How often do we hear about the importance of executive sponsorship in obtaining user buy-in for tech implementations?
Let's see... More times than we can count. Here is Transformation+Innovation's Nathaniel Palmer talking about it in a recent IT Business Edge interview:
...all of this succeeds on the basis of making some fundamental changes in organizational practices. ... That's something that is highly politically charged; I've never seen an organization that had a real propensity for change. At some point or another, even if a process begins with momentum, you're going to run into resistance. Having top-level sponsorship is critical to overcome that.
But what if executives aren't all that engaged?
That's a problem in its own right, says blogger Oren Harari. He points out that he's heard rank-and-file workers ask how to get management on board with organizational initiatives (tech or otherwise) just as often as he's had management pose the buy-in question about their employees.
Employees want to see management back their words up with action, says Harari. And he's not the only one who thinks so. After surveying more than 1,000 executives and project managers, Vital Smarts and The Concours Group came up with the five biggest barriers to project success -- one of which is "sponsors who are not actively engaged."
An actively engaged sponsor should be able to address at least some of the other barriers -- such as people who do not participate in the priority-setting process and team leaders who do not acknowledge problems -- before they become insurmountable.
So is it fair for executives to ask how to get employees on board with tech (or other) initiatives? Sure, says Harari. But first they must make sure that they are on board themselves -- and backing up their sponsorship with more than lip service.