What We Think
Imagine competing against an organisation with the structure, processes and skills to react instantly to client requests or shifts in the market. Imagine further that it has a framework for appraising opportunities which delivers great decisions but minimises delay in getting approval for expenditure.
Now imagine that its directors have real-time information about the availability of resources and can delegate responsibility for assignments to managers who have the planning and execution skills to deliver a quality result every time. Finally imagine that they have a strong and growing portfolio of customers who have benefited and are happy to endorse their work..
Imagine if you are that organisation!
At Vondel, we work with organisations who recognise the limitations of traditional approaches to leadership and whose ambition to succeed gives them the courage to step out of their comfort zones to construct an organisation of exquisite agility.
Turning Traditional Leadership on its Head
If you ask people to draw the leadership structure of your organisation they will generally produce something that looks like this:
This 'triangular' shape is logical and represents the gradual reduction of cohort size at each successive level of management.
The archetype here is military with power flowing from a single, senior figure whose elevation above the fray affords the clearest perspective from which to direct all moving parts. It is a resilient structure with a satisfying stability. It is attractive to those concerned with corporate governance and the allocation of resources. It implies a hierarchical career ladder that rewards success with promotion.
Turn representation on its head and a new archetype appears: the family.
In this archetype, the directors have a role similar to parents, acting as a point of balance for more junior members of the group.
Inherently unstable, this model only holds together if every member embraces the needs of others and buys into a set of core values around collaboration. The inverted triangle's instability emphasises the importance of lateral communication and unselfish teamwork. In the context of this inverted triangle empowerment becomes a mechanism for sharing a leaders burden, not a threat to their power-base.
Agility, and particularly agility at scale, requires leaders at every level in organisations to recognise the paradoxical demands of both paradigms, drawing energy from the dynamic tension this creates.
Agile Change Leadership
The Look at most organigrams and Furthermore, recent research shows that organisations can raise project success rates from 47% to 70% by adopting a single methodology that can be used to run initiatives of whatever size and is obligatory for any work over a specified minimum size, complexity or risk profile.
In the past our focus was primarily on developing project leadership skills. This remains the case but now Vondel is increasingly asked to help companies design systems that put projects at the core of every aspect of their thinking.
WHERE DO LEADERS NEED PROJECT SKILLS?
There are two key transitions in a corporate career path and an understanding of projects will be particularly helpful at both:
- From Executive to Manager:
Managers have to be able to scope objectives, create timelines, delegate tasks, manage resources, identify risks and motivate a team. The chances are that an executive’s first opportunity to demonstrate these skills will be as a project manager.
‘Practical Project Management’ has been part of Vondel’s core offering for a number of years and gives executives they need to become effective in leading small to medium sized projects.
- From Manager to Director:
A director’s role is to establish a strategic direction and then allocate their company’s resources to achieve pre-agreed targets.
A project sponsor who consistently delivers high returns on the resources allocated to them is demonstrating their readiness for more permanent directorial responsibility.
‘Effective Executive Sponsorship’ is a four day training programme intended to help people become better sponsors. It combines modules on strategy with commercial awareness and project sponsorship.
The Business Strategy module lasts one day and shows people how to turn their corporate objectives and business plan into a programme for change (sometimes known as a Programme Blueprint).
The Commercial Awareness module subdivides into two day-long sessions. The first day, Essential Finance, enables delegates to truly understand their company’s three key financial statements: the balance sheet, the profit and loss account and the cash flow statement. They also learn the importance of efficient working capital management and maximising cash flow, as well as the ten key measures to check any company’s financial health.
The second day covers costs, break-even analysis, budgeting and how to evaluate different investment opportunities (both in financial and non-financial terms). Having completed both days, all delegates will be able to draw up a robust business plan, aligned with Mediacom’s strategic objectives.
The Project Sponsorship module explains project processes and roles. (In companies where these are clearly defined we would expect to work within your framework of documents, phases and procedures. Where there is no single approach we would be happy to assist you in creating one.)
Delegates will be taught what to look for in a project manager, how to work with them in establishing a scope and how to support them with coaching or mentoring throughout the delivery phase. They will learn how to spot problems early and intervene decisively when required.
The project sponsor is ultimately accountable for delivering the business benefits identified in the project cost/benefit analysis, so the day will also contain important modules on change management and benefits realisation. (In standard English this means ensuring that the project delivers the return on investment that was specified in the original brief.)
We can also help companies looking to create a project based leadership culture by advising them on how to:
- Create a single company-wide methodology. (Recent research by the Project Management Institute shows that this can raise project success rates from 47% to 70%!)
- Keep this methodology up to date and support the people who are using it with practical advice and help.
- Create a project server on which all project plans can be stored so that business leaders can generate real-time reports on the state of projects and resource levels through our strategic partners, Programme Framework.
If reading this has prompted you to think differently about how your organisation can align itself with project principles and you want to know more please get in touch for a free consultation about how Vondel can help.