Project Management Office and Database Admin
In the same way that the field of economics has been transformed by an understanding of uniquely human social, cognitive, and commitment, so too is the practice of change management in need of a transformation through an improved understanding of how humans interpret their environment and choose to act. While sustained impact can be measured only over numbers of years, our early results when applying these insights give us the confidence to broadly share our thinking.
In our experience, one effective way to foster ownership and commitment is to create a project-management office (PMO): a formal entity directly responsible for leading the change effort and monitoring its progress. The PMO should be led by a relatively senior person who reports to a C-level executive—otherwise he or she won’t be taken seriously. Top management must view the role of PMO leader as an important stepping stone for a high performer; in other words, the PMO leader should be someone who is seen as a future C-level executive. Although the ideal PMO leader will be chosen from within the company (so that he or she will have more credibility in the organization), we’ve found that it’s more effective to bring in a skilled leader from outside rather than appoint an insider who doesn’t have the leadership skills to rally the troops.
The “troops” will almost always include staff from different functions. For instance, a sales transformation will most likely involve not just salespeople but also employees in the marketing, finance, and product-development functions. At a large CPG manufacturer, a hand-picked representative from every relevant function devoted 20 percent of his or her time to the PMO for 12 to 24 months and reported to the PMO leader as either a direct or dotted-line report. The entire team had joint goals related to the transformation, and these goals were linked to each team member’s performance appraisals and compensation.
The PMO should consist primarily of high-performing individuals, but it should also include up-and-comers who would benefit from the training and increased responsibilities. In addition, some companies deliberately assign to the PMO a few valued employees who are perceived as roadblocks—people who may initially be opposed to the transformation—to understand and address their concerns.
But ownership and commitment among the PMO staff won’t be enough; the rest of the company has to get on board as well. To that end, leaders should ensure that several critical elements are in place early on, including top-team alignment on the transformation’s “change story” and aspirations, specific targets for both performance and health across all the relevant business functions, and visible and committed leadership at all levels. Frequent and varied communication is essential.
When a state government agency embarked on a large-scale transformation, executives kept all stakeholders informed about its progress using a range of written communications—e-mail updates, a new internal newsletter, intranet stories, webinars during which employees could ask questions anonymously—as well as in-person forums such as town halls and department meetings. The CEO kicked off the change program and, every six months, sent out a company-wide letter celebrating its achievements. In each of the company’s four geographic regions, the senior executive directly in charge of the transformation held a town hall and fielded questions from employees. The PMO leader hosted open forums and gave monthly progress updates either in person or in writing.
We work closely with owners and contractors to achieve higher lifecycle returns for their large capital projects, in less time and with greater predictability, by moving from traditional management to a activity-focused project approach for end-to-end project delivery.
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