Steve Pinkus is a self-employed management consultant who, over the years, has been part of the “clean up crew” on numerous change assignments for private and public enterprises.
Author can now be added to his list of skills. His book, titled Big Change, defines itself as a 10-step plan to affect large organizational transformations from the inside.
Pinkus wrote it with the plea that all executives read “this book so that they don’t make the mistake of abdicating their leadership of a critical transformation to an external team. Organizations need to lead their own change. Instead they are farming it out to external groups.”
Indeed that theme is a constant throughout the 212-page book: Consultants can be useful in getting the right solution, particularly on the big picture stuff because “they have done it globally.”
But the same consultants aren’t so good when it comes to implementation. “You need to figure out how to do a lot of the work yourself,” said Pinkus, who has both the academic credentials, (an MBA) and decades of practical experience (as an employee at large companies, at a large consultancy firm and as a self employed “worker in the trenches.”) “The (big) consultancy firms don’t know how to get it done,” he added.
The Pinkus view takes place against the backdrop of a sustained increase in the pace of change, an increase brought about by global competition, the fall-out from mergers and acquisitions, organizations’ need to change strategy, and the effects of technology – the new major area of the work by Pinkus.
“With a major technology change, the biggest change-piece is not the technology but the process change, a larger change than simply learning a new application,” he said.
Pinkus, whose views are consistent with those of John Kotter, a Harvard Business School professor, is clear on another point, the link between transformational change and management skills. “It needs to be a core competency of the senior management team, of knowing how to do this. It never used to be because 15 years back you would hire (a consultant) and (those ideas) would be good for five years,” he said.
While the book devotes 10 chapters to leading large transformational change, Pinkus was asked for his top three ideas. Here is his list:
Getting “true” understanding, commitment and support at the executive level. ”Getting the leaders to agree is not enough. They need understanding, agreement and support. They, the chief executive and other C-level folks, have to be involved,” he said, noting, that, “about half the projects go wrong are because the C-suite is not behind it.”Assembling a team, rather than using the project management group. “For a transformation you are picking a person or a team that is going to make or break the organization. They better be the right people, that know your business and make the right decisions,” said Pinkus.The need for an “early and extensive” project and change plan. How extensive? Pinkus argues the plan should run from when “the decision is made to well beyond the time the plan is implemented,” and should include the communication, the training, “and the nuts and bolts of what has to be done.” In his business, Pinkus focuses on the nuts and bolts. Indeed he argues that a real key is “sustaining” the change. “It’s not over when it’s live,” declares Pinkus.