Our “Art of War – Strategic Battle Plans for Successful SharePoint ROI” seminars last Thursday in Sydney and Friday in Melbourne struck a common chord in all the attendees. Companies of all shapes and sizes seem to be faced with very similar problems – having decided to implement SharePoint as a portal/intranet/collaboration space/process orchestrator, how do we make it a truly meaningful addition to the company landscape? How can we discover what the business really needs from a platform such as this? How can we get a common and shared understanding of the key needs and priorities for all stakeholders? When we move beyond the core SharePoint footprint how do we address this mysterious section they call “composites”?
The generous feedback we received from people on the day was unambiguous – most people need help planning their project and also need help achieving real business benefits.
Our keynote speaker on the day was the entertaining and down to earth Mr Paul Culmsee – the author of “The Heretics Guide to Best Practices: The Reality of Managing Complex Problems in Organisations” and also the excellent and extremely popular CleverWorkarounds blog. As well as introducing us all to Robot Barbie (an abomination of the toy world) Paul really nailed a few eye-openers for the audience.
1) There is a big difference between complicated and complex problems, and the tools and skills needed to address the first do not serve you well when applied to the second. Complicated problems have a very clear goal and measurable outcome. Think upgrading your email server. You know it has been successful because you can send and receive emails. But complex problems are those that do not have an easily defined outcome. Think ‘improved customer service’. What does that mean to each of the stakeholder groups and how do you measure success? That’s complex.
2) Without developing a common understanding of the problem with all the stakeholders it is almost impossible to achieve a shared commitment. And it is commitment that gets things done. Addressing the noisiest stakeholder may not satisfy the biggest one and addressing the collaborative issues certaintly won’t solve the process issues. Everyone needs to be in agreement on what the goal is, how it will be measured and the steps to achieve it.
3) Platitudes are your enemy – what do things like ‘better collaboration’ or ‘quality management’ or ‘an enterprise portal’ or ‘best practice’ actually mean? Platitudes have a terrible habit of turning up as project goals because no-one has defined exactly what the difference will be between the before and after. Platitudes need to be unpacked to uncover what is it that we actually want from this project, not just ‘better something’. ‘A SharePoint project’ is probably the worst platitude of them all.
4) And the follow-on from that point, if it cannot be measured then why are you doing it?
Paul shared a couple of really useful and simple tools with everyone to help unpack platitudes and identify the all-important ‘why’ underpinning the ‘what’ and ‘how’. The Kapitola Pathway so easily helps build an explicit map of what is required, why it is important and how it is going to be achieved. I think everyone agreed that it was a neat tool that could be used immediately to tackle a problem with nothing but a sheet of paper, a pencil and an eraser.
The excellent news announced during the Melbourne seminar was that Paul’s book “The Heretic’s Guide to Best Practice” was awarded a Bronze in the category of Continuous Improvement in the 2012 Axiom Books Award. Congratulations to Paul.
Some of the great feedback from the seminars included:
“I found the differentiation between complicated and complex problems very valuable” – Adrian F.
“I really enjoyed the out-of-the-box thinking perspective” – Pritika S.
“The Kapitola Pathway is a great tool to demonstrate strategic fit of projects” – Richard C.
“Very relevant speakers with very good advice” – Kevin P.
“Not one screen shot – it’s all about the business objectives, which shouldn’t be driven by technology” – Peter G.
Paul Culmsee offers specific issue mapping classes. If you’d like more details, click here.
If you want to read more stories about how Professional Advantage has helped organisations implemented SharePoint, click here.
Should you have any queries, ideas on how Professional Advantage can help you, contact us on 1800 126 499.