Numerous studies report that a sizable percentage of projects fail to meet their business objectives. According to McKinsey, transformations fail to deliver results at an incredible 70% rate (1). The Project Management Institute (PMI) has been reporting on this for years and the failure rate hovers near 35%(2). Regardless of the study you read, the number is too high, and costs organizations hundreds of millions of dollars of lost value or wasted effort. Why is this? Why don’t the statistics improve year-to-year? Because the root cause of this issue is not owned by project managers or change managers assigned to the transformation effort.
Annual studies performed by PROSCI regularly state that the number one challenge for projects is active and visible sponsorship (3). The root cause of the issue is that senior leaders don’t always know what they need to do to drive success, or worse yet, don’t want to be involved. For both groups I offer the answer to this question, “If this transformation is important enough to spend your money, how do you make it important enough to spend your time?”
The answer is this; the transformational leadership trifecta spells out the three areas where leaders must be actively engaged to drive successful change. Those three areas include clear purpose, aligned leaders, and enrolled employees.
Take a moment and answer these questions for yourself:
- Clear purpose: For a transformation you are driving in your organization, is the purpose clear? Do employees understand the end-state? Do they understand what you are trying to achieve?
- Aligned leaders: If you asked the third or fourth level of leadership to explain the desired outcomes of the transformation, what would you hear? Would you hear enough similarity to know you are on the right track, or would the answers be so different that you have cause for alarm?
- Enrolled employees: Do front line employees know how work will be different, and what they need to do to achieve the desired outcomes?
If you experienced no hesitation answering any of these questions positively, then you are in good shape, and you are in the minority. You are a trendsetter where it is quite likely that your transformation will succeed. Congratulations!
I recently had the opportunity to present a webinar (membership required) on this topic for the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) global organization. Regardless of how you answered the questions above you will find value in reviewing this.
Dedicated to your profitable transformation,