I recently read one of those elaborate corporate leadership books that was trying to boil down 300 pages of common sense into one list of 10 inspiring points. If you are like me, many of the business books you read either oversimplify a very complex problem, or attempt to restate the obvious in new jargon.
However, I did come across a gem that has resonance in sourcing change management: small numbers, also known as the sponsoring or sourcing team, make fairly significant business model decisions, and expect a broad range of stakeholders to (cheerfully?) execute.
Absolutely true—corporate decision making cannot not scale to the extent that everyone affected has a seat at the table. It’s completely impractical. But expecting business lines, enabling functions, process owners, and all those employees affected both up and downstream to just execute like automatons is more than a bit on the naïve side.
Over the course of any sourcing implementation, challenges will inevitably crop up. However, starting off on the right foot with the large numbers is critical—there are no second chances to make a first impression. Here are three imperatives for putting best feet forward with the masses:
Kick off formally
Don’t keep them in the dark because it’s easier for the small team to manage. As soon as the strategy is agreed, and the implementation plan is clear, bring the large numbers into the fold in a respectful, orderly fashion. The gossip is already out there; trumping the water cooler gossip with fact puts the change on your footing. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan, noted American statesman, said, “everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own set of facts.”
Understand that it’s imperative to market the change at announcement, not just send out a perfunctory email. Most will understand the base rationale for a change in operating model, but not automatically embrace the implications for themselves, their teams and their business. That’s where marketing comes in. Most stakeholders want to be sold on an idea, even if the mandate comes down from on high. They demand the respect of having the who/where/what/when and why presented to them formally through media they are accustomed to. Once this hurdle is crossed, they can start exploring the personal implications of the change.
Ensure that you’ve convinced key individuals of the imperative for sourcing change in advance, or immediately upon announcement, and planted them across the landscape of affected functions and customers. Stakeholders emulate the behaviors of those whom they respect and wish to be like, so mapping key influencers and getting them on board with the rationale is a precondition to change management success.