Recalibrating, Gracefully

Many core banking transformation programs reach a point where they need to stop, re-evaluate the situation, reformulate the plan and start again with a different structure, plan or players.

I think in many cases altering course in a major way is an important and healthy step in a transformation program — but it can be painful and destructive if not performed gracefully.

When to recalibrate?

This is not something to take lightly or perform casually.  A recalibration event requires that the current structure/team/design/plan/budget/schedule or some other critical aspect of the program is no longer tenable or has been found to be fundamentally different from first assumed.

How to recalibrate?

First of all: be clear.  Declare the event, get acknowledgement that the current issues require major changes.  Avoid lingering or semi-recalibrating or trying to make major changes secretively.  It’s OK not to know all the answers, but point out the issues that are driving the recalibration and be clear about why a major shift is required.  In my opinion there should be an alarm installed that flashes a light and rings a bell when the program goes off the rails, everyone should know that this is a critical juncture and that the program needs to be on high alert.

I often think of a team or a program as an engine.  Sometimes something is just sounding off and there are symptoms of misfiring.  Without pulling over, stopping the engine and taking a look it’s hard to get a handle on the issues.  If a major change is required, really lift the hood and check out what’s going on.

What to recalibrate? 

By identifying the barrier to success, it will be clear which aspects are solid and which need to change.  Is this a plan recalibration?  A design recalibration?  Again clarity here is essential.

Formulate a solution:  Define the  scope of change required to correct course.  Avoid throwing away the good stuff.

Remember the team

These programs are large and notoriously challenging.  People are often tired and may have been pushing hard but perhaps in the wrong direction — acknowledge the effort.  Perhaps the assessment and planning period is an opportunity for some recovery for the team?

Do it with style

Early in my career I did some consulting and travelled with another consultant from the U.K. that was an exceptionally good driver but didn’t always know where he was going.  When he acknowledged that he had missed a turn he made up for his gaffe with an amazingly well executed U-turn.  I referred to one of these as “a ballet on wheels” — so now when I think back to those trips I don’t recall the misses, I remember instead the great driving.

Recalibrating quickly, relaunching with style and energy will focus the team on moving in the new direction with renewed energy.

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