Wanted: Superman

Wanted: brilliant physicist to lead the Perpetual Motion Institute (PMI). It's a catch-22. In Joseph Heller's brilliant novel, this badly misused metaphor was a combat exemption clause. To get it, you simply applied for it. But, applying for the catch-22 automatically disqualified you from receiving it.

Wanted: brilliant physicist to lead the Perpetual Motion Institute (PMI).

It’s a catch-22. In Joseph Heller’s brilliant novel, this badly misused metaphor was a combat exemption clause. To get it, you simply applied for it. But, applying for the catch-22 automatically disqualified you from receiving it.

This is also the case for anyone applying for the PMI leadership position.

Here’s another catch-22-enabled leadership position: senior executive program manager.

“We are seeking an SEPM (senior executive program manager) to spearhead an enterprisewide, cross-jurisdictional systems integration project using contemporary web and message-oriented middleware solutions to share comprehensive data among divisions throughout the organisation.

“The SEPM, an enthusiastic, visionary, leader/change agent, will engender support for enterprisewide, multijurisdictional organisational change and establish/manage a cross-functional team implementing numerous technology projects that encompass all levels of the organisation.

“Program history: This program originally addressed the needs of a single business unit, but it evolved into a model for enterprisewide integration. It involves an enterprisewide framework of people, processes, standards and technologies focused on achieving business goals and objectives. This framework needs significant investments in business-process re-engineering and technology, requires the implementation of data and technology standards and accountabilities across the board, and calls for development of cross-functional, interdependent governance structures.

“Requirements: The successful candidate must be an excellent communicator, presenter and facilitator who can communicate information convincingly to different audiences to build a strong coalition among stakeholders and end-users.

“Benefits/salary: Nowhere near enough.”

What’s wrong with this position description? An enterprise wide business-change programme with no enterprisewide sponsorship is hopeless. There’s no highly placed, committed executive to twist the arms of reluctant business unit heads into providing the co-operation needed for success.

There’s only a champion — someone who saw potential in a small, achievable project, inflated it to enterprise proportions, but then failed to understand the extent of the organisational change.

So a highly qualified program manager to lead the charge does not exist. It’s a catch-22: the act of applying for this job automatically disqualifies the applicant.

Lewis is president of IT Catalysts, an independent US consultancy specialising in IT effectiveness and strategic alignment. Send email to Bob Lewis.

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