Author: Cynthia Low

Leadership Characteristics – A Shift In Requirements?

For the past 20 years, a piece of work often quoted in relation to the required Characteristics of Admired Leaders has been The Leadership Challenge. First released in 1987 by Kouzes and Posner, the book has become one of the best-selling leadership books of all time. As part of their research and ongoing data collection, they ask the question, “What values (or characteristics) do you look for and admire in your leader?” Respondents are asked to select from a list of 20 characteristics, the seven qualities they feel are the most critical for leaders to have.

Over time, across continents and cross culturally, the same four, (and only four) characteristics that have continuously received over 50% of the votes are honesty, forward-looking (visionary), competent, and inspiring. What people look for the most in an admired leader has stayed constant, according to this data, for almost 20 years, and honesty has always been listed as number one.

It is interesting therefore to compare the results of a recent study released by IBM who surveyed 1500 CEOs and published the outcome in a report entitled “Capitalizing on Complexity – Insights from the Global Chief Executive Officer Study“.

The CEOs were asked to prioritize the three most important leadership qualities that were needed in the new economic environment. The results showed there was a widely shared perspective that creativity was the single most important leadership competency for enterprises seeking a path through the complexity of global integration. The top three required competencies were considered to be creativity, integrity and global thinking.

If we were to compare the two sets of data, we can match integrity from the IBM report to honesty in the Kouzes and Posner material, but creativity and global thinking represent a significant shift in the way we see the needs of effective leadership today. In fact, creativity didn’t even feature as one of the top 20 most desired characteristics in the Kouzes and Posner data, and yet in the IBM study, creativity received 60% of the votes as the most important characteristic leaders need to have today.

Creative Leadership is seen as a growing “must have” for those who recognize what it takes to stay ahead of the competition. Creativity breeds innovation, and savvy companies are constantly looking for new ideas to create competitive advantage. It is no longer acceptable to simply do what you already do and just be really good at it. In today’s information age everybody knows what you can do and how you do it. Your competition is looking for ways to disrupt your technology; offer a more price competitive option; offer the next generation of what you have or even something completely different that will make your option obsolete very quickly.

The IBM study goes on to state that CEOs recognize that Creative Leadership will require them to shed some long held beliefs and to create original rather than traditional approaches. They must be ready to upset the status quo even if it is successful. They must equip their entire organization to be a catalyst for creativity. For most leadership teams, this requires an entirely new set of capabilities.

So how can we help people to become good Creative Leaders? How can leadership teams learn this new set of capabilities? It is not a case of leaders being more creative themselves. It is more a need for them to recognize how to create a culture of innovation within their teams whereby creativity is encouraged to thrive and grow into real time ideas that can be put into practice.

A good place to begin is by recognizing and overcoming three big myths of innovation:

  1. Innovation is primarily the role of the lone genius, or charismatic entrepreneur.
    Not so. Most innovations occur as the result of teamwork, not the individual effort. Additionally, in the best organizations, innovation is everyone’s business.
  2. Most valuable innovation happens in the laboratory.
    Not so. Innovation opportunities are everywhere within organizations (services, products, systems, processes, structures, models).
  3. Innovation requires extraordinary creative and visionary talents.
    Not so. The reality is that people have a wide range of gifts and talents that can be accessed to create innovations.

Once we have recognized that innovation and creativity is everywhere, leaders can make a significant difference in a team’s innovation effectiveness by focusing on three things: fostering Virtuosity, injecting Creative Tension, and creating an environment of Serious Play.

Virtuosity

How do you bring out the talents and best gifts of all team members? People have an abundance of innovation gifts and talents that are available (with good Creative Leadership) for team projects. Leaders can be instrumental in bringing out the best in others by constantly seeking out, identifying and fostering these talents. Some ideas to try:

  • See people at their best.
  • Listen extraordinarily carefully to hear what team members love to do.
  • Challenge people to work outside of their expertise.
  • Stop being and thinking you are the smartest, most talented person on the team.
  • Find ways to reorganize and utilize individual talents.
  • Find out what team members excel at when not at work.
  • Encourage people to bring their best game to the team’s work.

Creative Tension

Traditionally, managers have seen their role as taking tension out of the system. Creativity and innovation needs tension to flourish. By introducing a healthy Creative Tension into the team, leaders can motivate team members to challenge the status quo, generate new possibilities and embrace change as inevitable. You need to confront team members to think differently, try new ideas and reach for their highest aspirations. Change the status quo in the team yourself by:

  • Changing everyone’s role.
  • Rewarding wild ideas.
  • Making bold public promises on behalf of the team.
  • Introducing disruptive elements.
  • Confronting team members with their highest aspirations.
  • Bringing in customers for a day.

Serious Play

Leaders can help to foster creativity by nurturing an environment of what can be termed Serious Play, an environment where innovation and change are encouraged. This can help teams recognize how to grow their ideas from thoughts to implementation and, ultimately, real results.

Consider these key elements of Serious Play and create an innovative working environment by:

  • Stimulus. Bring stimulating venues, objects, processes, etc. into the team environment to help team members tap into the human brain’s natural ability to make associations, connections and intuitive leaps.
  • Prototyping. Keep ideas alive and in the organization’s consciousness by constantly creating working models, images, illustrations, etc.
  • Selling. Bring seriousness to an innovation by selling it to organizational constituents.

