I recently was invited to lunch with a colleague of mine who wanted to pick my brains about an initiative he had rolled out that wasn’t quite going to plan.
He is responsible for a multi-unit business that spans the UK and he needed to ensure all of the locations were on board.
Once we got past the reality of such an endeavour and the people involved, we spoke about the four-step process once shared with me and that I have used in the past. It goes as follows:
1. Create Awareness
2. Roll it out
3. Get buy-in
4. Follow up
Now, I’m sure many people will read these and think, “perhaps a bit simple”. I agree, but it is often the simplest approaches to both small and large launches of strategies, initiatives and programmes that garner the best results.
In the case of my colleague, he seemed to do everything right from the perspective of rolling out the initiative, getting the buy-in from his constituents at all levels and was in the process of following it up, for which he had set a reasonable target of a year. Where he had erred was that he never started the process off right.
Step one of creating awareness is so much more than just telling your boss, whether a director, CEO or the board, what you want to do and what the potential outcome will be. Creating awareness sets the stage where you gather feedback, foster participative management, get to ask questions, spark ideas and most importantly seek understanding as to why you are doing it in the first place.
By not giving this step the importance it deserves, the risk is that your leaders and employees may look it as yet another make-work project or, worse yet, not understand how it truly links to your strategic plan and direction.
I have seen very senior leaders roll-out some amazing initiatives with the promise of great outputs and outcomes. In many cases they succeeded, but usually at a cost. When you properly create that awareness before your official roll-out, you immediately have a whole army of supporters behind you.
In the majority of cases, you get this because in creating awareness of the initiative and how it ties into your long-term plans, you build champions. Their input makes them part of the plan and ensures you have the best chances of success when you start the initiative, holding everyone accountable.
This differs from getting buy-in, as this relates to actual operationalisation. By this point, you are putting your plan into place and what happens ‘on the floor’ is directly related to the success of the plan as realised in the roll-out.
Here the need to ensure understanding is even more important. Therefore, those champions who were involved in the beginning and helped you realise challenges and successes will be able to answer questions the operations may have, leading to greater success.
So, creating awareness and how you start, however ‘simple’ is sounds, is paramount to sustainable success.
Eugenio Pirri is VP, people and OD, Dorchester Collection