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Simplify your Vision to the size of an elevator pitch

  • Drive for clarity of purpose - ‘Simple, Open, Certain’ ‘Making tax simpler, more open and certain for New Zealanders to pay their taxes and receive their entitlements’. Inland Revenue's core proposition supports the reason for the transformation and will remain relevant for the lifetime of the organisation.
  • Complexity leads to Vision dilution - The higher the complexity of the vision, the higher the dilution and divergence as it permeates through the organisation.

Think through the strategic consequences of your strategy, both intended and unintended

  • Think about the long-term consequences of your strategy. For example, expanding your digital border shifts development costs, and places customer interaction at arm’s length so you can drive your own operational costs down. It also creates a long-term dependency on partners for speed of change. Is that what you really want?
  • Your thinking may not be wrong, just ensure that strategy is fully considered, and unintended consequences mitigated as part of the strategy.
  • Once it is clear, then commit.

Strong, adaptive leadership is not a ‘nice to have’ for transformation, it is an essential

  • A strong, committed executive leadership team is critical for successful transformation. Strong leaders provide direction and are willing to take difficult decisions.
  • They may not always be right, but it is easier to change the direction of a moving ship than it is to restart a ship which has stopped. Have significant courage in their convictions.

Big ideas often start as a whisper

  • As a leader, listen to those around you, multiple voices will allow you to calibrate. Make time for contemplation, be curious and follow the trail. Do not shut things down too early when at first blush it does not seem possible or useful.

We did not 'do Agile' we 'were Agile' or more correctly - we were adaptive

  • Select methods which are fit for purpose. It's ok to have multiple methods in play at any one time, it's not often one size fits all. We used pure Agile to implement START Integrity and Discovery Managers and the Data and Intelligence Platform (DIP) used an iterative methodology for core product development.

Be constantly curious

  • Leaders are learners. Be open to new ideas, always seek to grow and develop new skills.
  • Roll your sleeves up and get into the detail not only when needed, but routinely. It will create an expectation with the team that the details could be examined at any point.

Too big to fail is a myth

  • Budget is not a target. Drive value and cost control ruthlessly.
  • Budget liberally (give yourself headroom) but execute and control cost ruthlessly. Better to release funds as risks recede, than keep asking for more as issues arise.
  • Protect your contingency, and use it wisely.

Celebrate intellectual and personality diversity

  • Understand your team’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Work as a team drawing on your distribution of strengths
  • We don't all think the same. For example:
    • process oriented versus big picture
    • cup half full versus half empty
    • exceptional memories versus creative problem-solving skills.
  • If you find yourself in the ‘valley of despair’ look around, there are likely to be others feeling the same. Open up and help each other out.
  • Pick the right people, those with the essential qualities of good judgment, uncompromising commitment to transparency, integrity and with the right attitude.

Speculate and suffer

  • Facts matter. Be fact based, do not speculate.
  • Ask your customers and stakeholders for their view - do not assume you know what they are thinking.
  • Drive hard for as much fact-based data as you can in the time you have to make the decision.
  • But don't analyse forever or you will either miss the opportunity or create other problems through inaction.

No-one gets left behind

  • Across the life of the transformation, there will be periods of highs and also lows, impacting individuals and the wider team.
  • Make time for people to recharge.
  • Celebrate achievements, periods of great progress and milestones.

Convergence is key

  • All activities need to converge to a point of outcome. Structure teams to drive for convergence not divergence.
  • Set your overarching framework and methodology to drive convergence.
  • With such a broad and large team, create opportunities along the way to converge and test thinking is still aligned - bookends, touch points, design review workshops and so on.
Last updated: 23 Jun 2022
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