Right now there’s a perfect storm where business leaders have limited budget and headspace, yet they face some of the biggest, most immediate challenges they’ve ever encountered and may not have the skillsets they need in-house.
Firstly, shall we try and sum up this perfect storm without using the dreaded “C” word?
- Businesses and indeed whole industries are grappling with new ways of reaching their customers/clients, new ways of interacting with them and managing their business
- The rate of environmental change means affected businesses aren’t necessarily keen or able to take on new perm staff to handle this
- There isn’t the time or the money available to sink into longwinded projects
- Already frayed, nobody needs another initiative demanding the leadership team hold their nerve and commit to months or years of waiting for indicators to confirm whether or not they’re pursuing the right solutions
That’s what makes the formation of small, hyper-focused, independent and empowered teams a most useful approach to staring down business challenges and circumventing the mire of organisational politics.
James McQuivey, Ph.D, VP, Principal Analyst at Forrester told the FT years ago that small, independent teams are critical to “digital transformation” projects.
I’d say (and perhaps James would agree!) that the term “digital transformation” is now pretty outdated (that’s a post for another time!), but the idea of small, independent, hyper-focused teams, is seeing renewed relevance in today’s world.
When given a mandate direct from an organisation’s leaders, these groups can leverage their distance from day-to-day organisational politics to propose the best ideas, regardless of the impact they may have on entrenched behaviours and beliefs.
If these teams are empowered to test in real time, their ideas can fast be proven either worthy of further research, or without merit, so little time, energy and money is spent figuring out next steps or pursuing the wrong priorities.
This can very quickly produce a roadmap for change and improvement with the priority of learning and delivering quick wins as well as shaping longer term strategic thinking.
This sounds great, but…
Although the people inside an organisation are wizards at their craft, do they know how to perform in this kind of group?
And to ask them to try without support or guidance would be setting them and the organisation up for failure.
So, who could move fast, and focus on delivering value now but also get learnings for later? Who can work with a tiny, cross-functional set of domain wizards from within your organisation and coach them to successfully solve the biggest organisational challenges you’re facing? Who can help set and then work to a mandate and KPIs supported by leadership but with little need for oversight?
Consider bringing someone in whose whole mission is THIS. Someone who’s job has always been THIS. Someone who has done exactly THIS time and time again.
Bring them in as a freelance consultant, part time, a few days a week to guide, coach and work with your existing team. Virtually, if that’s what works right now.
Give them the contacts, give them the timescale for reporting back and give them a budget and see what they can tell you for that money and in that time.
If it’s good, you learned something;
If it isn’t, you learned what doesn’t work without spending too much;
If you want more, keep working with them.
Does this sound like a good, low risk solution for you as you navigate your business through today’s storm?
Sincere good luck as you chart your course!
Katy worked with members of our team to ID what success was for us, then designed and executed a cycle of testing to challenge some of our most tightly held hypotheses.
It can be tough to hear that things aren’t always as they seem, but committing to the process and being open to the outcomes has put us in a far more competitive position for the future.
Simon, Strategy Director