Try a few of these ideas, and you may find that Creative Leadership is not just the domain of the R & D department. It can be very rewarding both for you and your organization.

Don’t forget to leave your comments below


Bryn Meredith is Vice President, Client Services at Bluepoint Leadership Development. He can be reached by email.

Is There Life after Requirements? Part 1.

IsThereLifeAfter1Tools that Support Business Process Improvement

So you have a requirements plan. You have elicited functional, non-functional, and quality of service require­ments. You have validated and verified them, and your stakeholders are satisfied. Now what?

I like to think of the requirements part of a business analysis project as the analysis function; that is, to answer the questions “What do we have and what do we need?” The next step is to evaluate and answer the question “Is it any good, and what improvements can be made to the process?”

The overall process may look something like this.

NEED > REQUIREMENTS > AS IS > ANALYSIS > EVALUATION > TO BE
> COMMUNICATE > IMPLEMENT

Business process improvement is based on a model-oriented approach that requires a robust set of tools for a consistent and thorough application.

Relationship of Tools and Techniques

Commercial modeling and analysis tools are usually designed to be as general-purpose as possible to gain the widest possible base of users. The tools typically focus on specific modeling techniques; but in some cases, the tools may not enforce the modeling syntax and procedures. Enforcement of the appropriated modeling syntax and procedures of these techniques must be a basic requirement for consideration of individual tools.

Note that the same technique can play various roles within the entire improvement program. A repository capa­bility is generally required to integrate the myriad techniques and tools within the context of an overall method­ological approach. An example would be a standard requirements document and a list of organization-accepted models.

Tool support for AS-IS modeling needs to facilitate data gathering and synthesis of the model. Once built, the model must be analyzable to identify improvement opportunities. As a minimum, tool support for TO-BE mod­eling must allow easy modification and reorganization of the AS-IS model to generate the TO-BE model. Ulti­mately, TO-BE modeling support should allow modeling teams to easily incorporate “best practice” templates. Deriving the TO-BE process model from the AS-IS is a difficult task that must be supported by other techniques.

Business rules define the fundamental structure for business management and are relatively stable when compared to processes. Many different business processes can use the same set of business rules. A change in business rules, however, can facilitate a significant modification of the associated business process. Current business rules, reflected by an AS-IS model, can help define and clarify the basic nature of a business process, independent of the current organization and resources. New business rules, depicted by a TO-BE model, define fundamental changes that can lead to significant streamlining of a business process. At a minimum, a modeling tool must support rigorous definition of business rules and facilitate easy modification.

Basic Tool Functions

Within an emerging, business process improvement effort, support tools should satisfy the following requirements.

  • Model Management. Versioning, keeping straight the different versions, and configuration control of models are required to keep track of various iterations of AS-IS and TO-BE models and the interrelation­ship between the functional focus of various teams.
  • Model Authoring. Both graphical and natural language facilities are required for the rapid and effec­tive creation of models. Unlike mere drawing tools, modeling semantics and rules must be enforced by the supporting software.
  • Model Analysis and Validation. An advanced set of functions are needed to validate models for logical consistency and completeness. Once validated, these models must support the analysis to help discover opportunities to improve the overall effectiveness of the business processes.
  • Model Integration and Mapping. A total enterprise-wide, broad, multiple-organization process model cannot and should not be created as the result of a single project. Instead, specific views should be created and validated and then integrated on an evolutionary basis to create a comprehensive, enterprise-wide definition.
  • Model Presentation. A comprehensive set of graphing and textual reporting tools are required to facilitate effective presentation of modeling results at both technical and managerial levels. These reporting capabilities should include the ability to generate English-like statements of complex business rules.
  • Model Transformation. Modeling results need to be fed directly to a variety of tools and other implementation environments through the use of model transformation functions and custom inter­faces. Possible transformation capabilities might include the ability to automatically generate relational database structures to support heuristic prototyping of conceptual business rules.

Tool Integration Strategy

No single modeling tool is currently capable of performing all the types of modeling and analysis needed for business analysis, and new types of analyses will continue to evolve as the business analysis discipline matures. Therefore, an open-tool architecture that allows multiple tools to share model definitions through common languages is required.

Business rules define the fundamental structure for business management and are relatively stable when compared to processes. Many different business processes can use the same set of business rules. A change in business rules, however, can facilitate a significant modification of the associated business process. Current business rules, reflected by an AS-IS model, can help define and clarify the basic nature of a business process independent of the current organization and resources. New business rules, depicted by a TO-BE model, define fundamental changes that can lead to significant streamlining of a business process. At a minimum, a modeling tool must support rigorous definition of business rules and facilitate easy modification.

Work Simplification

In this age of automation, we have a tendency to become so involved in the designing and programming of the ultimate system that we tend to forget the art of “Work Simplification.” This is a serious omission, because work simplification is the foundation of the systems and business analysis concepts.

What Is Work Simplification?

Work simplification is the organized application of common sense to eliminate waste of any kind, such as time, energy, space, and imagination, through simpler or better ways of doing work.

