Part I: Obtaining Executive Support for Your Initiative
Obtaining leadership buy-in is essential to move forward any major project or initiative forward.Whether obtaining needed resources or changing workplace culture, leadership support is critical when venturing into new territory or making significant changes.But how do you get that support?
Align with organization priorities (what does the executive want)
Take time to review your organization's priorities, strategy and company-wide initiatives.What challenges is the organization facing today? Attend town halls and talk to leaders to keep abreast on these challenges. Your project must align to the organization's goals and objectives, and provide a way to solve current challenges. Retool your project as necessary to keep your project aligned to executive priorities.
How this project contributes to organization (business case)
Demonstrate how your initiative or project will contribute to the organization's goals. If you have written a white paper to explain a business case, be sure to distill this into a one page summary.Executives are always pressed for time, and are unlikely to read a lengthy paper.Hit only the highlights with you summary, and your white paper can cover more detailed material if it is needed.You should strive to answer the following questions:
- Rationale – why you are looking at this?
- Value proposition – what's the value for the organization?
- Alternatives – could the same value be realized by some other means?
- Cost – what it is going to cost in terms of money, resources, and people?
- Delivery – how it is going to be delivered and is it doable, what is the approach and risks?
- Time – how long will it take to realize a benefit?
- Accountability – who is accountable for the project such as sponsors, term committee, project manager, etc?
- Controls – how will you measure progress?
Use time wisely (present effectively)
To ensure you deliver an effective message to the leaders, adjust the presentation to be short, to the point and focus on three to five key benefits. Organizational leaders are short on time and do not want to hear the backstory or technical details, if they need that information they will ask for it.
A half-baked idea won't hold the attention of your executives, so you need to ensure it holds up to questioning and closer scrutiny. Consider the resources and budget required and how long you expect the project to take. Be ready to answer specifically what support you need from your executives.
Make reasonable asks
Executives are constantly balancing conflicting priorities in terms of resources and time.The larger your request for resources, the more likely it will not be acted upon. Be prepared to start small. From there, you can build upon success. Focus on three to five quick wins, prove value and move up to the next phase.
Make it public
Once you have the support of leadership, make it public - this will help to drive the initiative forward and get other stakeholders on board.Act like your project is going to be successful to continue building consensus and support.