Building sponsorship with key stakeholders at all levels of the organization is an essential part of implementing and sustaining key initiatives.Building sponsorship increases the odds for success and reduces the odds of failure. Despite good intentions, many best efforts often lead to bad results. (Please see last month’s article, Avoiding Flavor-of-the-Month Syndrome.) The good news is that there are several proven methods of building sponsorship that foster the implementation process and help sustain long-term desired results.
Let’s contrast some of the more common characteristics of failed and successful initiatives.
Characteristics of failed initiatives
- Desired outcomes are not clearly defined and communicated to key stakeholders and affected employees.
- Allotted time and other resources are insufficient to implement and sustain the initiative for the long term.
- There is no linkage to key business drivers, and measurements of success are vague or completely undefined.
- Those championing the initiative lack trust and credibility within the organization.
- There is no clear and consistent communication process, and the initiative gradually loses momentum.
- Unrealistic expectations or exaggerated outcomes create skepticism among those affected by the initiative.
Characteristics of successful initiatives
- Desired outcomes are clearly defined and communicated, not only to key stakeholders but to all employees who will be affected by the initiative.
- Budget parameters are predetermined and expenses are closely monitored and maintained within limits.
- Clear and compelling linkages to the business drivers are established and agreed upon by all key stakeholders.
- Milestones are established, and progress is reported regularly to key stakeholders and other sponsors.
- Champions are credible and trustworthy throughout all levels of the organization.
- Communication systems are established, and there is clear and consistent messaging at all levels of the organization.
- Desired outcomes are realistic and attainable. Successes as well as setbacks are reported along with corrective action plans to get the initiative back on course.
Investing the necessary time to identify and build sponsorship is part of “Doing Things Right the First Time.” It is also a characteristic of experienced champions who have track records of successfully implementing and sustaining important organizational initiatives.