The #1 most-important action is recruiting a capable person to own and direct the strategic initiative.
This capable person is a source of leverage. S/he can:
- Shape and influence the vision and strategy, including capturing emergent opportunities that were not originally identified
- Identify and manage interfaces with other strategic initiatives and with ongoing operations (including non-strategic initiatives)
- Attract and negotiate for other resources, including information, people, capital, facilities, etc.
- Build and lead the implementation team
- Inspire people to step outside of their comfort zone and accomplish stretch goals
- Establish governance to assure that benefits are delivered early and incrementally to stakeholders
- Establish metrics and reinforce a culture of accountability
The Capable Program Manager: Competencies & Characteristics
I have drawn upon research from academics (Owen Gaddekin, Richard Leifer and his associates) as well as my personal observations to develop this description of a capable program manager for a strategic initiative. Stated simply,
Program Managers have strengths in strategic thinking (in addition to critical thinking) matched by use of leadership skills, determination and commitment to a vision.
Programs are not simply big projects, and program managers have competencies different from project managers. They,
- Have a long-term and big-picture perspective
- Are systematic and innovative thinkers. They tolerate ambiguity in the problem discovery and concept development phases.
- They have a mindset of abundance (rather than a mindset of scarcity). They scrounge for, find, and empower the best people. They build teams that are characterized by open and fluid cultures.
- Focus heavily on external stakeholders. They continually promote the potential benefits of the program.
- Thrive on relationships and influence
- Are strongly committed to the mission and delivering results. They develop robust strategies with alternative solutions.
- Are selectively involved in project issues. They exercise judgment to recognize profound problems versus the mundane.
- Proactively gather information and insist on results. They ask many questions and listen.
- Are opportunistic, looking for quick wins rather than dogmatic compliance with protocols.
Do you agree with my list of characteristics and competencies?
A Concise Guide to the Differences between Projects and Programs(leadingstrategicinitiatives.wordpress.com)
- Strategic Initiatives | Executive Sponsor Roles, Power, & Politics (leadingstrategicinitiatives.wordpress.com)
- Five Rules for Managing Complex Strategic Initiatives (leadingstrategicinitiatives.wordpress.com)