“Live” prototying/proof of concepts

It has been a busy few weeks here at MJN as we get the transition to stand-alone rolling. Like many large programs, our main transformation initiative — Sunrise (nice name, eh?) — sometimes acts as if it were the first program of any importance ever executed. Its size and stature also obscure other major initiatives.

We have been, however, executing global HR and LIMS (laboratory information mgmt system) implementations all along. One of the ways we keep these programs spotlighted is to communicate lessons learned from these global projects. One of our Global LIMS leaders — Brent Endsley — yesterday went through lessons learned from a pilot he lead in our Nijmegen plant.

Brent highlighted a concept — the “live” pilot — that I hadn’t seen before. We used the new Global LIMS prototype with [relatively] real data in parallel with real production systems and work — in essence the team brought a conference room pilot to the plant floor. While I’ve seen parallel work in testing and controlled go-lives, synching live and prototype systems struck me as particularly clever and effective.

Pitfalls when upgrading an existing PMO

Once of the temptations when taking over a new organization is to apply the lessons of the past.  I characterize it as a temptation, because simply taking what worked before as the template for the future sure saves a lot of thought and planning.   But does it work?

Applying the SAP global PMO template to Mead Johnson would have meant implementing an extensive training regimen, installing a new PMIS, and building out a new set of PM processes and methodologies.  While I would have had a great game plan to execute that approach,  MJN doesn’t need to improve many of the capabilities that this plan would have provided or augmented. 

For example, as the sole source of nutrition for infants, Mead Johnson’s products are regulated by the FDA.  MJN has extensive SDLC and other process documentation already in place.  We also have a perfectly fine project management framework that we can leverage from our pre-IPO parent (and majority stakeholder) Bristol-Myers Squibb.  What would be the value in pushing a new methodology into a company that already had a perfectly serviceable set of artifacts? 

Very little.  In fact, pushing something new would have ruined my credibility.  We already have a strong culture of documentation and compliance here, which is the most cherished outcomeof a methodology initiative.   Change for change’s sake is not a winning approach to such a culture.

Why I moved to Mead Johnson — macro positives

As promised, I’d like to outline some of the reasons why I moved to Mead Johnson.   There are several big picture or macro reasons why the move appealed to me:

  • Engagement in standing up an “new” company.  MJN just had an IPO as a carve out of Bristol Myers Squibb.  While I’ve had a bit of experience integrating acquisitions, I’ve not been part of a divestiture.  Ironically, many of the activities are quite similar, especially the process and application rationalization work on the IM side.
  • Mead Johnson’s strategy:  When you look at our vision, it is explicitly a premium strategy — “Our vision is to be the world’s premier pediatric nutrition company. “  There is a real research, quality, and product differentiation between the MJN brands and everyone else.
  • Mead Johnson’s growth prospects:  What surprised me most about MJN was how much growth there is in the pediatric nutrition market.  In particular, there are great prospects globally.  We’re already rolling in China and India is on the horizon.

How I found Mead Johnson and my new role…

I wasn’t particularly looking to leave SAP when the Mead Johnson opportunity came across my desk. In fact, it didn’t come across my desk. I was researching another opportunity that had been presented by a recruiter.  Lo and behold, my Googling turned up an intriguing posting for a Global PMO role that was more than the typical PMO role.  I sent my CV across the transom and voila…I was on the short list. 

As you all probably know, getting a senior role via a blind submission is a Black Swan event, but it was far from random.  Therefore, I need to send kudos to my partners in finding and securing this role.

  • First, Wendy Haylett at http://www.career-resumes.com crafted an outstanding CV.  The recruiter told me that he received hundreds of resumes and CVs. As you might imagine, his firm used analysis software to cull resumes.  Mine rose to the absolute top thanks to Wendy.
  • And said recruiter — Jeff Schwartzman at LagunaSource — was perhaps the best executive search professional I’ve ever worked with.   Jeff did a great job of keeping me in the loop, characterized the opportunity and its level appropriately, and gave me excellent advice and counsel about how to position myself most effectively.

I’ll have more to say about the “macro”, career, and personal reasons for my decision.

Last Day at SAP

It is hard to believe that this day has come…but it has.   Monday, 15 June is my last day at SAP. 

I will join Mead Johnson — www.mjn.com — a pediatric nutrition company that was recently carved out of Bristol Myers Squibb.  One of my first areas of focus will be the portfolio of activities required to execute Mead Johnson’s transition into a fully-independent public company.

While my new role will not be SAP-centric, my new company uses SAP solutions as the backbone of its business technology strategy. That means I won’t be far from the SAP ecosystem, so I’m sure that I’ll run into some of you before too long.

I’ve kept Crossderry quiet while I completed my last transition activities at SAP.  However, I plan to start posting again shortly.

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