Now, as I noted above, when you come in at the top and are missioned with changing the organization you just took over you need to know what tools you have, how powerful they are, and assess any personal danger before someone gives you a haircut starting midpoint on your neck.
This suggests you need to create a crucible where you toss in a lot of heat, toss in your likely flawed tools, hand hopefully forge something you can use. In this case, you then stand back and assess who you can trust to do what you order, who you can’t trust, who you can use, who you must eliminate, and who you can promote for greater impact.
Once done with this process you then execute a plan to build an organization that is fully loyal to you, won’t leak things they disagree with, who will follow orders, and execute. This was core to Steve Jobs turn around at Apple, he went to extended levels to ensure that dissenters were out of the company and that was a major part of how he turned around a firm that was months from failure and turned it into the strongest, from a financial aspect, company in the world in less than a decade.
Now, at the end of this process, like it was with Jobs, you’d have a leader with exceptional power and that would typically require a strong check and balance and boards have proven ineffective in that role of late. The U.S. congress is dysfunctional at best, which could lead to some severe problems. However, you might also have the ability to fix things that have proven unfixable by any other U.S. President, such as the Veteran’s Administration (VA) or healthcare cost.
So, I think that will be the measure of whether this process works this time (though I can see it’s potential). In other words, if the VA and/or healthcare costs are turned into non-problems we can then go back to this process as the likely cause. We can point to a process like this as being successful in Apple and IBM, but Government is a very different beast so we’ll see.
Overcoming the resistance to change
My grandfather who was a CEO of a petrochemical firm told a couple of jokes so many times they are burned into my memory. One is about the humane donkey trainer who starts by breaking a 2x4 over the donkey’s head. When the farmer asks what the? The trainer says first he has to get the Donkey’s attention. Bureaucracies are very much like that. They resist change and if change is what you are missioned to do you first have to get their attention and then you have to turn the organization from one that is treading water and resisting change to one that is helping you drive it. In effect, you need an alchemist’s crucible, you need to turn lead into gold.
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