Delivering better results: Assured Outcome Delivery

Steve Dickie discusses Assured Outcome Delivery and how it can help interim managers achieve better results for their clients.

What is AOD and how did it come about?

Assured Outcome Delivery(TM), or AOD, is a proven board-level and programme-level approach and toolset developed to address why change programmes fail to deliver predicted benefits. It is a way of achieving exactly what it says and it is successful because it challenges traditional thinking.

The Outcome Delivery Network Partners (one of whom is the author of D4, whose successful delivery provenance goes back 20 years) created AOD because too often in our long experience with Big 4 and other firms, we found that clients and consultants alike always said they knew why change delivery was sub-optimal, yet, they chose to implement the same, fundamentally flawed approaches to try and deliver change projects they had always used.

So we worked together for a decade using D4 as an approach to deliver successful change in the Isochron Group (sharing it successfully with big firms like PwC and Serco) before updating our thinking and experience in implementing change to build in new ideas and strengthen the approach with other tools and techniques into an overarching framework for interims, consultants and organisations to use to increase their ability to deliver the benefits desired from investment, more reliably.

We have now been using AOD for five years and are pleased to say every client who has used it has provided glowing testimonies on its innovations and successes.  

Video: Intro to AOD

How does it differ from other project management methodologies out there?

First, AOD does not assert itself to be superior to other approaches, rather we want it to be recognised as a range of ideas that can complement, and strengthen, other methodologies. The principle innovations in AOD are intellectually simple, and should happen BEFORE projects and programmes start in earnest.

If ‘everyone’ knows why change initiatives have failed in the past – and most clients and colleagues sagely  profess they do – we challenge them and ask if they will be brave enough to take time and try a different approach.   We ask them if they will try our Assured Outcome Delivery approach  and commit:

  • enough senior time to Prepare Better  & Lead Brilliantly before starting significant investment?
  • to use AOD innovations to strengthen their traditional governance  and project or programme delivery approaches?
  • to make change happen or allow it to fail?  (because this is actually their choice!)

Second, we then provide four relatively simple spreadsheet based tools to use (not a massive handbook like Prince or MSP) before committing to significant investment:

  • a way to articulate clearly what outcomes sponsors want from their investment in a single table (we call it a Show-Me Event table) that aids communication and establishes accountability, unequivocally.
  • a lean approach to planning, working backwards from successful outcomes (we call it right to left planning) which we found reduces overall durations by at least 25%.
  • a way to evaluate benefits which is stronger than traditional  three or four point estimating (we call it bias-free estimating) that includes processes for an assessment of past experience and removing double counting.  We use this to create a CashPoint table which enables senior challenge for, and ownership of, benefits desired from investment.
  • a way to link desired outcomes directly to benefits, thereby understanding, and being able to articulate simply, the true value of risk and the cost of delays (in decisions or progress slippage).  We call this our RoI Connect Table.

Finally, we use innovative analytical tools to capture learning from the experience of all those involved in projects and programmes comparing their lessons with the great ideas of recognised experts.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could learn, from the lessons we all know? And then decide to change our approach to avoid those change mistakes?


How can AOD help interim managers?

In a number of ways. For experienced interim practitioners, AOD familiarity creates a dialogue clients should be focused on – how to maximise the benefits they get back from investing in the resources needed for projects and programmes.

Basically, we use AOD and its innovations help us have the right conversations on how to maximise their Return on Interim expenditure.

We think it is essential to be able to evaluate what benefits are available to be delivered by an interim. One of our innovations in AOD  is our concept of Value Drivers. These are individual levers that effect organisations’ cash flows by either Increasing Revenue, Reducing Cost or Increasing Asset Value.

Instead of using the ‘usual’ list of business case savings  - somewhere between 5 and 15 savings headings is normal in our experience of business cases we review – would it not make interims who use AOD look impressive if they had access to, and used, a list of 103 generic Value Drivers which are tailored for each client and sector.

AOD has techniques to help interims co-develop these value drivers with the Finance Director in creating a scope for financial benefits which usually surprises them – because there are so many ways to deliver benefits if we take the time to work at it –  and so AOD easily gets the FD interested in supporting and sponsoring our benefit-focused programme delivery efforts.

For any interim, AOD can provide a way to challenge their own experience and enhance their skillset and then, with confidence in the approach, engage senior clients in change leadership discussions which we find have taken all of our ODN team ‘up the value tree’ in both terms of seniority of access and  fee revenue earned.

Keep me updated


And what is the benefit to the end client?

Using AOD offers Clients a number of benefits. Fundamentally, clients can be more confident that the benefits upon which their investment are ‘justified’ will actually be  delivered, on schedule.

AOD has training tailored for the different change roles of board members and leaders, senior staff or officers and all those involved in programmes in how to deliver change differently and, as a result more successfully.

The training focuses on change leadership, accountability and performance management as well as new ‘how-to’ guides in change  and AOD can help clients at all levels to lead and work differently, and deliver benefits more consistently.

We are pleased to report we found that AOD always manages to find more benefits than business cases developed by traditional thinking.  For a FTSE 250 organisation we used AOD to identify 37% more benefits than the traditionally developed business case for investing in change.


What's the best way to find out if AOD could be useful for me?

1) Watch this video:

Intro to AOD

2) Sign up to receive more information about our upcoming webinar on Thursday 12 July 2018:

Keep me updated

If you want to know more of why AOD just works, check out this paper on the science behind it.

If you need more convincing, request some of the case studies.

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