“No sponsor? Are you kidding me?”

Normally I write this newsletter for executives. This week, my assumption is that you who are reading this are not an executive in your organization and you have recently been tasked to implement a change for which there is weak, or worse, no sponsorship.

Study after study say that lack of active and visible sponsorship is the number one cause of project failure. My experience working with dozens of organizations is similar. Yet even as a consultant, I’ve driven change without having an executive sponsor, so I know it’s possible.

Note – this is not for the faint of heart. Be prepared for long hours, elongated timelines and lots of frustration. But it’s possible. I offer an approach here:

  1. First, be crystal clear on the outcomes. Corporate has just handed down a policy or process change you must implement, but you have no support. Having complete clarity on what this means to you and your team is the critical first step.
  2. Identify the value. Why, why, why? Why is it necessary to do what you’ve been asked to do? How will this improve sales, customer satisfaction, productivity, or other end metrics?
  3. Build a coalition. Based on the nature of the change, you’ll be able to determine who needs to be involved to help make this change happen. Map it out. Identify what you’ll need from each of them. Bring them together. Discuss the impacts. Collectively determine how they can fulfill the work to achieve the change.
  4. Influence your coalition to act. Influence them some more. Then influence them even more. Influence. Ask questions. Don’t advocate. Ask. Influence. When you are done, influence more.
  5. Show progress. Give your coalition, and impacted employees, an opportunity to see and celebrate progress. Even if it is miniscule. What might seem inconsequential to you may not be to them.
  6. Celebrate success. Cake. Ice cream. Hot dogs or caviar. Whatever. Make it fun and defer the success to them. Give them all the credit. All of it.

Can I guarantee your success? No. But if you follow these steps, you’ll increase the probability that you’ll be smiling at the end, and you will develop your leadership skills in the process.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,

Steve

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