Resistance to change — This is, needless to say, one of the chief obstacles that you and your core team will encounter when promoting almost any strategic initiative. We’re pretty sure you’ve heard these before: “Show me this isn’t a boondoggle.” Or, “We live in the moment. We are very operations-oriented.” Or, “We are tactical, action-oriented people, and this initiative too strategic.” Explaining tangible near-term benefits, realizing them and then promoting them is of course the best answer to these natural born skeptics.
Managing expectations — Once you get some level of enthusiasm, managing expectations is critical. For instance, many stakeholders may cross the barrier from resistance to enthusiasm, but fail to pull their share of the load. They become the ultimate, spoiled consumers. And by the way, among the “expectations” to be managed by the core team, their’s are likely to be at the top.
Lack of follow through — Too often there is a “hot topic of the month.” The media and many industry analysts make a good living promoting what’s in fashion; often maxing out longer-term directions on the maturity curve prematurely. (In case you’re wondering, strategic objectives like CMDB systems, service catalogs linked through modeling to active operational automation, and effective end-to-end service management aren’t going to “mature” and go on “maintenance” in the foreseeable future.) You should expect these initiatives to evolve and grow in value for many years to come.
Lack of integration and Lack of automation — I’m going to wrap up with two technology-centric failure points. Not only are more effective levels of management integration and automation benefits from many strategic initiatives, most strategic initiatives also depend on integration and automation to succeed in their own rights. Strategic initiatives that rely too much on manual actions quickly become elephants weighing down rather than enabling progress. In fact you can sometimes gauge your readiness to move on to the next phases by assessing how prepared your organization is to “integrate” and “automate” in support of better ways of working to support the initiative at hand.
Dennis Drogseth is vice president of Boulder, Colo.-based