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Part 2 on Leadership: Developing a Strategic Transformation Team

Different from the crowdBreaking the Linear Approach by Leading Strategic Transformation

In my last post, Leadership: The Change Process In Claims Requires A Different Approach, I put forth the position that changing a claims organization needs a new brand of leadership skill that does not usually exist in the traditional claims organization. Continuing with this theme, I will address what it means to break from existing management process to achieve effective strategic results.

Breaking from the linear approach to management is the key to leading Strategic Transformation. A standard organization will have a head of claims and then a variety of department heads to manage each line of business. Depending on the company there may be additional senior managers to handle various operational aspects of the group, which may include support staff, call center, technology and data analytics. Under this method, projects get initiated and managed within the same linear organizational framework. The result of this approach is a development process built in a silo that limits input and understanding of possible interdependencies that may exist outside the framework.

A Strategic Transformation Team, however, is formed with a center to lead change over multiple projects. Each project team consists of people from a variety of departments and levels. The teams are charged with creating objectives, setting priorities, securing buy-in, and executing on the vision. The teams are not formed within a linear framework and can draw upon different expertise to get the project completed. The Strategic Team in the center can drive all projects, manage interdependencies, and facilitate moving projects forward without distraction from the day-to-day management. Their focus is on the bigger picture and not limited within an individual project silo.

The Best Transformation Happens When Dedicated Transformation Teams Are Formed

To make effective change rapidly, it’s best to create a dedicated team to deal with change as their sole mission. This team will have the principal objective of producing outcomes and will be dedicated to adopting and improving the organization on an ongoing basis and not as part of some once every five year strategic plan. The independent team will also have multiple benefits which would include:

  • A central pressing vision to produce valuable effective change
  • Being focused on the big, as well as little pictures
  • Rapid deployment capability to get things moved to implementation
  • The ability to challenge the status quo to break conventional methods of project deployment
  • Expanded institutional knowledge about multi-disciplinary impacts to improve team efficiency on future projects

While building such a team internally is possible, there has to be an initial effort on getting commitment and focus from the staff to work in a new framework that is different from their existing work environment. For this reason, it is often best to bring in a third party to help facilitate the process.

How a Strategic Transformation Team Works

Getting from point A to point B requires a methodical approach to projects. The Strategic Transformation team will typically establish a Project Management Office (“PMO”) to help to successfully execute those projects identified “as needed to improve the operation.” The areas of responsibility under a PMO include:

  • Project identification and defining project purpose and requirements
  • Organization and management of work resources to execute projects and requirements
  • Assuring timely and useable deliverables
  • Coordinating multiple projects and dependencies
  • Reporting to key stakeholders and organizational communication

With a PMO established, projects can be outlined and staged appropriately to both manage costs and deal with interconnecting parts. Additionally a PMO can facilitate the gradual introduction of new processes and technologies which might otherwise disrupt the existing environment. This will allow an organization to phase in procedural changes in a manner to help gain cultural “acceptance” and “buy in” from employees.

The main team will go through a series of steps following established project management techniques to define, plan and execute on multiple strategic concerns simultaneously. The overall focus will be developed; and for each project, a similar multistep approach will be used and address the following.

  • Business champion/leadership assignment
  • Prioritization of project within scope of organizational needs, other projects and budget
  • Strong objectives established
  • Well defined project charters drafted and approved
  • Interdependencies/relationships explored and managed
  • Develop a risk analysis
  • Rapid and timely implementation
  • Buy-in and adaptation to change addressed with staff and stakeholders
  • Conclusion and re-explore

Achieving strategic transformation is possible with the right teams in place. Regardless, sometimes those efforts still hit road blocks.  In my next post I will discuss how assistance from thrid parties with transformation experience can help to expedite the process or, at the very least, provide a second set of eyes to oversee the work being done.

 How successful has your transformation team been?



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