Making frameworks work
It's all well and good being an expert on business frameworks, but this will only get you so far. In this blog I want to talk about how to choose the right framework and ensure it is successful.
The starting point is to obtain a thorough understanding of the business problem. This means being steeped in the facts and looking at the problem objectively. Imagine that you were a visitor from Mars with no knowledge of a business. How would the Martian approach the problem? When did it start? What was the trigger that caused it? How has it changed over time? What impact is it having on the business? What two to three things could be done to alleviate or solve the problem? A dispassionate assessment is needed to work out the key issues and enable you to come up with the appropriate framework.
The person from Mars would be hopeless at this next task. We now need the very best communication skills to convince our colleagues that we understand the problem and have a solution. Business problems are seldom solved by one person. Teams need to provide the solution. This means that our colleagues must be on board with the chosen solution. They need to be convinced by the analytical thinking and that the framework will work. There will be a range of people who need to be brought on board ranging from those at the very top of the organisation through to the many others who will be involved in the action. The communications may need tweaking for the different audiences.
Once the framework is agreed and everyone recognises the logic, it is time for implementation. This is often where frameworks fail. What looks right in theory may not work out exactly as planned. Figuring out what is working and what is not demands measurements and controls. This doesn't mean that every minor deviation from the plan merits a change, but it does mean that the overall trajectory has to be in the right direction. Patience and tolerance are required so that people don't panic if there are fluctuations either side of the curve. And, if a course correction is required, people must understand the reason why and be prepared to execute the changes.
Getting people to accept the plan and work hard to execute it requires the highest level of interpersonal and consultative skills. Here we draw upon behavioural scientists and their understanding of how to motivate people. Sometimes egos get in the way of the execution. If people believe that the plan is being forced upon them, there will be less incentive to make it work than if they believe the plan is their own invention. Discussions with colleagues provide an opportunity to lead them down a direction of thought which is then applauded as if it were their own invention. Ownership of an idea can be critical to making sure that the implementation happens.
During the implementation people must feel that they are able to report deviances without being blamed for them. And, when there are successes, appropriate praise fuels the motivation that ensures still further success.
Here’s the summary:
1 Collect and analyse facts to arrive at an appropriate framework.
2 Use written and oral communication skills to convince people that the framework is the solution to the problem.
3 Have measurements in place to ensure the framework stays on course and be prepared to make course corrections when necessary.
4 Motivate people working on the framework by letting them have the kudos that comes from success.