Saturday, 29 March 2014

The Boring Bits

When I first start to work with a client we tend to be talking about big things - strategy, growth, leadership, structural changes, conflict. One of the most difficult things can be getting everyone to focus down on the less exciting, but vital, bits of operational execution. Actually making some changes, actually getting rid of some staff, writing protocols, actually hiring some other staff, actually sitting down with difficult people and getting them to change their behaviour, training lawyers and staff etc etc.

Operational execution is the boring bit - the hard slog and the less than glamorous difficulty of getting on with the jobs. One of the reason that lawyers find it difficult is because it tends to be very time consuming - and, since most lawyers involved in the management of their firms are squeezing that in after proper paid work, there is often very little time for execution. Staff have to be spoken to during the working day, suppliers too. Making staff changes takes a huge amount of time - leading to many law firms and chambers trying to take short cuts which can often lead to enormous difficulties (and to tribunals).

The boring bit needs to be done too. Working out the strategy is, to some extent, the easier bit. Execution of plans and strategy is difficult. Having a project plan in place is one thing - but if it isn't communication clearly to the organisation and everyone in it, then it may as well not exist.

As with most of my thoughts, communication is the key to operational success. Communication will have formulated the plan and talking - often and clearly - about the plan as it is put into place is the only way to ensure that it can be implemented effectively and efficiently.

That's the problem - everything has to be done well. For an organisation that has no history of good management (which is, sadly, a great number) there are an awful lot of things to be done at the same time. Strategic thinking, planning, implementation and communication have to be done at the simultaneously.

Nevertheless - they all do need to be done, and if one part is missed off, it is unlikely that anything effective can be done.

So - focus on the boring bits too.

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