Over the past seven months, I’ve had the opportunity to work on a security and compliance project that is truly once in a career. The project was of a scale that I have never worked on with a core program team over twelve people and an execution team that numbered in just over a couple thousand. I was averaging over eighty-plus hours a week and had to context switch between technical engineering at the “deck level” to executive briefings and status updates and everything in between. It challenged me like at no other time in my career.
Two weeks ago, we implemented the final change that closed the project, and since that time I have been reflecting at what we accomplished, and while yes I’m impressed by that, I’m more impressed with how we accomplished it. In the past few weeks I’ve cut my work hours in half, my responsibilities have drastically reduced and I feel as though I’ve fallen off a cliff.
My reflections on my experiences in this project and many, below are a few of the highlights:
I am grateful for everyone who supported me during the project, gave me advice, brought me a drink when I was in back to back meetings, and generally was understanding.
In the words of West Wing’s President Bartlet, “What’s Next?”
The quote above is one of my favorites and embodies one of my core tenants and beliefs. Change is going to happen. As leaders one of our roles is to usher change into an organization be it through technology, process, the people we hire or by our actions and our inactions. Change is how we leave our mark on an organization.
When approaching an opportunity to effect change, I tend to sketch out answers to the following questions:
This allows me to know why and where we are in the position we are in today and why and where I want us to be in the future. The how is missing. It’s missing because it’s easy to get lost in the how. Once I know the direction then I can start thinking of “how we get there”. This also allows me to involve others without having created a path and therefore not tainting their thoughts with my own. It also gives others the ability to embrace the change as their own, and they now have a stake in its success.
The preference should always be given to building consensus and buy-in when implementing change. This does not mean you seek permission, but you lead others to your position and shared ownership of the change emerges. The alternative is to affect change by dictatorial fiat, and while your change may be implemented you will be the first under the bus if anything goes wrong.