Elimination of waste implies getting results, not merely talking about it. Results come from better methods only when they are enthusiastically employed by the people concerned. Work simplification never overlooks the importance of acceptance of the new method by the people who will use it. The leaders in scientific manage­ment have long recognized the importance of enthusiastic cooperation. They developed and installed better methods only to return shortly to find that the people on the job have reverted to old methods. These leaders recognized the problem involved the most difficult and highest type of selling – the selling of an idea. People buy what they want rather than what is good for them or what they need. The first and most important problem is to get the individuals involved into the act. Participation built on understanding stimulates interest, initiative, and imagination and results in enthusiastic cooperation.

Work simplification is not a speed-up program. It does not mean asking anyone to work harder or faster. It is an attempt to “work smarter – not harder.” If it were a speed-up, we might commit the error of speeding up all parts of a job, both the necessary and unnecessary. The stimulating thing about this course is that it recognizes that no one knows the details of a job better than the person doing the job. If we can help maintain an open mind, think objectively about work, and systematically apply some of the simple tools of analysis, the worker will do a better job and be a better team member.

A Brief History

People from the earliest days have been inventors and builders of machines. The Chinese invented a method of block printing to replace slow hand lettering. Around 1450, the first crude printing press was invented using movable type, and productivity increased again.

The 18th century changes from hand labor to machine came so fast that this period is called the Industrial Revolution.

In 1764, the spinning jenny superseded the manually operated spinning wheel.

Then came the loom in 1785 and the steam engine with motor power in 1787.

The great-grandfather of our modern lathe was introduced in 1784, and the milling machine in 1808.

The invention of the electric motor in 1837 opened up new fields for machines to replace hand labor.

All through the 19th century, more and more machines were developed to take over the jobs done by hand. Writers called this period the “period of invention and mechanization,” lasting from 1785 to 1885, about 100 years.

Now let’s look at the next period, which was a continuation of the mechanization but with something new added.

In 1885, Frederick W. Taylor introduced what was later called “scientific management” when his scientific stud­ies of fatigue in the steel pits increased productivity 400%. In the same year, Taylor introduced time studies and, later, wage incentives. On many jobs, productivity doubled. His research in the art of cutting materials revolu­tionized machine shop production.

Mr. Taylor was followed by the Gilbreths, Frank and Lillian. The Gilbreths introduced a more refined technique; scientific management but with some new angles: motion analysis and motion study. As a contractor, Frank Gilbreth developed methods and materials in the brick-laying portion of the contracting business in the possibil­ity of laying 350 bricks per hour compared to 120 per hour with the old method. Gilbreth was really applying another form of scientific management, the principle of motion economy. Consider this the second phase of the industrial development of improved productivity, namely the “Period of the Expert.” This period extended from 1885 to about 1935 and, of course, in reality, still continues.

Participation-Industry

The period 1910-1940, characterized by greater industrial development and increased capacity, saw the spec­tacular rise of the efficiency expert who flashed his stop watch here and there and ultimately doomed himself to failure. He left a psychological scar on the labor force of America. It was apparent that people could not be pushed, predicted, and calibrated by using the same approach to them as one would use on a piece of machin­ery.

Clerical and Administrative

There is somewhat of a parallel in the administrative and clerical fields to the industrial developments. Starting in 1885, with the invention of the typewriter, there was a transition period from the quill pen and male secretary to the typewriter and the female secretary. There was a transition from bookkeepers at roll top desks to folks at calculating machines. We moved from manual sorting to IBM, with the latest electronic machines capable of sorting six digit numbers at the rate of 10,000 cards per hour. And today, on a computer, we can sort half a mil­lion characters per hour and print 1,500 lines of type per minute. Compare this with the manual method of 300 and 500 cards per hour. We have adopted many other mechanical ways making it possible to increase productiv­ity by mechanization. In the office we have been, for the most part, strictly “expertizing.” We had the efficiency expert who tried to do a good job. However, most times he didn’t even have the support of management.

Approach to Work Simplification

The basic approach to achieve our objectives of doing a better job, with less effort and time at the lowest pos­sible cost is to:

  • Eliminate the unnecessary parts of a process
  • Combine and rearrange the rest of the process
  • Simplify the necessary part of the process

The sequence cannot be changed, because it incorporates fundamentals of mental discipline we must follow in order to acquire and keep our objectivity. If we are to have an open mind to review a job, the first question is whether or not it is necessary. If it isn’t, stop right there. Too often effort is made to combine, rearrange, or simplify jobs that should not exist.

A method-minded member is usually a good employee and their method-mindedness is usually contagious so that other employees will also be method-minded. Such people are of great aid to procedures personnel. The objectives and benefits of work simplification can be more easily and readily obtained through the participation of as many employees as possible; it cannot be achieved satisfactorily merely by a particular group assigned to study such matters.

Obstacles to Work Simplification

If the objectives of work simplification are not new, and it is obvious that everyone should wish to find simpler and better ways of doing work, why don’t we get more action? The best improvements in the manner of office work performance may produce discouraging results because of employee attitudes and reactions. This has been summarized in four words, “employee resistance to change.”

