Accelerating Change Programmes

Seeking the approaches that enable faster change in the complex world of health and social care

Governance – critical for acclerating change

Recent events have reminded me of the importance of governance and how easy it is to be distracted by other things. When governance is unclear, the impact on the pace of change and team motivation is significant. Without a clear and effective governance framework, a range of unhelpful behaviours begin to emerge resulting in much slower progress than would be possible. Decisions aren’t made, assurance isn’t clear, people either take on more responsibility, or more likely avoid it, escalation processes don’t work effectively and become very political, or decisions are made ‘off-piste’ by individuals or groups that may have specific agendas. These are just some of the things that can happen to slow you down, I could go on, but I won’t.

The key aim of good governance should be to enable  delegated responsibility within clear parameters. It allows senior leaders to establish the strategic outcomes and drivers behind a particular change, but enable other leaders to take responsibility over what is to be done and how it will be approached in order to deliver the required outcomes.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve reflected upon my own complex change world and there are 3 lessons I’d like to impart about governance in complex change environments:

  1. Governance isn’t just some boxes and lines on a diagram, it’s way deeper, it needs to include roles and responsibilities of groups and individuals, and these need to fit together in a cohesive manner. It needs to define leadership structures, work with project, programme and change management processes, define financial accountabilities, decision making authority, reporting responsibilities, escalation routes, benefits ownership, engagement, design ownership and assurance processes.
  2. Neither is it a 200 page dossier detailing all of the above. Detail will also slow down change through complex, multi layer processes or responsibilities that are so well defined, people stopping working together.
  3. Even if you have the balance of detail right (by avoiding 1 & 2 above), people still need to follow the agreed governance otherwise it will be ignored. Project and Programme managers are often the custodians of operating governance, however it is important to ensure there is buy-in at the highest levels, otherwise the ‘off-piste’ activities will ruin it for everyone.

Governance isn’t everyone’s favourite subject, and it certainly isn’t mine. When it works well, you hardly notice that it is, but when it doesn’t, you notice, and particularly you will notice the slow down in pace.  Governance is therefore critical, something to grasp and make effective, even if its not your bag, otherwise it may ruin your complex change.

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This entry was posted on 21/03/2016 by in accelerators, change.
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