Implementing Principles of Transformation Change Part 8 “Address Correct Infrastructure AND Capability Simultaneously”


In the simplest terms this principle, driven by “Systems Thinking”, we suggest that all significant improvement programmes must integrate and incorporate the introduction of both;

Tools, Techniques, Methods and Work Processes AND People Development into the same initiative.

The diagram below illustrates the three key sets of activity that need to be joined up to ensure initiatives work effectively.


Although this appears to be a simple concept, many organisations fail to do this.

When we look at their initiatives they are either predominantly driving sets of tools and techniques into the business or alternatively there are People Development Programmes (Training) to enhance and improve the skills of key people in the business. Alas, this silo’ed approach of either one or the other never allows initiatives to reach their full potential. Most companies have both, but aren’t joined up!

We have seen this many times with the introduction of such programmes as Six Sigma, TPM, and Lean etc. It requires a Systems Thinking mentality to ensure that these processes are joined together.

Below in a real case study we show how we have combined the two elements together to produce the right activities in a real-life scenario. This approach created a step change in the clients;

  • Tangible Results
  • Upskilling of the key employees
  • Appropriate Change in Culture

Infrastructure and Capability Processes to Support Chartered Projects

Below is a model that shows the supporting processes required for an organisation to support the successful implementation of structured projects. Chartered Projects come from various situations in a business and this model assumes that the NewLeaf International OGSM process is driving projects from agreed Strategies at various levels of the business.

The model is split into three main components;

  • The “task based” activities to deliver the project. The spine of the model. In red
  • The “infrastructure” required in the business to support the project leader and their teams. Usually, these activities are led by the managers sponsoring the projects. The blue boxes.
  • The “capability” elements are the processes that ensure that the right people are leading the right projects and are developed during the course of the delivery of the project. These elements are in green

The Spine

  1. Identified Project Hopper

A process where by senior managers allocate key projects to the business. The strategies in OGSM should be projects that need to be delivered. However, in a business with hundreds of employees and three OGSM Tiers or more, potentially there can be thousands of “projects”.

Of course, at Tier 3 many of the projects would be managed locally, but large key projects, likely to have been generated at Tier1 or Tier 2 must be prioritised given the business situation and the resource available. The term “Project Hopper” in this model represents that process. Agreeing which projects should be done when. The others not to be worked on immediately are filtered into actions once others are complete or business priorities change. A regular agenda item at a senior meeting could be the method for this activity.

  1. Agreed Projects and Scope

This is a process that is often neglected or simplify not done properly.

For key large projects senior managers need to agree what the scope of a project is. If this is not done effectively “Project Creep” appears and what was once a clear project for the project leader becomes an intangible monster that is unmanageable. When senior managers agreed on what the project scope is, alignment is created and the project leaders understands “the business” supports the project and there is far less chance of people changing the project mid delivery or added additional tasks to it.

The scope should be a paragraph that can be read by someone that has no connection with the topic and understands it and it should also describe what the projects is meant to achieve and what NOT.

  1. Project Allocation

In many business projects are given to the “Usual Suspects”. People who are regularly delivering projects and improvements in the business. Companies should break out of that habit and look at the opportunities to develop more people from the business to deliver improvement projects.

Using a critical process of picking new project leaders must be used, but the opportunities to think differently and involve more people on more projects is enormous.

  1. Delivery and Progress (use of key tools)

Apart from the various tools and techniques needed by the project leader and the team, tracking and review processes should be used to enable the project leader and team to be supported by the business effectively. The following three are key;

A. Charters; Charters should be written, not only to ensure clarity but also act as a regular “checking and review” process. Good charters should have;

  • Project title in line with OGSM Strategies
  • Team Leader
  • Team Members (approx. 6 with leader)
  • The Scope
  • The objectives or outcomes with illustrates the step by step approach
  • Measures of success, not only hard quantifiable results, but also measures that so the projects team are working effectively. Such as attendance at meetings and actions completed on time
  • Schedule of all regular meetings for the duration of the projects
  • An ongoing list of actions generated and completed
  • The project sponsor (usually a senior manager)
  • The project leaders mentor (a person to support the leader’s development and help address issues and potential barriers)

B. ABCD Sheet; this is a simple sheet that the project leader completes when attending 1:1 meetings with sponsor or mentor which list;

  • Achievements
  • Benefits
  • Concerns
  • To DosPersonal

C. Personal Development Plans (PDPs). Project are a productive way of delivering business results AND developing people in the business as they deliver those results. Therefore a simple process, possibly derived from an appraisal process, should be reviewed showing the 2-3 key skills the leader should be trying to use during the project delivery.


