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Why your old fashioned business case will not engage your organization

Why your old fashioned business case will not engage your organization

Your organization is taking on a transformational initiative and your employees are detached and unmotivated. You have built a compelling business case that outlines the project team, associated costs, and the realization timeline. Your summarized business case most likely sounds a lot like, "In five years' time, the project will cut operating expenses by $XX and increase revenue by X%." The phrases "more efficient," "a global platform," and "a better way to serve our customers" have been tossed around, but every department has its own agenda and no one agrees on the ultimate goal. Although your business case is necessary, engaging the correct decision makers and ensuring employees at all impacted levels are prepared requires a few additional steps.

Problem: Your employees don't understand your business case.

Solution: Define an inspiring vision statement.

A business case does not speak to all levels of your organization. Percent savings speaks to the executives, but not necessarily your employees, who are the true change makers. In order to engage your employees, define an inspiring vision statement. An initiative's vision statement should be a short blurb describing how the organization will look, act, and function as a result of the change. Your vision statement should be compelling, easy to repeat, and give a sense of purpose that is much more precise than simply "increasing efficiencies." The initiative’s vision should align corporate strategy with project goals and objectives in a way that everyone can easily understand.

Problem: You don't define the path to success.

Solution: Define goals and objectives.

Your business plan says nothing about how you will navigate your organization to success. Transforming from today's environment to the desired future state is not going to happen overnight. Set forth project goals (the desired outcome of the initiative) and objectives (what action must be taken to meet a goal) to increase transparency and ensure your organization will make changes in lock step. One mistake that most organizations make is creating too many goals. Stay focused on a handful of key changes as your organization is already undergoing a major shift. Additionally, be specific with your goals. Every organization wants to increase efficiencies, but what steps will your organization take to actually do it?

Problem: You only measure success once.

Solution: Define success measures and periodic KPI targets.

While the traditional business case outlines success at the end of the project, set a governance plan for periodically measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) and targets throughout your organization's change. This will provide attainable goals that all departments can drive towards, leaving little room for interpretation. Put in place “health checks” related to your organization's change so you can easily see the areas that are thriving and those that need additional support. It is critical that the entire organization can answer the question, "We will know this initiative is successful when… is accomplished." KPIs establish performance standards, motivate employees, and connect the customer to performance metrics. They are not unattainable numbers, statistics, or tools for blame.  Without alignment on KPIs, you may encounter competing priorities and unrealistic expectations, which can cause employees to become discouraged when they do not see immediate success and revert back to previous processes or the "old way of doing things."

A business case is necessary to engage an organization's executives, but look to vision and value methodology to engage and align an entire organization. Creating a project’s vision and value is not particularly difficult, but requires effort to come to an agreement. Gain buy-in from middle management and then hold them accountable to engage their direct-reports, the true change makers. The good news is that if you have completed your business case, you are well on your way.

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