There are four definite reasons why we resist change.

  1. Change disrupts work habits.
  2. Change disrupts complacency.
  3. Change implies criticism.
  4. Change affects security.

1. Work Habits
How do you feel when you try to change a habit? The same is true with work habits. Work habits are very diffi­cult to change. It has been said that habit is a cable. We weave a cable piece every day until we cannot break it. Habits are a curse, in a sense, because they take control of us and, in effect, force us to resist change. We want to avoid the situation where an improved routine is put in place over someone’s “dead body.”

 

2. Complacency
Complacency is the “Leave me alone, don’t change it” attitude. It is easy to acquire.

One of the main obstacles we find in industry is the resistance to change. Changing methods, apparatus, equip­ment, systems, forms, routines, and even people, meets resistance. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that there always is and always will be change. Resistance to change is not new; history is full of classic examples of people who assumed that certain things were good just as they were. Here are a few examples involving names you will recognize are,

Commodore Vanderbilt, when approached by George Westinghouse about an air brake, replied, “I have no time to listen to fools who want to blow air on wheels to stop trains.”

Bankers told Arthur Pitney that his proposition to print postage on envelopes was impossible. “Can’t you under­stand that allowing private individuals to print postage directly on envelopes amounts to allowing them to print United States currency?”

Chauncey Depew admitted late in life that he advised his nephew not to invest $5,000 in Ford Company stock because “nothing has yet to come along to best the horse.”

In the industrial field, one man stands out as a pioneer in breaking down resistance to change; that man is Mr. Charles Kettering. Kettering had many troubles; one was painting automobiles. Back in 1922, General Motors and other automobile manufacturers had trouble delivering enough cars. The warehouses were full of unfinished cars because they couldn’t paint them fast enough. Kettering called in some paint experts. They sat down and began to tell him why it took 33 days to paint a Cadillac and 22 days to paint a Buick. He told them he didn’t want to know why it takes so long, but what could be done to improve it. They spent three days discussing it and then advised him that they were sorry but nothing could be done to improve or reduce painting time. “Because,” they said, “painting time is controlled by nature: everybody knows that nature governs the time of drying and you can’t possible hurry nature.” So they went away, figuring that they had convinced Kettering.

A few days later, Kettering was in New York and walking up Fifth Avenue. He saw a small pin tray in a store window. This tray was painted with a peculiar kind of lacquer. His curiosity aroused, Kettering found the name of the manufacturer and visited him at a small plant in Newark, New Jersey. He asked if he could purchase a gallon of the lacquer. The fellow said, “Why in the world do you want a gallon? I haven’t used that much since I first started to make it. This stuff is still in the experimental stage.” Mr. Kettering informed him that he would like to paint an automobile with it. The manufacturer said, “Mister, you can’t possibly do that. You see, this stuff dries too fast. You can’t do anything about it, you just can’t slow it down.” So, one expert said you can’t do anything about the process because it takes nature just so long to dry paint, and the other said you can’t do anything about the process because the paint dries too fast. This was the beginning of the quick-drying lacquers that are used today.

 

3. Criticism
Fear of criticism is a rugged obstacle. When you change a method, you are, in effect, criticizing the person who installed it. It is natural for someone to ask, “Why should I accept so-and-so’s idea? He is just trying to make a fool out of me. The boss will think I am a fool because I didn’t think of the idea first.”

 

Again, participation helps. If we can get people to participate, to take part in solving their problems, the barrier of criticism automatically disappears. The same individuals who resented intrusion will offer unreserved coop­eration when they are let in on the problem at the start, and hence, become members of the team.

 

4. Security
The fourth and final obstacle is fear of job security. Let’s face it. Every time there is a proposed change in an of­fice, the employees get momentary jitters. What will this change do to my job? Fear of the unknown contributes to the employees’ resistance to change.

We must realize that increased productivity per person leads to increased job security. Better service or lower prices increase the market volume and create more work. Obviously, there are more people today who are en­gaged in the automobile and allied industries than there were in the carriage-making industry when it became defunct.

Every time the customer pays more than the most scientific methods of production and distribution require, there will be less buying than there might have been. This, in turn, results in less employment and a further shrinkage of the consumer’s dollar.

A company’s, division’s, agency’s, or office’s very existence depends largely upon the quality of the work per­formed by its employees. Every employee must continually look for a better way to improve that quality. When an organization’s functions fail to improve, it may be eliminated or forced out of existence by other units, which have, as part of their objectives, the constant review and upgrading of their functions. No strike, war, or disaster can so completely destroy a person’s job as that. It is not a matter of whether we wish to improve our opera­tions but the security of every person in the organization who depends upon it.

In summing up, I think that we will all agree that all four obstacles can be overcome by letting the people who are involved in any methods or procedures alteration participate in the planning. When we conquer these ob­stacles, we will have these same people learn to laugh at complacency and poke fun at the complacent fellows who are so close-minded. Since they themselves advocate the change, we are able to alter more of their habits with little or no confusion. Criticism vanishes when a person participates, and of course, he feels more secure because he had a part in the planning and naturally will not jeopardize his own status.

