Starting tomorrow

Back to work tomorrow and into the new job. I’d prefer another week off, but I’m also very grateful to be returning to a totally different role. The last time I returned from a break it was with a feeling of dread. This time it’s curiosity.

I’ve boning up a little on the principles of such a role, but it’s all pretty familiar. Even if you go away doing other things you find the knowledge remains just beneath the skin. Muscle memory plays a big part, and as I use those muscles again in the next weeks I expect it will all come back to me.

That said I’m not sure exactly what to expect. I walk in the door tomorrow and wait to be briefed and updated and pointed in the right direction. I expect it will take a few days before I can act autonomously. There are meetings scheduled and updates on current and pending initiatives and projects I need to get across. Perhaps the biggest thing I’ll have to learn is how they do business – what are the protocols and structure? What is the process for process improvement?

I admit that this is probably what I’m most wary of. From what I’ve been able to gather, which is little, it appears the approach and structure is ad hoc. In a way this is good because it gives me the opportunity to change things up and implement processes and policies as I want them to be – assuming I’m allowed to. It’s not so flash though in that initially I have to make do with what they’ve got in place.

I’m worried that my role wont have the authority necessary to do it properly. It will make little difference to how I operate – I’m not about to dial it down to 4, and I’ll do (or try to) exactly as I believe is necessary. The issue is on the other side of it. If the role lacks the appropriate leverage then buy-in becomes and issue, as does a sense of ‘seriousness’.

For example, I’m a strong believer in processes and controls. You need a structured and measurable approach to these matters. That is what I would like to implement, as opposed to the more laissez-faire approach seemingly now in place. I need buy-in and acceptance for such changes, but without authority it can be difficult to shift people from entrenched positions. There’s a natural resistance to change, and an easy willingness to accept the casual way of getting things done because it’s easier and simpler.  But of course the truth is that without a formal process things are missed, overlooked or misunderstood, situations are not properly mapped and measured, and benefits never fully identified, captured or secured. You need a system to do that.

It’s almost certain I’ll be walking in and assuming ownership of other people’s IP mid-project. That’s fine if I’m on-board with the plan, but if I make an assessment and find it untidy or misdirected (and most likely too small) then I have to make the best of it – either by following through on the plan, or attempting to renovate it on the fly – never a good idea.

One of the other things I want to get across is probably outside of my remit, but will have a significant impact upon my effectiveness. Basically I’m talking about the vertical interactions and integration as well as the horizontal. I take a very holistic approach to these jobs knowing that everything is connected. That means that you have to account for such variables – where do the dominoes fall? That requires cross-functional assessment. At the same time to implement change requires the expertise of other areas, which must be properly regulated to work. In other words, there needs to be an established process to manage these different channels and to escalate to the appropriate level as required. We’re starting to move into PMO territory there, and there isn’t one. There should be, but it’s way beyond the scope of my job, and I suspect even my manager’s job.

Anyway, it’ll all come out in the wash in the next few days, and far from being negative about I feel invigorated by the challenge. You see, I want to do those things. I want to assume responsibility. I want to move and shake and be the man. I just have to position myself to do that.

In the meantime I might just drive my manager mad.

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