August 2013

Project Implementation: How to Create Ownership

This is where you are, but… THIS is where you WANT to be…
  • An “us versus them” culture has been created and will not relent.
  1. People grasp the issues.
  2. Individuals and departments are aligned around a common purpose.
  3. People understand both the difficulties and the opportunities inherent in change.
  4. Goal-oriented, positive atmosphere and attitudes are measurably increased.
  • Communication and conflict resolution are poor and steadily getting worse.
  • Vital information is being withheld or hidden as a means of control.
  1. Capacity for future change increases.
  2. People develop the skills and processes to meet not just the current challenges, but the future challenges, as well.
  • The strategic plan, project plan or merger outline is clear, but implementing it is proving more difficult than expected
  1. Involving stakeholders ensures their input and buy-in early in the process.
  • Production schedules and timelines are being missed.
  1. Enhanced stakeholder involvement translates into diversity of ideas.
  2. Bottom line results are measurably improved.
  3. People articulate personal and departmental buy-in to organizational goals, objectives, and specific timelines.
  • People are nodding in agreement, but silently fighting the changes and direction.
  1. Collaboration with internal and external stakeholders builds cohesive and profitable partnerships.
  • Frustration and stress are increasing.
  1. Improved communication translates to less frustration.

Participative Management

My experience with successful organizations has led me to focus on the dynamic tension between leaders’ ownership of the strategies for change and their key stakeholders’ acceptance and buy-in of the plan. (Key stakeholders here are those who are crucial to the successful implementation of the desired change.) Often, there is a dynamic gap between these two entities that must be bridged successfully if the desired change is to proceed effectively.

The process I recommend can be used with internal and/or external stakeholders, as well as for regular feedback on many topics from strategic planning to mergers and change management.

In reality there are eight parallel process steps necessary to bridge the gap between those who lead change and those who implement it. Any mis-step or short cut will inevitably lead to breakdowns later in the process and require extensive duplication of work and a slowing of the project. Briefly, I will describe how vitally important real-time meetings held with leadership and key stakeholders prove to be an integral step in this process. For a more in-depth explanation on this process and how we may partner on your implementation project, please contact

The purpose of real-time meetings is twofold:

  1. to share information and provide feedback to the core leadership team in order to troubleshoot and improve the plans, and
  2. to gain understanding, acceptance (i.e., buy-in), and commitment to the overall direction and implementation of the plan.

One important factor to remember is: people support what they help create. Thus, it is crucial to involve key stakeholders early on in the planning and change process. If this crucial step is omitted or briefly touched on, long term organizational outcomes will pay the price. Poor stakeholder motivation or ambivalence later on is an expensive problem to fix. It is much more effective to alter a plan before it is put into place, rather than try to turn back time and re-work a process mid-stream.

Successful leaders plan ahead for their organizations strategic and human change needs. Even though change is inevitable, in order to be efficient and effective, managing successful change takes preparation and planning. Simply put: investing in and creating buy-in and ownership at all levels pays off.