Too often a business will focus solely on the business results. That is understandable, but also the business should review and actively encourage the projects to deliver development for the leader and the team and also highlight issues in the business that are uncovered during the delivery. All too often issues are dismissed as unnecessary diversions and irritations, but in reality these issues exist anyway and are creating problems in the business that will hinder progress later.

The Infrastructure

In line with other NewLeaf International models and its change management philosophies, this model has the two key elements that must work together Infrastructure and Capability to support the key a project activities highlighted in the “Spine”. The key components of the infrastructure are;

  1. Business Expectations

 All managers should ensure that projects are positioned such that they are clear, important, it’s invaluable to the business, in line with the business needs and importantly why the project leader and the team have been chosen for the project. Also, the projects needs to be positioned so they are done in the right sprit and within the company operating principles and expected behaviours. This is not a “one off” exercise, but an ongoing progress.

  1. Business Methods (tools and techniques)

An important part of the infrastructure is the correct use of tools and techniques to deliver the projects. Within an organisation the key methods should be standardised. Often these methods are derived from the famous programmes and methodologies such as Lean, World Class Manufacturing, 6 Sigma etc. Also, these tools should include standardise methods for running meeting and running informal and formal problem solving activities.

Many companies in the past have inadvertently majored on the tools and techniques as the overall approach instead of seeing them as valuable tools to deliver the correct business results once the company as developed its overall approach and cascaded the Objectives, Goals, Strategies and Measure

  1. Business Support

On a day to day basis project leaders and their teams should be supported by their manager and their management team. Senior managers and the project leader’s direct manager should continually help maintain direction and support them by;

  • Envisioning
  • Enabling
  • Energising

Unfortunately this often goes missing.

The Capability

In line with other NewLeaf International models and its change management philosophies, this model has the two key elements that must work together Infrastructure and Capability to support the key a project activities highlighted in the “Spine”. Capability Improvement far too often is a completely separate set of tasks done in a “silo”. However, key capability assessment and ongoing development should be integrated into project delivery.

The key components of the capability are;

  1. Organisational Capability

Work should be done to ensure that the right ability at the right levels are in place to support project delivery. Such as;

  • Leadership
  • Direction
  • Communication
  • Review processes
  • Team working
  • Problem Solving Culture

Assessing these things effectively will highlight the gaps in the business to support improvement. This is rarely done and in most cases leads to disappointing project delivery and therefore results

  1. Capability Gap Analysis

As mentioned before projects leaders are sometimes “just given a project” or the projects are led by just a few faithful people in the business. A process must be used to identify the best project leaders and team members to be used to deliver projects

Consideration must be made to;

  • The appraisal system identifying new leaders
  • Creating the right criteria for leaders, sponsors and team members based upon their ability and not just their availability. The criteria should be broken down into;
    • Knowledge…how to run a project
    • Skill…how to manage the team and time scales/milestones
    • Attitude or mind set…doing the right thing

Too often leaders are chosen based upon their technical knowledge of the subject and not their ability to lead.

  • New people in the business, based upon above criteria should be identified and used to create new thinking.
  1. Development Support

During the delivery of the project the project lead and team should be supported either by the sponsor and also a mentors to aid the development elements. This can be one skilful person, but it’s often better to be done separately.

The support is regular coaching and review of Personal Development Plan (PDP) to ensure the leader is maximising the opportunities to learn and develop and issues and potential barriers are being address.

 Martin Gummery, Managing Director, NewLeaf International Ltd

Tel: 01905 425209