Watch for Part 2 of Is There Life after Requirements? in next week’s Business Analyst Times which will be posted on Tuesday, August 3, 2010

 

Don’t forget to leave your comments below


Dr. Victor Teplitzky, an independent consultant, has more than 34 years’ experience in training and development, project management, organizational development, and business analysis.Dr. Teplitzky studied industrial engineering and quantitative analysis, holds an MS in organizational development and a Ph.D. in theology, and is a board-registered naturopathic doctor. He is a member of the Project Manage­ment Institute (PMI®), the National Society of Professional Engineers, and the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA). Dr. Teplitzky is certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP®) by PMI and as a Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP®) by IIBA. He is also a contracting officer’s technical representative (COTR), an EAM-approved advanced environmental management system (EMS) auditor for quality and environment (ISO 14000), an ANSI-RAB accredited EMS auditor (ISO 14000), and a quality systems development and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) master. For more information about Global Knowledge courses or to register for a course, visit www.globalknowledge.com or call 1-866-925-7765

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Five Steps to a Winning Business Case

5StepsToAWinningMaking a successful business case for your new project is the winning way to ensure a good beginning for your team. How often have you been asked to “work the numbers” and provide a basis for a compelling project? Often, if you are a project manager with responsibility to help your sponsor and your company make decisions about which projects are the right ones to do. The PMBOK provides the body of knowledge for “doing it the right way.” In this article, you will learn about the five steps of a methodology that you can take away and use everyday for identifying, selecting, and justifying a new project or a significant change in scope to an ongoing project.

Projects with a solid business case return value to the business, to their sponsors, and to the stakeholders and customers. Meeting scope, staying within budget, and getting done on time are the tactical elements that deliver the value. This being so, it is self-evident that successful project managers are those that effectively make the connection between project accomplishment and business value. (Goodpasture 2001)

Business Case Basics

A winning business case is really no mystery. First, it provides the background and context for the project. Historical performance is often necessary to illustrate opportunity. As is operating results from functional and process metrics are part of context. Perhaps there are lessons learned and relevant history of other projects that got you to where you are.

Second, the business case identifies the functional, technical, or market opportunity that the project is to address. From opportunity, specific solutions can be developed.

Third, the project proposal is given, laying out a description of scope, required investment, expected results and project benefits, and key performance indicators (KPIs).

Next, understanding is conveyed about how the results of the project fit into the business operationally. For this, a “concept of operations” is needed.

Last, and perhaps most important, you ask for a decision on the project proposal. In this section, it is customary to ask for approval of the assignment of managers for performance responsibility.

Step 1. Establishing Context: Put History Together

Assembling history and setting the context for a new project may not be where project managers expect to first come into the picture. However, often times it is necessary to bring forward completed, cancelled, or deferred projects for analysis, or to analyse the operating metrics of ongoing functions and processes. Activities in this step are identifying the similarities, highlighting the differences, and making certain irrelevant aspects of past endeavors do not color the current situation.

Here’s a helpful hint: start with the WBS of all prior engagements. The WBS contains all the scope and should link directly to the financial records and chart of accounts. Make adjustments for change orders or other scope differences. Examine the project charter; make adjustments for tools, facilities, constraints, assumptions, and policies that influence the project, but may no longer be operative. Look also at the OBS (organizational breakdown structure) and the RAM (resource assignment matrix) that maps organization to scope.

Step 2. Responding to Opportunity

We begin with this idea: Opportunity is “unmet need.” Investing in projects to satisfy identified need leads to reward. Reward enriches all who participate.

Goal Setting and Strategy Development

To effectively and wisely choose among opportunities requires goal setting and strategy development. We make these definitions: Goals are ends to be achieved, a state of the business in a future time. Objectives do not differ materially from goals, though some prefer to think of objectives in more of a tactical time-frame and goals in more of a strategic framework.

Opportunity is most often found within the goal sets of the “balanced scorecard” [Kaplan and Norton, Chapter 1]. Typically, there are four such sets: Customer and Market, Operational Efficiencies and Improvement, Organizational Development and Learning, and Employees.

The value of opportunity is transferred into goal achievement. Not all of the opportunity may be available to the business. Thus, more practically, we speak of the “addressable” opportunity as being that part that can find its way into the business. To make good on the addressable opportunity, strategy is required.

Strategy is actionable, often requiring projects for execution. Projects are identified by flow-down from opportunity analysis; projects are an instrument of strategy.

Business Case Preparation

Action plans, the essence of strategy, are a natural for project managers. The strategy is a high level WBS for the overall business case, identifying those actions that are in scope, and perhaps identifying strategy elements considered but deferred or not accepted.

Step 3. Proposing the Project and Laying out the Investment and Benefits

Opportunity is in the future. There are no facts in the future, only estimates. As such, your project proposal must identify four elements:

  1. Scope of accomplishment in terms with which sponsors and approving authorities will identify;
  2. Major milestones that are meaningful to the business;
  3. An assessment of risk factors that affect both investment and benefits estimates; and finally,
  4. A specific proposal of risk-adjusted investment dollars, benefit dollars (benefits recover investment), and KPs.

