impact of distrust on the ROI of the project.

So, if the trust score is low, say 3, that gives me a trust % of 33%. Deducting that from 100 gives a measure of distrust factor of 67%. Applying this measure to a project with a planned roll-out of 1 year and an implementation cost of £40,000 would add 8 months and around £27,000 to the cost.

In my experience, this seems to correlate well with what happens in practice – the lower the level of trust, the longer it takes to implement the projects and gain the benefits.

Let me know if you find this useful.

A fuller account of this approach is contained in my book: The Change Equation.

April 28, 2011 Posted by | business change management, project and programme management, trust | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

If you could improve your change project’s ROI by 10%, what would that be worth to you?

In my seminar in February, I showed how the Change Equation methodology provides a way to quickly identify and quantify the barriers to a successful change project.

Due to the high demand for places at this free event, I have arranged to run another seminar on 25th March at the City Business Library at the Guildhall in London.

DATE:  2pm-4.30pm on Friday 25th March.

WHERE: City Business Library, Aldermanbury, London EC2V 7HH

TO BOOK: email

This seminar is free but you have to book your place in advance. Don’t leave it too late to book your place!

More information about the seminar at:

Why attend the seminar?

Change projects have a tendency to fail – in fact only 70% ever deliver their full benefits.

Peter Duschinsky, Managing Director, The Imaginist Company, says that this is because most project managers and their bosses underestimate the complexity of their projects and overestimate the capability of the organisation to cope with change. That’s because project risk and complexity is not linear, but EXPONENTIAL.

Peter goes on to claim that conventional change management interventions designed to control the outcomes of a project will FAIL completely if it’s a truly complex project.

So how do you know if your project is complex? And how do you assess the capability of your organisation to cope with change? Come along and find out!

If you could improve your change programme’s ROI by 10%, what would that be worth to you?

Here’s what people said about the 2010 seminar series:

“Many thanks, Peter, for the seminar during the week, which I found very useful”

“Thanks Peter, I came away with plenty of food for thought after your seminar.”

“Just a short email to thank-you for this afternoons session. I found the content and your style very smooth making the knowledge easy to take in.”

“Thank you very much for the ‘How to manage complex change’ seminar, the ‘Management Culture’ model was excellent as well as the ‘Exponential Complexity.

March 8, 2011 Posted by | business change management, mergers and acquisitions, project and programme management, Project Readiness Healthcheck | Leave a comment

Free Seminar: How to manage complex change projects – and succeed!

Change projects have a tendency to fail – in fact only 70% ever deliver their full benefits!

That’s because most project managers and their bosses underestimate the complexity of their projects and overestimate the capability of the organisation to cope with change.

And that’s because project risk and complexity is not linear, but EXPONENTIAL!

I would also claim that conventional change management interventions designed to control the outcomes of a project will cause it to FAIL completely if it’s a truly complex project.

So how do you know if your project is complex? And how do you assess the capability of your organisation to cope with change?

Come along to the City of London Business Library at 10am on 17th February and find out!

This is one of a series of free workshops and seminars being held in 2011 to support the marketing of my book: ‘The Change Equation’ and our Project Readiness Healthcheck – a simple-to-use process to ensure your projects succeed.

After the seminar there will be time to discuss specific projects if you need advice and think the Change Equation might provide some insights you could take back and use.

Here’s what people said about the 2010 seminar series:
“Many thanks, Peter, for the seminar during the week, which I found very useful”
“Thanks Peter, I came away with plenty of food for thought after your seminar.”
“Just a short email to thank-you for this afternoons session. I found the content and your style very smooth making the knowledge easy to take in.”
“Thank you very much for the ‘How to manage complex change’ seminar. The ‘Management Culture’ model was excellent as well as the ‘Exponential Complexity Tool’.”

The seminar is free but you have to book your place in advance.

January 21, 2011 Posted by | business change management, project and programme management, Project Readiness Healthcheck | Leave a comment

How do the “soft” elements (people, culture, innovation, etc.) impact the success of M&As?

I recently came across this question in a LinkedIn discussion and thought it worthy of a blog. Because we all agree that the ‘soft’ elements (people, culture, innovation etc.) represent the critical factor in the success or failure of a merger, don’t we?

The problem, as many of the contributions to the discussion pointed out, is how to convince senior management that the ‘just do it’ approach has a significant chance of failing. The secret, I have found, is to develop a quantified analysis and business case for time and resources to tackle these issues and to communicate this in a language that the Board understands – impact on the ROI of the project.

