Monday, December 05, 2016
Politicking can kill not just projects, but damage enterprise value systems !
It was an opportunity of a lifetime for the newly appointed team of the entity formed as a joint venture between two behemoths; anyone would have vied for a part of the action, the team was handpicked with high performers in their respective fields. They collectively created an audacious vision for the project with many pioneering steps none of which had been successfully executed in the past. The endorsed vision required engagement of experts from various disciplines to be brought together for specific activities.
Well-funded, they sought the best in each field to take charge of the tasks and forge ahead to fulfil the vision – a talking point within the industry. The best felt a sense of excitement at attempted the almost impossible, they came onboard easily; the energy of the team was infectious and recruited others with ease. Surprisingly the team of experts did not cross swords with each other and rather collaborated happily with each other, the glue being the leader and success that would deliver self-actualization.
One such duo comprising strategic and operational excellence was on boarded to shape the systems, process, and technology, a necessary foundation for success. Both were industry legends in their own right, their collaboration was expected to bring the necessary magic required. They hit off well with the veteran providing experience to rein in youthful ambition and risk taking; the project thus took off with the industry amazed at the quality of inputs and discussions based on the benchmark beating framework conceptualized.
Well and ill-intended pressure notwithstanding, the team delivered a path breaking schema at which everyone gawked at in disbelief. Global interest kindled, the battle was well fought among partners who wanted to be part of the now much discussed project. Surprisingly for everyone, the underdogs went on to impress the evaluation team to win the project much to the dismay of few sore losers who attempted to undermine the credibility of the winners; with time the pressure eased off and the team started execution.
Emboldened by success, the organization retained the consultants for further definition of tech based projects, evaluation and award to thus selected partners. Transparent evaluation criteria was the hallmark of past success where aspersions could not be cast on any step or player; the second project too benefited from similar governance thus cementing the relationship between consultant and company. The industry applauded the partnership and spread the good news around for others to emulate.
The organization had now got used to the best and success that came easily riding on the experience of the consultant. The third project of reasonable complexity had multiple solution possibilities and thus many providers who could have executed with varied degrees of success. Lobbying started from the inception and announcement with providers and integrators, big and small, pushing for change in specifications and dilution of qualification criteria, and leniency in the evaluation process to give a chance to every aspirant worthy only in their own eyes.
Business team faced pressure; influencers of all types – good, bad, ugly – pushed the team to accommodate vested interests. They met the consultant, cajoled, threatened, and attempted every trick to swing the decision making criteria in their favor. Some of the changes were forced to accommodate additional vendors with clout with senior management and the Board. The consultant uncomfortable through the process, continued to work in the interest of the project and the relationship with the team that had brought success.
The bids were finally accepted after multiple changes and timeline extensions; many bidders were beginning to lose hope smelling something fishy. The consultant remained tight lipped and started evaluation of the submissions and turned in his recommendations. After that days became weeks and months with no announcement as the partners hounded the Consultant for updates. Clueless he redirected everyone to the evaluation committee head, who steadfastly maintained that evaluation was still on.
Unknown to the Consultant, the lobbying with the management had taken its toll; some of the new staff members were willing to bend the rules in return for favors. They poisoned the effort and proclaimed inadequacy of specifications as well as evaluation by the Consultant, recommending scrapping the project, which unfortunately was accepted. Aghast the Consultant exited the relationship which threatened to compromise the value system on which the relationship was built, and damage his credibility.
It is evident what went wrong, some of which was controllable, and some probably not with vested interests holding power over decision makers. The collapse of the value system unfortunately polluted the rest of the enterprise which prided itself on its professionalism and lofty audacious goals that they had proclaimed, attempted and completed successfully. A year later, the company was looking no different from any other in the industry, the magic was lost and the high performers had moved on !
People build companies, people destroy companies too !