Whew. I’m about pooped out. As we try to get the final touches on Kumquat, I’m also kicking off a consulting project for a client in which I’m emotionally invested. Exciting things are afoot, but it feels like there are quite a few plates spinning.
It’s amazing to me how much effort goes into getting something started, getting something spinning. Getting a new idea, or project off the ground and out of the gates takes work. More than you expect, if you are doing it right. And a heck of a lot more than your client (manager) may have been expecting.
Your task as a project leader or idea champion is to make the case and incite a riot. Get people wound up and on-board with your initiative. If they aren’t swilling the Kool-Aid (and filling up cups for others), your work is far from done.
I feel like I’m on the right track when:
- I feel like a broken record, telling the same fundamental story over and over;
- I am refining my call-to-action for different audiences, but always with the same point;
- You are growing tired of your own gantt charts;
- I overhear conversations in hallways where our cause is being championed;
- I see ownership up and down the chain of command; and
- The future is so clear that I can’t imagine the world any other way.
Your project sponsor and team should also be ticking off bullets on this list. Building momentum isn’t a single evangelist going room-to-room grubbing for support, but an entire gospel choir singing the praises of the world to come.
Most folks engaged in project-based work talk about clear project sponsorship, or the clear ownership of the project by an executive with enough umpha to get the project over hurdles, and influence (or bend arms) when times get tough or the effort feels a bit drawn out.
I see an executive sponsor as an advocate and protector (ground cover if you will), but also someone that creates the opportunity for momentum to be built within the organization.
Momentum doesn’t build from the top-down – it is a bottoms-up phenomenon.
The excitement has to emanate from the front-lines people engaged in the work, not the managers looking at summary statistics. The message should be infectious, or at least sounded by the infected. Sure, the end goal is to see change in a macro way, but this has to happen in so many little steps along the way. Change isn’t a single giant leap forward, it is the many incremental steps between where we are and where we want to be.
- What does a successful project/change “choir” sound like in your experience?
- Do you see the project sponsor as the solo act, the conductor, or the guy at the mixing board keeping it balanced?
- Where do you see successful project managers or idea champions in this analogy?