The methods that created the crisis are not the same methods that will transform to the expected performance level.
Once your enterprise realizes results are not meeting expectations and they insist performance is improved, it is essential to realize that change is required to transform trajectory and results.
There are early indicators your enterprise is not performing to meet expectations but, often, the early indicators don’t have a significant cost, timing or quality impact so the warning signs don’t result in a call to action. With no real negative impact, the same methods that caused the gap between expected and actual performance continue to be employed causing the performance deviation to grow.
Most organizations have processes in place to discover performance issues. For example, in the case of projects, regular project review meetings are held to check status at defined milestones. Unfortunately, Project Managers have reason to attempt to put the most positive spin on the interpretation of the status of the project. Also, managers either assume the project is under control or often lack the experience to interpret the data and accurately envision the outcome if the current unacceptable trajectory is followed to conclusion. It’s essential for managers to have the experience and wisdom to be able to “smell a rat”. Without it, the troubled project is doomed. Whether because the status is presented with the most positive spin or management lacks the ability to smell a rat, the same methods continue to be used thereby driving the enterprise further into the ditch.
When a project, department, or enterprise finds itself off track, something has to change if it can be expected to improve. The methods that created the crisis are not the same methods that will transform to the expected performance level. The resistance to change has to be removed to maximize effectiveness.
The ideal recovery would be for someone with the experience of having accomplished the objective or meeting performance expectations to work with the existing team or leader to turn the business around. Not only do you end up with the desired results, but the team or leader learns from the process and will be of more value to the enterprise in the future. They learn to see the distinctions between actions and processes that worked and those that didn’t work.
Having said that, times of crisis are rarely situations that you can tolerate a large learning curve. Decisive action is required because you are not meeting stakeholder or customer expectations. There are some very real personal, political and corporate factors that can introduce defensive roadblocks to transformation. People’s egos and weaponized accountability in myopic, short-term thinking in public company boardrooms are examples of compulsion for defending past methods. True transformation requires that results have primary consideration. Defending past actions and explaining how those same processes, systems and political barriers must be respected going forward have no place in a recovery initiative. Again: The methods that created the crisis are not the same methods that will transform to the expected performance level.
So, if your project, department, or enterprise truly wants to close the gap between expected and actual performance, it is essential to realize that change is required to transform trajectory and results.