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Making Things Happen! – reflections on “virtual” COO service

The month of December marked 11 months since the launch of Solitaire’s “virtual” COO service (Virtual Chief Operating Officer)– a service aimed at providing businesses (and business leaders) with an experienced and proven, senior operational resource on a part-time flexible basis. 

Of course, there is nothing “virtual” about the service – it is very real, tangible and visible! – and in a series of short articles over the coming weeks we’ll set out the specific ways in which we’ve been able to bring value to clients through this service.  

Each of them is a synopsis of one of the four pillars of Solitaire Consulting Service: 

  1. Driving Change,
  2. Improving Governance,
  3. Lowering Risk and
  4. Engaging People

This week, we’ll focus on Engaging People 

Engaging your People

This is perhaps the most important of the four pillars we will be covering in these articles. 

It is sometimes difficult to engage your people in operational change and improvement.  There is never a shortage of ideas, feedback and opinion – and this is great! – but what business sometimes suffer with is getting their people involved in contributing to the change and giving up some of their precious time to drive it forward. 

It doesn’t matter how much you try and “protect” certain colleagues and BaU, you will always need them to contribute at some point; whether it be during the scoping, problem definition or later, the testing phase of any project. 

We often find the best way to create long-lasting engagement with your people is to involve them from the outset.  Understandably, no one likes being handed a project at the delivery stage and being told to “get on with it”! 


We find the best ways to engage your people at the outset of any change or project is as follows, although these aren’t hard and fast rules, and it depends on the project, here are 6 suggestions; 

  1. GET OPINIONS:  Involve your Team / people at the scoping stage of the project.  Make sure you get their feedback on the business problems which exist and their views on what needs to change.  Most of your best ideas will come from your people! 
  2. GATHER REQUIREMENTS:  Always involve a small group of people who will be the beneficiaries of the project, downstream, at the very start – for example when getting Business Requirements.  This helps ensure that whatever solution is being conceived or delivered meets with end-user expectation.  It also creates and environment where your people feel involved, consulted and engaged from the very start. 
  3. EFFECTIVE MILESTONES:  Always use project milestones and gateways to “check-in” with key people and key stakeholders; to ensure the project is on track, is delivering what is expected and to gather important “pulse checks” on progress.
  4. COMMUNICATE:  Always issue informative and engaging communications.  These can be short, pithy and to the point – and formal or informal – but the point is:  always keep your people updated on how the project is doing.
  5. FREQUENT REPORTING:  Always hold regular project meetings – not only does this demonstrate effective project governance (see our other blog on Lowering Risk), but it also allows an avenue for discussion, reporting and questions. 
  6. TEST TEST TEST!   Always test whatever it is you are delivering before you roll it out to all Users.  Insufficient testing has been the death knell of many past projects. 

At Solitaire Consulting, we can facilitate this transformation and have a wealth of experience modernising technology, and end user experience.  We will work with you to understand your starting point, and existing environment, and form a 3-to-5-year technology strategyfuture state blueprint and transformation roadmaps.  

If you’re a business leader and aren’t 100% happy at the way your business is currently being run – feel free to download our quick diagnostic document and start a conversation with us today.

Download: Virtual COO – Two Minute Diagnostic  or contact us for an initial conversation of your current challenges

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