But how to turn ‘soft’ issues into hard financials?

I came up against this challenge when trying to argue the case for taking a more people-focused approach to change projects. It became clear to me in working with public sector organisations that most projects failed to deliver the planned benefits because the complexity of what they were trying to achieve was not within the capability of the organisation to cope with yet another change initiative. But senior management were not interested.

So I came up with a Change Readiness Healthcheck methodology to:

1. Map the predominant culture (or cultures – depending on the size of the organisation, there’s probably more than one) of the two organisations. For example, the level of knowledge sharing, silo working, alignment…

2. Assess the maturity of their capability to manage process – weakness here can spell disaster when it comes to bringing in new systems

3. Measure the level of distrust and lack of respect in relationships between people – the higher the high level of distrust, the harder it will be to achieve integration and the more time and effort you will need to overcome the barriers.

4. Establish where the project lies on an Exponential Complexity scale, from ‘Simple’ to ‘Too Complex’, where the components include the scope, number of stakeholders and timescales.

The resulting findings provide a ‘dashboard’ of indicators which accurately predict the potential for success and can be expressed in terms of quantified impact on the project business plan’s projected ROI.

With a merger, the first three factors are the critical ones. Map the organisational cultures of the two organisations, assess their process management capability and establish the relative levels of distrust. If these are very different between the organisations, or if they show significant weaknesses in both organisations, you are in for a bumpy ride and, at the very least, need to allocate a skilled and experienced manager to handling the transition and integration. Worst case, you have the ammunition to oppose the merger.

The most important stage in the merger is before you start. With the right insights, you stand a chance of investing wisely. Going in blind makes no sense. Companies understand this when it comes to balance sheets and financials, but don’t seem to have grasped the need for a parallel due diligence analysis of ‘capability’.

I advocate the use of the Change Readiness Healthcheck as a due diligence tool when planning a merger or acquisition, to supplement whatever other methods are used. There are no other methodologies around that I have found as useful, to help you to assess and benchmark these ‘soft’ aspects, quickly and objectively.

We can offer a rapid assessment for a specific M&A or help you build this into your standard due diligence process.

Peter Duschinsky

Tel: 07801802571


September 10, 2010 Posted by | business, business change management, M&A, mergers and acquisitions, project and programme management, Project Readiness Healthcheck | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Peter Duschinsky, Imaginist – he can help you ensure a successful change project outcome

I have been a management consultant focusing on best practice for more years than I care to think about, and for the past 8 of these, I have operated as the Imaginist – someone who can analyse, think logically and laterally, diagnose underlying causes of problems and facilitate change.

There are 3 stages to this:
1. Imagine it
2. Structure it
3. Make it happen.

The first stage is about understanding what is going on and uncovering the risks and barriers to change. Too often, change projects are planned and implemented with little real insight into the organisation’s underlying culture and process capability weaknesses. These will slow down or even stop a project delivering the desired benefits.

– Does your organisation suffer from internal politics, silo working and distrust across departments?
– Do people like to ‘do their own thing’ and find work-arounds whenever they can?
– Are you overloaded with initiatives?

The more ambitious the project, the more people are affected, the more these weaknesses will block buy-in, undermine take-up and sabotage compliance to new ways of working.

It’s not sufficient that you recognise these barriers – you have to be able to convince the Board, project sponsors, budget-holders etc of the time and resources that need to be allocated to deal with them.

An Imaginist works by talking to stakeholders, developing an understanding of the underlying culture and process capability issues and putting this into a structured diagnostic framework which enables him to quantify their impact on the ROI of the project. Spreadsheets – that’s the language a senior manager understands!

So at the second stage, ‘Structure it’, the emphasis is on developing the route-map and action plan that the project team need to tackle the risks and barriers and to ensure the project goes smoothly and to plan.

Then, ‘Make it happen’ is a matter of supporting the in-house team with the skills and tools they need. Because the first two stages have identified exactly where the barriers to change lie,
it won’t cost a fortune to apply these precisely where they are needed to achieve a successful outcome.

The Imaginist can help you ensure a successful project outcome.

For more details, contact Peter Duschinsky on
or visit his website:

September 8, 2010 Posted by | business change management, project and programme management | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Change Equation – an excellent tool to help make change happen

At a software quality workshop a few years back, I asked a group of 25 software project managers:
“When a new system is implemented to improve efficiency, who is responsible for actually achieving the benefits?”
“I am” said one project manager.
“Really?” I said.
“Oh, I see – it’s the software supplier” came the response.
“Really?” I said, again.
After a pause for thought: “You mean it’s the client”
“Okay – but who?”
Tentatively: “The department manager?”
Silence, from me… “The system users?”