Many projects have only intangible KPIs and indefinite benefits. Sometimes it is possible to “dollarise” these benefits using the “before and after” methodology: what does it cost to run the business before hand, and what will it cost to run it after? Even though any specific cost element may not be directly linked to the project, the business as a whole will be different.

Identifying and Assessing Risk

The traditional investment equation is: “total return is provided by principal at risk plus gain.” Project methodology transforms this equation into the project equation: “project value is delivered from resources committed and risks taken.” The project equation is the project’s manager’s math and the balance sheet for the project. [Goodpasture, 2001, Chapter 3]

One means of risk assessment is through statistical analysis of the major schedule elements. For purposes of the business case, only major project outcomes need be scheduled. The best estimator of the schedule outcome is the expected value of the overall duration, defined simply as the sum of possible outcomes, each weighted by their probability.

Financial estimates should also be adjusted for risk. After all, financial performance is one key performance indicator (KPI) for all new projects. Two financial measures that account for risk are Net Present Value (NPV) and Economic Value Add (EVA).

Financial Measures with Risk Assessments

NPV measures cash on a risk-adjusted basis. Cash is consumed by projects, but subsequently is generated by project deliverables. EVA measures profitability. Although it has been said “profit is an opinion, but cash is a fact” [Pike, 1999], reflecting the influence of accounting practices on calculating profit, project managers should know that NPV and EVA are equivalent when profit is restated in its cash components.

Net Present Value

How can projects managers affect the NPV or its equivalent, the EVA? Simply put, the main effects under project management control are timelines for cash flows, that is, the schedule for the development of project deliverables and subsequent operations, and assessments of the risks associated with cash flows. After project completion, the responsibility for cash flows is transferred to a benefits manager through the KPI’s. Project management participation in risk-adjusted financials has many parallels with risk-adjusted scheduling of critical path using such techniques as Monte Carlo, PERT, or critical chain scheduling.

Economic Value Add

EVA is a financial measure of how project performance, especially after the deliverables become operational, affects earnings. [Higgins, 1998 Chapter 8]. Projects with positive EVA earn back more than their cost of capital funding; that is, they return to the business sufficient earnings from reduced costs or increased revenues and margins to more than cover the cost of the capital required to fund the projects.

The bottom line on financial analysis: NPV (Cash flow) = present value EVA (After-tax cash-equivalent earnings).

Estimating Cash Flow

Estimating the cash flow for the business case is a project manager’s task. Estimating cash flows is tantamount to estimating the resource requirements for the project, and then estimating the benefits that will accrue from a successful project. The PMBOK identifies several estimating techniques that can be applied. The key is not only to estimate the resources for the project, but also the benefit stream from operations.

Step 4. Outlining the Concept of Operations

A concept of operations need not be rocket science. The idea is this: Once the project ends, and by definition, as given in the PMBOK, all projects end, we must address the question, “how will the project deliverables be made operational in the business?”

Deliverables in the Concept of Operations

If project deliverables are to be inserted into, or change, or bring into being new processes, then there are process actors, inputs, methods, and outputs to consider. If there are new products, the fit to marketing and sales must be considered, as well as support after sale. And if there are new plant, systems, and equipment deliverables then the concept of operations will address the on-going operations that would be touched by these new assets, new or changed workforce, their training and relocation, and retirement of legacy assets.

To convey the concept of operations (ConOPs) in the business case, identify effected organizations, jobs, roles within jobs, tasks within roles, skills, tools and facilities necessary to do the tasks, operating budgets, and other relevant components. By narrative or diagram, explain the operating concept.

For purposes of the business case, it is most useful to reduce even complex processes to a handful of boxes, and back-up this abstraction with whatever detail is needed to satisfy participating managers that their needs are covered.

Step 5. Asking for a Decision and Assigning Responsibility

Hopefully, business cases in your organization are subject to a rational decision policy. Rational means: “outcome is a predictable consequence of information applied to methodology.” With a rational decision policy, the business case should make a direct appeal for a decision to approve the project.

On the presumption of a favorable decision, the managers responsible for executing the decision should be identified. It’s easy for the project sponsor to identify and assign responsibility for the investment: it’s the project manager. The project manager controls the consumption of resources invested, scope accomplished, and the timeliness of it all.

Assigning responsibility for benefits and KPIs is more problematic. We use these definitions: Benefits are the mechanisms for recovering project investment. KPI’s are different yet: they are the “balanced scorecard” of the project. KPIs measure business success as a consequence of project success, and are many times intangible.

The manager(s) for benefits and KPIs becomes loosely defined as the “benefit managers.” They must make commitments in the business case to make good on the ConOPs and the changes envisioned. Benefit managers must accept this responsibility in a transfer from the project manager at the conclusion of the project. A slip-up here will materially affect the investment recovery.

Summary

A good business case lays out the response to opportunity. Such a response is made contextually relevant with history setting the background. From opportunity, all else flows. Risk adjusted financial measures, the project ConOPs, and the strategy response to goals rounds out the completed business case. In short, good business cases define good projects. Good projects return value, provide benefits, and have measurable KPIs.

