Implementation is making something happen. At a high-level (organisational), it means making the strategy happen; at a lower level (‘business-unit’) it means making the policies and guidelines happen.
Untrained managers often think that writing a policy is what their job is about. Naively, they think that physically showing it to staff (or telling them where it is) will magically mean that it will be acted on. Wrong! Writing the policy (no matter how tedious) is the easy bit. 90% is the implementation.
Implementation involves planning, execution and control. The public sector, the NHS in particular, has a poor record in this regard. Partly this may reflect the culture of NHS management, which is one of overriding influence from the centre. Personally, I suspect it is because implementation is difficult and we don’t train people to do it. A helpful way to consider successful implementation is to think about the things that hinder it. Here are five well-known barriers to implementation:
- Unsupportive organisational structure
- Different stakeholder requirements
- Organisational politics
- Poor understanding of process management issues
- Low status of the project team
Are they relevant in your situation? If so, don’t ignore them, but plan how you are going to tackle them. If this seems too daunting, consider brain-storming with a trusted colleague or two. Maintain a sense of perspective, give feedback, and have fun – there is nothing more engaging than genuine, child-like, enthusiasm!
In later posts, I’ll talk about forming action-learning sets.