The All-Important Matter of Change Sponsorship – an Interview with Karen Ferris

Effective Executive Sponsorship is essential to the success of change initiatives

More wisdom from Karen

Delegates at the itSMF Norway annual conference “Service Management with Superheroes of the World” are able to enjoy a double dose of ITSM wisdom from Karen Ferris.

In my earlier post I talked with Karen about her workshop on Stakeholder communication and its importance to the success of change and improvement initiatives.

Karen is also presenting a session on change sponsorship at the April 12-14 event at the Oslo Clarion Hotel.

The importance of Executive Sponsorship

Karen Ferris presents on change sponsorship at itSMF Norway in AprilIn her “Where are my Sponsors?” session Karen discusses the importance of executive sponsorship to the success of changes.

“We often talk about the need to have an executive sponsor and management commitment to help our improvement initiatives. But this involves much more than having one person named as a sponsor”.

Karen reminds us that “for an initiative to be truly successful we need much more than one person saying ‘yes, I support your change’”.

Cascading Sponsorship

PROSCI research shows that the greatest obstacle to success is ineffective organizational change sponsorship. Sponsorship has to cascade down through the organization.

Karen’s presentation will show the audience how to develop an effective sponsorship model, identifying who really needs to be the primary sponsor and she will describe the technique for identifying those people who need to be your supporting sponsors. Choosing these people wisely will ensure that the sponsorship does go right down through the organization to the affected groups, those people who are going to be touched by the change or the initiative.

More than an Organizational Chart

“This is much more than simply using an organizational chart, we have to look from the perspective of the employee who is going to be impacted – who do they really feel is in charge of their area? That may not be their line manager.

We need to identify the people who need to be advocates for the initiative and have sufficient capability to be an effective sponsor”.

Karen will remind us that “not only do we need to develop the sponsorship model, but we must then look at how we assess the sponsors in terms of whether they are for or against the change and, depending on the outcome, what do we need to do with them”.

Look for the Appropriate Sponsorship Capabilities

It is also important to assess whether or not the people you have identified actually have sponsorship capabilities:

  • Do they have effective communication skills?
  • Can they be visible and active on the initiative?
  • Will they be able to build a sponsorship coalition around them with other sponsors and change agents?

“When we find gaps we then look at how we can bridge them so we can ensure that we have sponsors who are on board and have the capabilities we need to help our change succeed”.

Having heard Karen speak on a number of occasions, I can assure you that you will not be disappointed in the value you will receive from this presentation. Karen offers practical advice and leaves her audience with valuable takeaways that they can apply and gain value from in their own organizations.

Kirstie Magowan

Kirstie Magowan

Kirstie Magowan is the managing editor of IT Chronicles. Kirstie is an experienced journalist and publisher who has been working in the IT Service Management industry since 1999. Kirstie is a regular speaker at industry conferences globally.