I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Glen Salow, former Executive Vice-President - Service Delivery & Technology, Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. One of the questions I ask all leaders when given the opportunity is "From your point of view, as a leader, what is the hardest lessons you learned as a leader over your career?" Glen spoke about many things and was very passionate about Change Management.
Glen’s response to this question is below:
I will tell you the lesson I learned that hit me the hardest… that should not have – I should never have had to learn because it’s so obvious it’s painful – was that if a client wasn’t along for the ride, you’re going to fail. And it doesn’t matter – it doesn’t matter about anything else.
If ultimately the people who are supposed to use and benefit the system aren’t with you along the way it doesn’t matter … even if you deliver to them something extraordinary, because they were not part of it, the organism will reject it. I led the development of a very sophisticated system at a past employer that really gave the sales and trading people – could have given the sales and trading people – extraordinary insights into what their institutional clients looked like and a variety of other things.
But because it was developed under the auspices of “IT is going to show you what you could do with IT business.” Instead of “We’ve got this idea, what do you guys think? Is it something we should pursue and be sponsoring?” It failed horribly – regardless of what it was really capable of doing.
From that point on, I’ve got to tell you, I’ve been an absolute fiend about client focus!
One of my rules at Ameriprise was that if you came to me with a proposal, and inevitably proposals are embedded in decks, if the front page of the deck didn’t lead with “it’s in our client’s best interest to … because …” I didn’t want to see it. I didn’t want to have the conversation.
It was interesting watching people who were trying to do infrastructure proposals, as an example, have to really think about client impact. But I’m at my best when I hold true to that philosophy and I make mistakes when I don’t.
P.S. I also asked Glen which book that he recommends and/or had an impact on his career. He is a fan of "The Checklist Manifesto"