Monday, July 25, 2011

Managing Major Corporate Initiatives
A five-point plan to keep steering committees on track.
Authors: Christoph Loch (INSEAD), Magnus Mähring (Stockholm School of Economics), and Svenja Sommer (HEC Paris)

Very, very important stuff.

 "Major initiatives are often a cause of significant friction between the senior executives who oversee a project and the managers who are charged with implementation.

Often drawn from around the firm to sit on a supervisory steering committee, the senior executives are on the hook for a project’s success. Typically, though, steering committee members lack the time, the proximity, and the expertise to understand all the issues and details involved in a project — and many struggle to provide the right level of guidance and supervision….….This paper provides a five-point framework for giving big, complex projects the senior leadership they require — not in terms of operational management, but rather in terms of strategic direction. 

1.        Steering committee composition and self-management. Steering committees should include important stakeholders, create their own governance systems, and work as a team2.       Goal agreement. Team members should clarify and agree on the project’s objectives, producing workable compromises3.       Relationship with the project team. Committee members should decide how to evaluate and motivate those charged with executing the project4.       Supervision and control. This area involves keeping the project team on track within the context of the company’s goals. Steering committees should question assumptions throughout the project  and insist on translating technical jargon into business language whenever possible 5.        Managing surprises and changes. The last point relates to the need to modify the project’s direction when objectives or opportunities shift — and they always will, at least to some extent…. Rather than focus on final results,  steering committees should make use of “intermediate insight milestones” to keep plans flexible and moving forward. " 

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