Question: Strategies for stakeholder engagement in a new project

When going into a new project, it takes time to get total involvement across all business functions and key stakeholders. This slows down the initial progress significantly.

It will be great to hear from experts on what they have used that works!

6 Expert Insights

Simply pose the question to ALL the stakeholders involved... "How can we speed up the process of getting total involvement for all stakeholders so it doesn't slow down vital progress on our new projects?"

While there may be some "tried and true" methods that others will propose, I'm a proponent of the people experiencing the challenge being the generators of the solution.

What happens then is that they "own" vs. feel like they're having to comply with an artificially imposed solution from, the outside. This creates much less resistance to implementation of any solution that is self/ system generated.

In addition, it creates longer term sustainability of the solution because it's organic to the system employing it, and if any changes appear to be needed they can then be created and implement with congruence.

These days, organizations seem to find it easy to Start a great many projects, but finishing on time is another matter. One reason is that the key people you want on Your project are also in demand on other projects, or simply consumed with doing their regular assignments.

While it is important to get engagement and buy-in from team members themselves, it is also essential to ensure the right amount of executive buy-in. And to get that, it's a good idea to know if and how the project connects to strategy, how important it is. Navigating the world of power and politics is extremely distasteful to many. But in most organizations, especially large ones, the best assurance that a multi-department project will get the human and financial resources it requires is to have strong support from the top.

I have used a Kotter-esque approach that works very well. In one case, the change was a new CEO and a new organizational strategy. The organization was quite large, so we structured a series of explorations aimed at getting the employees to have a chance to discuss and participate in simply understanding the vision and the case for action. Leaders were trained as facilitators, and employees attended working sessions. During the sessions, they built their own set of questions, challenges and opportunities which were collected and shared with executive leadership. The communication strategy was then set around the feedback, giving them an opportunity to see what happened to their input.

These give-and-take sessions were continued throughout the initial phases of the change process and did an exceptional job in engaging the workforce. As Mike says, the hard part is sustaining the change. That requires a candid look at systems and processes that stand as obstacles to the necessary behavior changes. Having the workforce explain where these obstacles are, and then addressing them, provides continued opportunities to engage everyone, but most importantly, aligns the strategy to the work processes and culture.

This deep change is not for the faint of heart, and requires courageous and committed leadership. It is also not a quick fix, although, in my experience, it has a far more lasting impact than quick fixes.

This is very simple - people support what they help create.  Get poeple involved early, and the project goes much smoothly.

As the saying goes, "You can pay now, or pay later.  Your choice."

1) Establish a project leadership team consisting of those leaders (cross boundary) with the expertise, authority, information, access to resources and with formal/informal connections into key stakeholder groups that can make/break the design and/or implementation; 2) Once the overall project is mapped, widen the circle to involve managers and employees who can add expertise/info, who have a stake in the outcomes and who are important to successful execution; 3) hold one-to-several large group meetings to involve those further down and across the organization to either fine tune the strategy and/or create the implementation plan -- resulting in ACTION (versus ideas).  4) Establish infrastructure for communication, coordination, efficient decision-making and tracking progress against metrics.  Create, publicize and celebrate early wins.

For more info, please feel invited to explore:

First, may I stand on the shoulders of others?
All responses listed here: Great stuff! Couple quick insights I'd share beyond those already listed...

I learned this years ago from the head of leadership development, Bank of America.
1) Help the CXO (whomever is in charge of the change efforts) craft the communication plan that's supposed to
help OTHERS change.
2) Have a behind the scenes, one-on-one coaching session, discussed as a simple brainstorming session (The Trojan Horse):
"So, if those are the actions we're expecting of others, what do you think your team has to have in place to ensure their success?" (Worded as you feel is best for that person)
It's amazing how many leaders, once they start communicating specific changes to others, when approached in this manner, suddenly realize what they should have or need to put in place for others to succeed!!

Everyone is ADD!!!!!!
All communications:
Face2Face: Must get the main points across in 3-5 MINUTES, or less
Electronic: Must get the main points across in 3-5 SECONDS