How Project Leaders Can Turn Strategy into Reality
Emmanuel Tackie, PMP, PgMP, reinforces rigor, curiosity and transparency to ensure his teams deliver strategic value.
Strategic thinkers not only are able to visualize where their organizations need to be—but they also help them get there. And that’s what Emmanuel Tackie, PMP, PgMP, does for Canada healthcare provider BioScript Solutions.
When the company hired him in May 2021 as VP of strategy and acceleration, part of his mandate was to develop and execute a technical strategy that would accelerate a future-focused transformation—emphasizing expanding digital capabilities and making it easier for patients to access specialty care.
Tackie is responsible for forging strategic alignment among teams in process design functions and traditional IT operations—along with development and analytics and the project and portfolio management group.
What has been your biggest objective since starting the role—and how does that align with the company’s strategic vision?
The biggest objective overall was and is: How do we make real our vision for simplifying access to specialty care? That’s our mission; how do we make that a reality? The focus is primarily on how we enable the patient journey and support physicians, our pharma partners and the whole circle of care and the ways we leverage technology as a major component to inform those decisions and those deliverables.
How do you ensure the work of project teams aligns with the company’s strategic objectives?
From an input perspective, we implemented a new portfolio management process to manage and assess our demand and ask questions before we say “go”: Is this something that’s aligned with our organization? Is it going to bring the right value to us in the organization? And in some respects, do we have the right people to turn it on today if we want to? If we don’t, we can look outside for support if we need to.
For output, program management ensures that those benefits we have planned for are realized. We spend a lot of time asking questions, but it’s equally important for us to validate that what we expected to happen has happened. We established an entire governance model for weekly status reporting. We meet bi-weekly, but we submit the reports every week, so we remain connected. That way, everybody from the project team and the stakeholders all the way up to the managing director are shown and communicated the exact same information.
How do you strike a balance between delivering must-haves and staying aligned with strategic goals?
We put our PMO and portfolio under an acceleration lead, which is how we deliver on our roadmap. We basically said, everything they’re doing should be delivering on our roadmap. If it’s not, it’s not going to make our strategic agenda a reality. We also realized that 20 percent of the work they’re going to do is run-the-business-type projects, and we can’t just close shop to everything else because we’re working on these really strategic initiatives. There’s meaty stuff we have to deliver on, but there’s valuable stuff we have to deliver on. We spend time analyzing what that looks like and believe the 80/20 approach is a fit for now but will adjust as needed.
How do you help to bake that strategic mindset into the day-to-day decision making for project leaders?
We’re very transparent on what’s happening on programs and projects. Our culture supports that and, in some cases, thrives off that. That transparency has been part of how we’ve been able to make the right decisions. Talented people in the company see the big picture. Project leaders often look at a status report as what’s going on, what has happened, what’s going to happen and how well we’re doing. But an individual will look at that differently and say: “Here’s something to think about, here’s something that I’m hearing that will influence your project.” It’s almost as if we’re sending out this signal that says, “Can you help me with this? What do you see that I should be prepared for?”
What skills are most important for developing a strategic mindset?
Curiosity tops the list. There is also an element of grit when you’re thinking about delivering on strategy: It’s really difficult to do, and that’s why people have a hard time with it. But if you’re curious about what’s happening in your industry and what’s happening around you in your technical space, you’re going to naturally want to dive into that and get more information. You also need a growth mindset. The best people recognize that what they’re doing today can be changed, and some things should be changed. Being able to look at change as a benefit and having that growth mindset that supports it is super important for having that strategic mindset.
Is there a project or initiative that stands out?
We’ve been working to advance our digital capabilities, and despite our best efforts, there have been challenges. But that is normal and partly what makes modernizing operations difficult. That said, when I came in, I did my assessment and found we need enterprise architecture support, data strategy expertise and additional project and portfolio managers to fill the gap. Under the direction of our managing director, we met with a number of our senior leaders for a couple of sessions with the focus on defining the best bets for us to make. I’m proud that there’s such anticipation, and we believe we have the people, tools and skills to deliver on what will be a transformational journey for the company that will benefit the many patients we serve every day.
How do you turn strategy into reality?
For me, it has always been about the tangible benefits and deliverables that make strategy a reality. We looked at our strategy overall and the bets that we wanted to make and the areas where we could succeed, and we translated that into a narrative. And then it became a work breakdown structure. We refined our strategic intent into what it means from a deliverables perspective. How do we define what those important things are—and what’s the most important thing to do next? We just break that down, over and over. It’s like a pyramid—where we’re trying to go, what it looks like from the benefits perspective, what it looks like from a deliverables perspective and how we resource to actually make that a reality.