Aligning your Strategy and Staff with Federated Teams
One of the greatest challenges ICS has seen with Strategy teams is they can have a tendency to dream bigger than the organization can handle. Oftentimes, in an attempt to innovate, Strategy teams can outline complex projects/deliverables without consideration of the larger business ecosystem’s ability to execute and/or realize the value of these visions. The reality is that some organizations lack the business maturity or sophistication to handle complex programs. We hate to admit that, but as strategists we have to be aware and honest of our business realities. That’s not to say, don’t push the envelope, just realize there is an envelope and how far you can push it.
So, before you come up with the next grand plan for newer, sexier, more intricate technologies and business solutions, ICS recommends you first take a step back and ensure your strategy is aligned with the people (as well as process and technology) within your organization and vice-versa. The following offers one solution to just the people alignment aspect of your strategy.
ICS recently worked with an IT Enterprise Team at an international media corporation that was asked to develop a highly-sophisticated and technically complex frameworks and tools suite. The Team did exactly that, they invested months of time and money to deliver elaborate and highly-optimized technology tools. However, when all was said-and-done, the tools just sat “on the shelf” because the technology teams to which the IT Enterprise Team delivered the suite were incapable of understanding them, let alone using them. Essentially, the Team handed calculus to people who hadn’t yet studied algebra. The expression the client used was, “I put knives in the hands of children; all they can do is hurt themselves.”
The conventional approach to a situation like this is to plan for a training period at the end of the strategic delivery. While this frequently works, it’s a highly ineffective solution. What ICS recommended for the above client was a radically different approach: We recommended that the Enterprise Team “Federate” IT talent from the receiving teams and to co-build the next wave of strategic deliverables with these constituents.
And, that’s exactly what they did; they created “internships” for the IT staff and placed them into the Enterprise Team. Together, the federated team built the next set of deliverables, with tremendous results. Not only did the solutions gain traction and get implemented, significant time was shaved off the process. Rather than the traditional serialization of product development, training, and then implementation, development and training were combined. The “Interns” were able to immediately implement the strategic solutions as well as train their core teams on those solutions.
ICS has worked with several clients to create similar federated teams, not just across IT but also integrating the “business” into IT and vice versa. Overall, we have seen tremendous success with this alignment tactic.
So, before you run off to create your next strategic masterpiece, think about the organization’s ability to implement and consider forming a federated team structure to optimize the process. It will save you time, money, and most of all; return far greater success during implementation.