No doubt you are way ahead of me… But this is a serious point. Unless the people actually using the new system or improved process are involved in planning and implementing the changes to the way they work, the project will not realise the anticipated benefits. As the comedian George Carlin famously put it: “I put a dollar in one of those change machines. Nothing changed.”

It’s people, not systems and processes that are the drivers for change. We all know this, so why is it so hard for us to put this understanding into practice? Sometimes it is the culture of the organisation that works against gaining involvement and commitment at the local level. Often the ‘technology push’ mentality still prevails – it’s the IT department’s responsibility to manage IT projects. Maybe the management board or the politicians have set the deadlines and they are unrealistic, so they haven’t allocated enough budget, time and skilled resources to ensuring that people are fully bought in. But unless people are fully bought in, of course, nothing will get done.

One of the best ways to articulate this – and a useful tool when trying to get change to happen – is the Change Equation:

 V * F * D > C

Originally developed by David Gleicher in the ‘60s , this has been adopted and adapted by consultants under many names and in many guises over the years. My version has evolved in use and differs in emphasis slightly from the original. Here’s a quick run-through of the way this equation works.

C = Cost of Change
Change is difficult and scary. It’s expensive and distracting. It takes us out of our comfort zone and demands that we confront our fears (‘Do I have the skills?’ ‘Will I screw up?’ Will I have a job afterwards?’). This fear creates inertia, or worse – it can push people in the opposite direction, fleeing and hiding from the need to change. If the cost of change is so great, what do we need to do to create the momentum to overcome it? Well, the first element is Vision.

V = Vision
Any project needs a shared vision to ensure everyone is moving in the same, new, direction. This vision will have emerged from the analysis of the problem being tackled. In most transformation projects, that analysis will have included carrying out a top-down diagnosis, followed by consultation and brainstorming to arrive at something tangible and coherent – the basis on which people can move forward together.

Is having a Vision sufficient to overcome the fear and inertia of change? Maybe not… How often have you been carried away with enthusiasm by a good presenter, setting out their vision, then found the enthusiasm dissipates little by little as you get back to your day-to-day problems? So having a Vision on its own is not enough to drive change. One of the reasons for this – and a primary cause for change projects to deliver poor results – is that the vision (the project’s objectives) is often not sufficiently clearly understood by all the stakeholders – it is not really SHARED. The degree to which stakeholder perceptions differ, provides a good predictor of the problems that will occur when implementing the changes.

Even where the vision has been successfully communicated, it seems that it is not enough on its own to drive change. Why? Because it does not place sufficient focus on the practical steps that need to be taken to implement the change. Which leads me to the next element in the Change Equation:

F = First steps
To drive change, we need to have the first steps clearly set out. These might be in the form of a route-map or project plan that people can understand and use to develop their own plans for the action they need to take. Only at this level of practicality can we engage people and gain some degree of commitment. Is having a Vision and clear First steps enough to overcome the fear and inertia of change? The research carried out when the model was first developed suggested that even when the first steps were clearly set out and everyone knew what they had to do, change still didn’t happen.

What’s missing? It’s the energy and momentum for change. And where does this have to come from? The project champion? The project manager? No… it has to come from the people who need to make the changes – the system and process users. It’s only when people have convinced themselves that things are NOT okay and that there is a need to do something about it NOW, that new ways of thinking can be introduced. Then you can tap into the energy that’s needed to overcome the resistance and inertia. John Kotter, in his book Heart of Change , calls this ‘Raising the sense of urgency’. In the Change Equation its:

D = Dissatisfaction
Unless people can tell you why things have to change, they won’t. A good approach to focus people on this issue and get them to think about it, is the use of the ‘Incisive Questions’ technique.

Here’s an example of a recent conversation:
“Do your projects come in on time and achieve their objectives in full?”
“Most of them”
“What percentage don’t?”
“Oh, probably 10-20%”
“How much does this mean you are losing in cost benefits every year?”
“I don’t know – maybe £xxxk”

“Really?” (showing your surprise should make your victim a bit less complacent about this loss) “Are you happy about that?”
“Well no, I suppose not…”

Notice how each question asks for more detail, driving the respondent to think deeper about his own statement. When they have expressed dissatisfaction with the situation they are in, you can come in with the new idea:
“Would it be useful if we worked out you how you can cut this waste in half so you could use the resources to deliver more projects and increase profit?”
“Er, yes – how do we do that?”

