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Mind the gap

When travelling by train, we'll often see the sign:

Mind the Gap

It's there to keep us safe, to manage our personal risk and to prevent issues.

As we journey through a change initiative, it really can be like boarding a train.

  • There are (should be) rails to guide us like the expected outcomes, benefits, strategic guidelines - a management framework is a real help in getting and keeping us on track

  • There should be (is) a bit of a timetable

  • There are passengers we need to take with us - people paying for the tickets, those travelling along the line

  • There may be other trains that we need to consider where we have connecting services

If you think about it there are numerous potential areas where we have to mind the gap

Let's focus on a few

Acknowledging there are many potential gaps that we have to mind, let's focus on a few...

  1. Knowledge now - we need to make sure we have enough certainty for the decisions we need to make before we make them. This doesn't mean a perfect plan before we start but does allow for a plan that is refined as we go - assume little and engage with the stakeholders and subject matter experts (SMEs) who know.

  2. Acquired knowledge - our future state will mean our knowledge changes - keeping our SMEs onboard throughout as first class passengers will make a huge difference - projects shouldn't be submarines that dive and go into silent running with only select members of the crew knowing about the mission. Instead, make sure your SMEs are responsible for their area of the project and are acquiring the best information at an optimal time

  3. Multi-thread/multi-vendor projects - these can be some of the hardest gaps to mind. They take effort to understand, there has to be some extent of mingling of cultures identifying the cross dependencies and amplifying communication so that all the appropriate channels have the same message, timeline, objectives, designs in mind - fail to do this and the time, cost and quality gaps will get larger and larger. If we try to save on time and cost, it's pretty certain there'll be big gaps in quality.

  4. Skills - projects have beginnings, middles and ends. In the end the objective is to generate the desired outcome and close the project out to business as usual. It's not 100% true, but largely speaking, the best skills for the future state could already be in the organisation. We need to know what we've got in place in BAU before we start to make changes, ideally we work with existing SMEs to identify, configure and deliver the future state as we go. If we have too many affected resources and teams, we need to be intentional about transition to BAU from the start of the project and make sure we have the right capability and capacity at the best time for both project and BAU - always know if you've got connecting passengers and that they know about any changes to the timetable or the route

Those are a few gaps to consider... what else would you avoid?

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