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Habit #3 Pick A Sacrificial Lamb | Outsourcing Your Leadership

Another key tactic to have up your sleeve when screwing up a digital business transformation is knowing how to pick a sacrificial lamb. It’s a great way to provide your cover as you single handedly set up someone else to take responsibility for all your failings.

In today’s article, we are going to explore this little-known advice direct from 'The Secret Playbook for Screwing Up Your Digital' Transformation, from the series ‘Habits of Unsuccessful Digital Transformation’.

You can pretend you are leading the Digital Transformation...when're not!

outsourcing your leadership

Let’s govern the heck out of this thing!

Now that you have secured the funding, after ensuring you have followed ‘Habit #2 – Spreading Accountability’, you’ve set up a governance forum and surrounded yourself with a good amount of C-Level business unit owners…and even some that have no role in delivery or any stake in the outcome…just to sure up the numbers.

You are feeling another wave of false confidence as you now have all the structure you need to avert the eyes of ownership of the outcome to others. You think to yourself ‘at least if we stuff this up, we’ll all be in this together…right?...’

Basically, you have done a cracking job at preparing for your…‘oh crap’ moments.

You decide that the forum should meet once a fortnight, as this should keep things on track.

Outsourcing Your Leadership

This is when it is time to pick a sacrificial lamb.

When it comes to picking someone to lead the ‘actual work’ on your behalf, you think about who you should turn to for this.

You’ve heard it 1000 times…business and IT need to be joined at the hip on digital transformation projects.

You think…’ gees…it’s a flip of the coin…do I assign one of my own people…or if this goes wrong do I appoint the IT guy or gal to lead this?...’

I don’t want to lose my best people…so I’ll get IT to lead this…that’ll do the trick!

Your handover to the IT guy or gal involves a briefing of how important this is to the board and the C-Suite within your business…and you tell the IT guy or gal….’ Don’t worry….I’ll be there every step of the way…I’ll be your sponsor in the governance forum to ensure you get whatever you need…and your boss is in there too, so you’ll be well looked after’

The IT guy or gal gives you a wry smile…you can sense their nervousness about the situation, but neither of you speaks up, as you have given them a strong sense that your handover is complete and you have every confidence in them…they have no way to speak up now…

Job has done…now you have successfully appointed your sacrificial lamb and can just sit back and watch your first project go arse up!

Week’s pass…and the cracks are opening-up

The IT person that you, the board, and the C-suite have all placed your trust in is starting to fall behind in the requirement gathering phase of the project to start the ‘system’ build.

You investigate what is going wrong, with your business unit SME by your side, and your IT person admits that they are good at understanding the technical requirements, but are really struggling to understand the business requirements and how they tie into the processes.

The business unit SME nods knowingly at you, and together you decide that it is better if the business unit SME leads the requirements gathering phase.

More week’s pass…and your team have wound up the requirements gathering phase. You are 4 weeks behind schedule, but you are confident you are heading in the right direction, with your SME and the IT person nodding their heads in unison.

The ball is now back in the IT person’s court, as it is time to build the system and test the system out.

More time passes and the build is complete…and the IT person is proud of their work as they run your SME through the test phase…on the ready to give the build a cross or a tick.

Hmmm…something has gone wrong…it seems like none of the requirements the SME described to the IT person are working in the way the SME ‘envisioned’ them working.

You try the same process again and again…you’ve got to hit the bullseye at some stage…surely…

Nope…nothing seems to be working and the heat is on from the board and your governance committee colleagues, as you have gone way beyond what good was supposed to look like for this project.

So you plot a scheme to finally offer up your sacrificial lamb and blame the IT guy or gals' inability to understand requirements as the root cause of the problem. They are released back to their BAU activities…never to be seen in these projects again…

It’s now time to appoint your next ‘sacrificial lamb’…the business unit SME…

Can’t see the wood for the trees?

Is this habit from the ‘Secret Playbook for Screwing Up Your Digital Transformation’ happening in your digital transformation projects? Don’t worry, more and more companies fall into these unintentional habits.

A2B Transformation was created to help mid-market companies achieve growth and operational sustainability through our proven methods that help you avoid or recover from these situations and learn the best way to set up your governance and delivery team for success.

We help you identify the unintentional habits across your entire digital transformation journey to ensure your success!


Talk to a2b today about setting up your digital transformation for success, growth, and operational efficiency.

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