10 Challenges Facing the Transformation Programme and Project Champions or Sponsors

By Roger Burghall, Vince Grant, John Morgan

Strategy deployment will need a series of projects and activities that ideally are sponsored or championed by leaders and managers. But the Champions are likely to face a series of challenges. Hopefully, none of these will be ‘herculean’ tasks to address but they will need addressing.

And at the top level of the organisation, the same can be said of the champions and sponsors of the transformation as a whole.

Generating a list of the challenges facing Champions and their teams is easy! The following list reflects many of the common problems experienced in organisations. You might want to generate your own list using negative brainstorming. It’s good fun, albeit somewhat daunting when you consider the output:

  1. Ineffective Improvement Charters that are, for example, too vague or too large. And the same applies to the Transformation Charter, too.

  2. Team members don’t always share a unified direction or vision – they should do, of course, but do they really want to get to the True North you’re heading towards?

  3. The wrong mix of skills or functional representation in the team. Getting the right balance is vital in ensuring successful projects and appropriate buy-in, so make sure the right parties are involved.

  4. Champions, team members or leaders not spending enough time on the projects, or transformation sponsors not spending sufficient time reviewing the overall progress of the strategy deployment. Schedule time in the diary now and make sure the space isn’t taken up by inappropriate diversions.

  5. Pressure for immediate financial impact or enhanced service delivery leads to inappropriate shortcuts that frustrate the team members (or everyone involved) and discredit the systematic approach being promoted.

  6. Other key stakeholders are not fully supportive of the overall transformation approach, or the team’s projects. Beware of lip service.

  7. Inadequate budget or time to complete the programme and its individual projects, or to properly implement recommended solutions.

  8. Competing or conflicting project objectives among different improvement teams simply lead to confusion. Beware sub-optimisation.

  9. ‘Scope creep’ – the programme and its constituent projects keep getting bigger. Stay focused and spend time upfront to help ensure scope creep is avoided, or at the very least minimised.

  10. Poorly managed handovers, and a lack of manager or supervisor buy-in to new ways of working that result in a lack of integration of the improvements into the organisation.

The important thing is to be aware of these issues and actively seek to anticipate and prevent them.