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of people looking up to both of us who depend
on us to represent their best interests during
this project. And to be brutal, if a poor relation-
ship between us were to defeat the project, then
I doubt if either of us will be here in a year.”
Jim talked for a few minutes about how hard
he took his change in status in the business.
But then he stopped, stood up and extended his
hand. “I know I have acted at times like a bit of
work. Maybe an old dog can learn some new
tricks on the way.”
“Thank you, Jim. By the way, you heard Fred
insisting he wants some of our best people on
the project team. I would like you to be one of
“Often, it is managers who set poor example
to the business by not living the values, and
this is transparent to the people below. It takes
courage to have the difficult conversations, the
‘un-discussibles’, to progress forward. Otherwise,
the elephant remains in the room, and there is
no progress because the root cause remains.”
Meaning what we say and
saying what we mean
Michaela recruited a professional project
manager, Gary Strongbow, to manage the
software implementation while she focused her
efforts on building the sales and operations
planning process. Gary took as a given having a
change management issues register as part of
his weekly reporting from his team meetings.
As sponsor, Michaela chaired a steering
committee, composed of the executive team
members excluding Fred. For the most part, Jan
was able to quickly manage most change issues
raised by the project team.
“Here’s a curly one,” said Gary. “We are still
identifying that some of your products are unprof-
itable. The secondee from sales to the project
team insists that there is no way in the world that
Dennis would accept such an outcome.”
“You’re right”, said Dennis. “One of our
customers who buys them is on an industry
association with Fred. Even if I agreed, I doubt if
“This looks to me like one of those things that
only Fred can arbitrate on,” said Michaela.
At the next executive team meeting, the
matter was raised with the CEO. Fred Hottschott
listened intently to the pros and cons of the
debate. Finally, he said: “Here is my decision.
Mary is to check the product costing and if
the answer is still the same, Dennis has the
opportunity to attempt to get the customer
to pay more. Failing that, we will drop the
products. Let’s not forget, we are all measured
on total business performance.”
On the way out, Dennis said to Michaela that
would never have happened even six months
ago. “By the way, I think it is a good decision.”
Nine months later, John Allsop was sitting
with Michaela at a swank restaurant in town.
Fred was so pleased that he had invited the
executive team and project team members out
for a celebratory evening, following a successful
conclusion to New Start.
“You look a lot more relaxed than you were a
year ago. Congratulations.
“Well I think it is pretty generous of Fred to
do this. After all, we did have a mess-up to start
with, and that has caused us to go over budget.
However, Fred is plain delighted to get this far.
The signs are already there that we can now run
our business more profitably. Fred is also trying
to make a statement that good outcomes are to
“When deep into a project’s implementation,
the project aim is often lost. The budget becomes
paramount – we need balance here. Decisions
are made that enable the budget to be met,
but results in project benefits never accruing.
The project aim must stay as the centrepiece.
Decisions must consider the impact on project
aims – we may save a few thousand dollars by
not completing the training required, but it will
cost us tens of thousands in undelivered value.
A medium view must be taken: the next quarter’s
results needs to be balanced with longer-term
value adds and opportunities.”
“Mind if I talk with to you for a minute?”
Michaela nearly fell off her chair to see Jim
Stackmore standing behind her.
Jim said: “Fred told me tonight that the
board has finally agreed to buy a warehouse
management system, which I have been harping
on about for years. He also told me that you
have recommended me to be project manager. I
wanted to say how much I appreciate it.”
“Well, there is one condition, Jim. You
will not forget to give proper attention to
change management via an engagement and
Keith McNeil has implemented various
decision support tools and ERP systems in
several companies as an internal change agent
and as a consultant. Stephen Hanman, founder
of Benchmarking Success and now a MIRA
companion, has consulted in business process
improvement and change management for more
than twenty years. Mainstream and the persons
in the case history are all fictitious; however, the
case study is based on real situations experi-
enced by the authors. Or, as the credits for the
Three Stooges movies used to say: “Any resem-
blance between the characters in this picture
and other human beings is a dirty shame.”
Contact Keith at keithmcneil@optusnet.
com.au or on +61 428 970 748, or Stephen
at firstname.lastname@example.org or on
+61 419 597 744.
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MHD SUPPLY CHAIN SOLUTIONS — SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2014
MHD Sep-Oct 2014 34-55.indd 50
5/09/2014 3:16 pm
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