As we emerge from the recession, businesses are beginning to think about spending precious cash on projects that will yield a significant return. Although I’m still seeing significant caution when it comes to “pulling the trigger” and “signing the check”; I am seeing a substantial increase in inquiries about projects that could help move the business forward.
So, why is Senior Management commitment important? The obvious answer is that without it, nothing will occur. However, it can be less clear that it sounds. Typically, Senior Leaders say they support “good-sounding” projects/ initiatives; however, they don’t support them when it comes to allocating time, money and resources.
In my experience, it appears to the people in the organization that the Senior Manager has changed his/ her mind; however, that’s rarely the case. Think about it this way: in today’s economy, what Senior Manager wouldn’t want as many projects implemented as possible which have the potential to improve the business? If there is no downside in voicing support and achieving 50% of these projects, why not?
Thus, the key to success in obtaining true Senior Management commitment is to present a full picture and obtain priorities. What’s the best path to achieve success?
1. Present in terms of results: It is common to become absorbed in bells and whistles of whatever subject matter you’re discussing. Instead of getting caught up in what seems interesting or in describing tasks, it is important to focus solely on results – business outcomes. How will this initiative affect the bottom line? What intangible benefits can be realized? Make the benefits clear. Tie them to profit, cash flow etc. Ideally, present a return on investment.
2. Focus on the pragmatic: In today’s environment, pragmatic is back in style! Is it tangible? Reasonable? Attainable? Can it be achieved within a reasonable period of time?
When businesses had excess cash (remember the days?), it was more accepted to discuss projects that were lofty in nature which seemed to move the business in the right direction. Now, these are quickly dismissed. Instead, focus on tangible improvements. Time is of the essence and resources are scarce; they cannot be wasted on potential projects that have a 20% chance of delivering pragmatic results.
3. Specify what support is needed: In today’s environment of lean resources, one of the keys to success in obtaining Senior Management commitment is to present the entire picture, including the support required (time, money, resources) to deliver your idea or project. Have you provided a picture of the project’s priority vs. other tasks/ projects?
Senior Management commitment is #1 to successfully delivering any initiative. Why not start by focusing effort there?