Let's examine two scenarios for improving leader effectiveness during a significant organisational change—a traditional what approach, and our why–who–how approach.

scenario 1

Your executive team has asked you to develop and roll out a leadership development program as part of their new performance improvement initiative. You need to quickly prepare a high-level project plan for management approval.

scenario 2

Your organisation must significantly improve performance. Without leaders (managers) performing effectively, senior management believes improvement efforts will fail. You need to decide how to move forward using our 4 big questions.

comparing our two scenarios

What do you believe each project team will be most focused on?

When do you believe each project would be considered finished?

Which scenario do you believe will create the most value over the long-term?

scenario 1

typical tasks

  1. research available programs
  2. get a list of managers from HR
  3. send RFP to the best vendors
  4. review RFPs and select vendor(s)
  5. decide external or internal delivery
  6. develop and validate curriculum
  7. get sponsor sign-off
  8. coordinate with training department
  9. develop registration process
  10. get the budget approved
  11. send program announcement
  12. determine classroom requirements
  13. develop a schedule
  14. send registration letters
  15. print course materials
  16. confirm qualified trainers
  17. develop competency tests
  18. produce feedback surveys
  19. develop reporting system
  20. deliver the training... done!

when asked to prepare a draft project plan, teams quickly identify
up to 20 tasks before proudly declaring,
We are finished!

scenario 2

typical tasks

  1. identify our most effective leaders today and understand what they do differently and why
  2. based on internal and external research, develop a prototype list of leader behaviours that should deliver the desired results
  3. hold manager focus groups to understand what support they need to deliver the desired results
  4. ask focus group managers how the prototype list of behaviours might improve results
  5. ask focus group managers what it would take for them to adopt the prototype list of behaviours
  6. hold employee focus groups to understand what support they need to deliver the desired results
  7. get the two focus groups together to compare notes and develop a path forward
  8. based on the reasons identified for any current shortfalls, develop and test the types of support and tools people say they need to improve performance

when asked to use our 4 big questions, teams get about this
far before declaring,
We do not know enough to go any further

How might a why–who–how approach be used in your organisation? What would it take to give it a try?

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