Notice that the idea was phrased so that ‘we’ would work together and ‘you’ could make the improvement. The final ‘yes, how do we do that?’ is the signal that you have triggered the necessary dissatisfaction and have their permission to start tapping into the energy for change. So now the equation looks like this:

Vision + First steps + Dissatisfaction > Cost of Change

Except that I need to do one more thing. The ‘+’ sign suggests that you could take any element out and the equation will stand. You have seen that’s not the case – all three elements on the left hand side of the equation are essential to overcome the inertia and enable change to happen. So I need to change the operands to ‘x’:

Vision x First steps x Dissatisfaction > Cost of Change

And that’s the Change Equation!

[This is an excerpt from my book: ‘The Chaange Equ>tion’, published Nov09 and available from Amazon]

June 1, 2010 Posted by | business change management, knowledge management, project and programme management | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The cost of a failed project is not just what you spent on the project

Are you expecting your next business transformation project to deliver the full planned benefits, on time and within budget?

Really? So what are you going to do differently this time? Or were you just keeping your fingers crossed and hoping for a miracle? You can’t afford to invest in a transformation programme that does not deliver the results you need – look at the cost implications:

Typical change project

You need to achieve efficiency savings of £200k pa by bringing in a new web-based system.

The software licence and web costs will be £40k and it will cost £150k to implement (including allocation of in-house project management and training resources).  The plan is to roll out the system across the organisation over 18 months

So your 3-year business case looks like this:

Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Total /3
Licence, web costs pa £40,000 £40,000 £40,000 £0
Implementation costs £100,000 £50,000 £0 £0
Total Costs £140,000 £90,000 £40,000 £90,000
Savings £50,000 £175,000 £200,000 £142,000
Net £-90,000 £85,000 £160,000 £52,000

Return on investment is +57%, and you hit your full efficiency savings target levels by mid-year 2.
But what happens if the project slips by 6 months?
The 3-year ROI drops to just +2% and it takes over 2 years to reach your efficiency target – but you are also 33% over budget and your implementation resources are tied up on this project, so something else isn’t being done in time either.

What if the project fails completely?
What happens if you cancel the project after 2 years, because it is clear that it will never bring in the full benefits? You have wasted £280,000 and over £400,000 in lost efficiency savings, but that’s not all – you probably have had to take action to limit the impact of the failed project, which may cost you several times what the project cost.

HP’s project managers knew all of the things that could go wrong with their ERP centralisation programme in 2004. But they just didn’t plan for so many of them to happen at once. The project eventually cost HP $160 million in order backlogs and lost revenue — more than five times the project’s estimated cost.

So if you could avoid the second scenario, it would be worth £100,000 and if you could avoid the last scenario, you’d be at least £680,000 in pocket.

What do these figures look like for your project?

If you are interested, we do have some answers…

April 12, 2010 Posted by | business change management, project and programme management | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The world is getting worse for programme managers

I just saw a survey which confirmed something I suspected from my own research: the world is getting more difficult for people responsible for bringing in change projects and programmes successfully, leading to more failed projects and managers spending longer at work, trying to overcome the barriers to successful change.

The Arras People 2010 Project Management Benchmark Survey confirms that:
“a whopping 74% of Programme managers work more than 40 hours per week out of which 40% put in more than 48 hours. This figure is up by 10.3% from the data collected 12 months ago.  Over the twelve month period the Project and Change Manager spreads have shown a slight increase in hours worked. The support group however have seen two interesting moves which indicate additional pressure; firstly an increase in the numbers working < 35 hours by 2% suggesting additional part time roles whilst a 12% increase has been reported in those working more than 40 hours.”

It was already clear from the Standish research that the number of successful projects is falling:  32% in 2009, down from 35% in 2006.  Unless we think there was a drop in project and programme management skills – unlikely – the world we operate in has become that much more challenging.

One of the key reasons for this, the fast-changing economic circumstances, reinforces our view that change programmes have to be phased into short projects so that the risks associated with TIME are reduced.  Time is one of the 3 risk factors we look at in our Exponential Complexity model. (The other two are No of Stakeholders and No of Processes affected.)

As the world becomes a less friendly place for project and programme managers, tools like our model become even more important in your armoury. More on our website:

Happy New Year?

January 13, 2010 Posted by | business change management, project and programme management | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment