As we have been reviewing the Journey business and the benefits we are able to offer our clients, it has become clear that there is one thing which is often valued above all else – and that is our objectivity.
Of course, without the experience and insight we can bring to bear this objectivity might not be of the greatest value but having input from an experienced external party that hasn’t a specific agenda is clearly of great help to many business leaders. Having realised how beneficial this is, following feedback from clients, we have developed a specific service that offers clients an early and objective input to their plans for change whilst they are in the process of being developed, (see What We Do for more details).
An Independent Sounding Board
Anyone who has worked at a senior level in business will know that it is hard to find the time and space to think about key business challenges. And, even when they are able to find time, leaders often find it difficult to think about such challenges objectively, particularly when they are under pressure to find solutions quickly. There is often a desire to approach things in a way that has been adopted previously, or conversely to try something new because previous attempts haven’t worked, or to adopt an approach favoured by colleagues.
It is at times like these that talking to an independent party about the challenge and looking at it from a different perspective can be invaluable. This can help the business leader to work through the challenge, to understand why it is a challenge in the first place, to clarify what they want to achieve, to work out how they would prefer to go about it and to develop this preferred approach.
In this situation, the independent sounding board isn’t often offering a specific solution but rather a clear way of framing the problem and a range of possibilities for how it could be addressed. This is the key point from our perspective and the more we have come to realise this and not tried to push a specific solution, the more effective we have been!
For instance, a CEO of a large service organisation once asked us to look at setting up a ‘fast-track’ programme for over 100 Senior Managers in the organisation because it was felt that they weren’t performing at the level expected. As we talked about it and looked into the underlying issues, it transpired that there was a breakdown of trust and communication between the Directors and Senior Managers that meant expectations weren’t being met for either party. By focusing on the root causes of the issue, (and spending only 15% of the budget that had been allocated for the ‘fast-track’ programme!) management communication and engagement – and subsequently performance – improved significantly.
The Earlier the Better
The critical issue from our perspective is timing… the earlier we are able to talk to clients about their change challenges the better, as this provides us with more opportunity to add value to the process.
However, we also appreciate that this is difficult for clients. We often find that leaders, quite naturally, want to get a clear idea about what external support they need before they ask for it. This usually leads to the definition of a quite tight brief which a number of external providers are invited to respond to. And yet, in the majority of such cases, we find that the brief we’ve been invited to respond to isn’t where we would recommend starting the change process from. This presents a tricky situation for both the client and the provider, as the former is often inclined to stick to the brief and the latter is often inclined to respond to the brief as it is rather than to recommend what they think is best…
It is for this reason that we have developed a new service that provides an independent and objective input to the planning stage of a change process before it is finalised. We have delivered such inputs on a number of occasions and in our experience this can save the client a lot of time, effort and money in the long-term – as well as helping to ensure that the desired change is achieved more effectively.
The starting point for this process is a quick phone conversation, (at no cost and with no commitment) so please contact us if you would like to find out more.