Anna-Marie McGraw joined the WBMS Change and Transformation practice in 2013. She specialises in helping clients across a variety of sectors – including Financial Services, Transport and Telco – to hire cultural and technology change programme experts. She typically supports her clients imbed cultural change and technology innovation at senior and mid – management levels.
In this short Q&A we ask Anna-Marie for her top tips for successful change and transformation in 2018.
As an expert in change and transformation, your job is to help companies hire interims to make it happen. What’s the magic ingredient to initiating change?
There’s nothing particularly magical about being able to get things done. I believe that with the right motivation, adaptable methodology and experience, anyone can become a ‘make it happen’ person. That said, there are some common blockers and historical issues which can hold back transformation. In these instances, it’s important to show you can break the cycle. Demonstrate that you can deliver even if you are not working with a ‘dream team’ or have to make do with limited resources. There have been a number of instances where clients need WBMS to bring in a Senior Interim who can help their business change after it has failed to transform 3 or 4 times previously. In these instances it is crucial that this Interim Change Agent mark themselves out as different from those who have failed before. Buy-in at all levels of a business is key.
What is a common cause of project failure?
The most common theme when discussing this with my clients is buy-in. If you are not able to win people over and get their buy-in within a short period of time, you just won’t get the support required to deliver and the project is likely doomed. Whilst a certain amount of impatience is a good thing, as it can help to move things forward, it is important to understand the rhythm of the business. Once all the key players are aligned, move fast and ensure everyone understands what the end result looks like – good communication is a simple, but often overlooked, focus of change programmes. Leverage energy and momentum and share this spark so that others ignite around you.
What key piece of advice can you share when it comes to a successful change programme?
The most successful interims I know are not afraid to be a path-cutters even if this means doing things differently and implementing experimental initiatives. And if at first they don’t succeed, they try again. Even if something doesn’t work, you will still learn from it. Was the problem the approach or the execution? It’s the execution that’s key – an ‘OK’ strategy well executed will always beat a brilliant strategy badly executed.
Name one blind-spot that can hold back a successful change programme?
The potential of more junior and younger people can often get overlooked. They are important assets with fresh ideas. Get them around the table and give them a voice. Likewise, don’t ignore often-forgotten supporting departments like finance or admin. Go and see them, talk to them and share your vision. A time may well come when their support will mean the difference between success and failure.
WBMS has a record of delivering digital transformation and improvement programmes across the retail, consumer, travel and leisure, TMT, energy, utilities, retail FS and insurance industries. Our invitation-only network of professionals, represent the best interim talent in the market. We can provide talent and capability to meet your resourcing needs and deliver business objectives.