If you ever thought Implementation is boring, I beg to differ. “Making things happen”, identifying what blocks the progress and finding the best way to address them is actually intellectually stimulating and requires a lot of creativity.
When faced with a challenge, you should not give up easily; there is always a solution at hand. Sometimes you may just need to spend that “Rubik’s cube” extra time of turning things around in your head. This process may take a few days or weeks, but it is worthwhile.
When you reflect back on an implementation, note that often it was the “racking your brain”, thinking about the best way to go about the problem, which was actually the fun part. When you need to find a way against many odds to deliver successfully, you can wake up early and start being creative, and most importantly: Think outside-the-box. The time you take at the beginning will save you a lot of effort throughout. Once you have put in that extra effort, you may sit back, relax and roll things out on your own red carpet of implementation.
But what does it mean exactly? Being creative in implementation means using all you have to do the best you can, and you may probably have everything you need right in front of your eyes. I like to think of it as when you don’t have much left in your kitchen but still need to cook a meal; you can take the little you have and come up with something nice. So, when you need to implement a project, when prospects seem dire, think of what you can do; it may only be a question of patching several things together to work some magic.
Planning is key and not having the right resources can be a real problem: Think of combining different resources together to get the right mix. This often works. Like artwork, you have different colours to work on your painting and you need to decide what will match. With art, you are safe even if it doesn’t turn out the way you planned; with implementation, you cannot afford to wait until the end. You need to quickly react and add the right touches to get the colour you wanted back into the picture.
You also need to be creative in aligning the needs of the various stakeholders. Understanding what the organisation wants is one thing, understanding what the organisation needs is another and then there is what each stakeholder is looking for. Conflicting interests is common in organisations and you need to understand what each one is expecting. But at the end these interests need to align somehow: otherwise it will be very difficult to implement. Understanding what people want does not mean taking sides; what you need to do is present what will work and what won’t in order to obtain alignment. When things add up, 95% of people adhere. Therefore, do not hesitate to say out loud when things won’t work and explain why. Never “go with the flow” and endorse things which you know deep down won’t work. If you are the implementer, moving towards the wall is not the way forward.
When it comes to budget, you need to put yourself in the customer’s shoes at all times. If you are a consultant, detailed timecards are an absolute must. This should not be underestimated. As the one who foots the bill, the customer is concerned with the quality of service. It seems that thinking what you would want, if you were yourself the customer, is a creative way of approaching this question. How the budget was spent should be crystal clear so that the customer knows if he got his money’s worth. While some may think it’s much to do about nothing, as a customer, I wouldn’t want to spend time figuring out what was done.
Being creative is also the fact of not following what everyone else is doing just because they are doing it. In implementation things should add up and be logical. If you come across a decision-maker who doesn’t understand the math, it’s not worth pursuing the process of implementation. Whatever you do, it will somehow not be right and factoring in all the creativity in the world will not help you support the organisation in reaching its goals.
To summarise, be creative, think outside the box and apply logic. When you need to do implementation work for an organisation remember this: Don’t make things unnecessarily complex and don’t take short cuts freely. Successful implementation is creativity combined with logic and pragmatism. While it may seem simple, many find it difficult to apply it.