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John C. Goodpasture, PMP and Managing Principal at Square Peg Consulting, is a program manager, coach, author, and project consultant specializing in technology projects, strategic planning, project office operations. He is the author of several books, articles, and web blogs in the field of project management. He blogs at johngoodpasture.com, and his work products are found in the library at www. sqpegconsulting.com, and at www.slideshare.net/jgoodpas. His full profile is at www.linkedin.com/in/johngoodpasture. Mr. Goodpasture’s most recent book is “Project Management the Agile Way: making it work in the enterprise”, published in January, 2010.

References
Goodpasture, John C., “Managing Projects for Value,” Management Concepts, Vienna, Virginia, 2001, cover piece Ibid, pg 40.
Pike, Tom, “Rethink, Retool, Results,” Simon and Schuster Custom Publishing, Needham Heights, MA, 1999, pg 177.
Higgins, Robert C., “Analysis for Financial Management,” Irwin/McGraw Hill, Boston, MA, 1998.
Kaplan, Robert S. and Norton, David P., “The Balanced Scorecard,” HBS Press, Boston, MA, 1996.

John Goodpasture shares his views on contemporary topics in project management, methodologies, and the value propositions of programmes and projects on his blog A Project Management Opinion.

© John Goodpasture. All rights reserved. Used with permission

The Emotionally Powerful Business Analyst Team Leader

I must say from the outset that when the words “leadership” and “emotions” are used in the same sentence, I cringe.

This reaction was likely formed early in my career when, as a young engineering technologist, all of my projects were horrendous failures, not because of their lack of technical merit, but rather because of the irrationality, foolhardiness, idiocy (I could go on but I’m sure you get the idea) of equipment operators. Apparently an insidious, deep-seated mental weakness rendered them incapable of recognizing the sheer brilliance and elegance of my ideas. The Director of Engineering apparently shared this weakness since he arranged a most unwelcome transfer to Personnel Records six months into my job. That foolish move cost him a brilliant young technologist who graduated near the top of his class. It nearly cost me my career.

Leaders today rarely fail because they back the wrong product or make a misstep in an acquisition. They fail because they are insensitive, critical, selfish, arrogant and negative. They fail because they are emotionally weak, like that young technologist. They fail because they are unable or unwilling to harness the power of their own emotions and those of others.

The single most powerful force in the domain of leadership is emotion; the emotions of the leader and his or her constituents.

Some of us are born with natural leadership charisma, but I have never met a natural born, emotionally powerful leader. In fact, just the opposite is true. By nature, we are superficial, self-absorbed creatures. To become an emotionally powerful leader takes a real concerted effort…but it can be done. When one simply decides to study and master one’s emotions, connect with and positively influence others, it’s like turning on a light switch. The change is immediate. Overnight your leadership power will increase tenfold. It is remarkably straightforward and doable. Following are four point to bear in mind.

  1. Get up Close and Real Personal with the Real You
    Recognize and embrace your emotions. These are not simply outcroppings of your personality. Emotions are you. Think of spending your life swimming in a pool of your emotions. They are everywhere, and you are always under the influence of at least one of them. While you may think you know yourself well, most of us really don’t. Knowing your MBTI personality type is not enough. Get up on your own balcony. What really makes you tick? What makes you happy, sad, glad and mad? Watch yourself interact with others. Become aware of your emotions as they occur. Note the events that trigger significant emotional reactions.
  2. Become the Master of Your Own Emotional Ship
    Stop being ruled by old patterns of feeling-thinking-acting that no longer serve you well. Get into the habit of pausing and reflecting. Ask yourself, “What’s really happening here? Regardless of how I feel, what’s the next best step for me, as a leader, to take?”
  3. It Really is Not All About You
    Great leaders seek to create selfless, personal connections. This can only happen when people feel good, not about you, but about themselves in your presence. It really is not all about you. Practice seeing the world through the eyes of others. Practice being totally present with others, even for a short time. Great leaders invest considerable time and energy in understanding others and seeking ways to serve them. Others are not simply pawns in their game but real people with unique needs, fears, and aspirations.
  4. Stop Sucking the Light out of the Room
    Are you a pervasive, positive influence on the people in your organization? When you walk into a room, does it become brighter or do you suck out all the light? Moods make all the difference. And the leader’s mood is especially infectious. Great leaders have a contagious optimism about their organization’s future and constantly convey a strong sense of confidence in themselves and others.

If someone has recommended this article to you, you might want to take notice. There may be some good advice for you personally in the above points. The good news is this: Someone cares about you and your effectiveness as a leader. They believe in you and see the potential of your becoming a much more powerful leader. You can. And it will make all the difference.

Don’t forget to leave your comments below


Gregg Thompson is the President of Bluepoint Leadership Development and can be reached at [email protected]. He would be thrilled to discuss any and all aspects of leadership with you. Please feel free to contact him.

Six Steps to a Strategic Situation Analysis with SWOT

Creating a Company Strategy: The Challenge

Jack, a new senior vice president, had been tasked with preparing a situation analysis report that senior management would use to help form company strategy. Since Jack had never contributed to company strategy before, he reviewed his predecessor’s analysis. He discovered that the previous year’s report did not capture the information that senior management would need, nor did it include a way to present that information in a manner that management could use to create a clear strategy. Additionally, the analysis did not reflect his team’s capabilities or ideas.

It became apparent to Jack that his predecessor hadn’t used the situation analysis report as an opportunity to create a collaborative exercise that involved all the team members. This explained something else he had observed when he had taken over: his team didn’t know anything about the previous situation analysis and had no idea how it had contributed to the company’s strategy. Not surprisingly, his team felt disconnected from the company’s current strategy and goals.

Assessing the Situation

Jack realized the necessity of acquiring tools to elicit and articulate his team’s contributions and also present them effectively to management, otherwise it was unlikely that his input would be incorporated into the company’s strategic plans. Without that input, Jack’s team would lack the focus, commitment and buy-in essential to the success of any strategic overhaul. And, if the process didn’t motivate and energize his subordinates, involvement in preparing the report would be viewed as one more task imposed on them that would negatively impact their day-to-day responsibilities.

The Solution: The Six-Step SWOT Analysis

The team adopted the SWOT Analysis framework as part of a series of collaborative work sessions that would effectively prepare their current situation analysis report. SWOT analysis is a strategic planning method used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats involved in a project or business venture, indicating where opportunities and risk should be pursued, where certain threats or risks should be avoided, and if resources are allocated properly. With my help, Jack implemented the following six-step process:

Step 1. Organize Teams of Four to Six Individuals

Once the teams are divided, designate a facilitation team that will be responsible for orchestrating the multiple meetings of the other teams, including coordinating the logistics (meeting rooms, pens, flip charts, etc.) for the meetings.

Step 2. Provide Pre-work to Prepare the Participants

Create detailed event information and send the package to meeting participants in advance. Include listings of all the meetings, agendas for each of those meetings, and the purpose and objectives of the process. Recommend document sources that staff can use to augment their individual thoughts on internal and external factors influencing the business (e.g., analyst observations on industry environment, reports on macroeconomic conditions, market segmentation data, internal performance metrics). Ask participants to group key factors under categories that you provide (e.g., resources, competencies, managerial deficiencies, inadequately skilled resources). This prompts the participants to identify broader categories that specific factors fall into.

Step 3. Conduct Round-robin Meetings to Collect Input on Internal Factors

A facilitator for each team will ask each participant to provide a list of internal factors. Write the internal factors on individual sticky notes or 3×5 cards and place them so they are displayed clearly. Group the factors that enhance the company’s situation under Strengths and those that weaken the situation and competitive position under Weaknesses. Facilitate a discussion that generates more factors, deepens understandings of the factors and uncovers relationships between them. Record the results of these discussions on the related notes or cards.

Step 4. Conduct Round-robin Meetings to Collect Ideas on External Factors

Have the teams repeat the round-robin exercise looking at external factors. Group these under the headings of Threats and Opportunities. Threats are those factors that are possibly detrimental to the organization’s competitive position in the marketplace; opportunities are factors that enhance the company’s position. Make it clear that some factors can appear on more than one list. For example, an opportunity can also be interpreted as a threat (if, for example, the opportunity is seized by a competitor).

Step 5. Vote on Top Strengths, Weaknesses, Threats and Opportunities

Collate the lists from the individual teams and put them in a central location where all of the teams can review them. Schedule a time for participants to vote on the top three strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Step 6. Prioritize Strategic Alternatives

Have the teams brainstorm, using the “top three” lists created in the previous steps. For each opportunity, have participants identify the company’s relevant strengths and weaknesses. Repeat the process for each threat, identifying the strengths that the company can use to defend itself from the threats and the weaknesses that leave the company exposed. When the company has corresponding strengths and few weaknesses, this opportunity should be pursued vigorously. On the other hand, the company should consider exiting those areas where it has many threats and many weaknesses (especially if the threats target the company’s weaknesses). Where it makes sense for the company to stay in threatened areas, the teams should recommend how existing strengths can be redeployed or acquired. Where there are opportunities worth pursuing, but the company lacks strengths, recommendations can be prepared that include partnering with other organizations or acquiring the necessary skills or resources through other means.

Final Assessment

Jack personally orchestrated the process, setting up a series of half-day work sessions that involved his direct reports and several members of the functional areas reporting to him. He had the groups use SWOT analysis as a key job aid in their work sessions, supported by facilitators who understood the process. Jack also brought in outside facilitators to elicit objective opinions and discussions.

The teams, which in previous years dreaded the paperwork demanded in creating a situation analysis, were now energized by the interactive work sessions. Furthermore, they left the meetings feeling their ideas would be used in the strategic plan that the corporation adopted and that any resulting strategy was going to be their strategy. They weren’t disappointed, either. Because the resulting report summarized key factors and tied them directly to strategic alternatives, the document had a significant impact on the development of the company’s strategic plan.

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Ramana Metlapalli is author of Learning Tree Course 252, “Strategic Planning for Organizational Success”. Ramana specializes in advising high-technology companies on their strategic initiatives. Learning Tree International is a world leader in hands-on training for Management and Technology Professionals. Since 1974, over two million course participants from over 65,000 organizations around the world have enhanced their skills through intensive hands-on exercises under the guidance of expert instructors with real-world experience. Visit us at www.learningtree.ca.