I have written and been quoted many times about readiness. However understanding readiness and using the concept in my consulting practice has been my most important lesson for my consulting practice. The simple statement is that people will only do what they are ready to do. That statement applies to both consultants as well as client personnel. The real challenge is applying the idea to make one a more effective consultant. An example might help. Often the IT group in an organization wanted to give new and better systems, better inventory management for example. However the people who manage the inventory are reluctant. The IT director tries to explain just in time inventory and the organization reluctantly agrees to "try" a new system. One can predict that this project will fail. I have seen so many of these great ideas suggested by consultants and IT directors fail because of a lack of readiness.
To effect major change in an organization, the management group must be ready and willing to sponsor and support the change. I always look for the quality of management support for a change to assess the success of an initiative.
If for example the responsibility for scope and budget are split between two executives. The only hope for the project is that their boss really wants the project to be successful and does not give them a place to hide. I think using a rapid results approach will reveal problems with such a project before all the budget has been spent without anything to show for all the money.
How many times have we seen these type of projects where the organization is willing to go through the motions, without the ability to change. As the song goes, "when will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?"