6 Stakeholders That Need to Be Committed to Your Idea

Intrapreneurs often struggle with getting their ideas firmly grounded in the organization.  The initial euphoria of a new product or service can quickly be replaced by a deafening silence.

It is natural for senior management to get excited about the project in the beginning and lose interest over time. The CEO has one perspective, sponsors have their own interest, your team another, the rest of the organization something else.  The key is making sure everyone fully understands the idea and stays committed to it.

A great idea gets better if you shape it and enhance it along the way. Often the initial idea is the starting point for an even greater idea. It is normal for the team to shape and mold the product as it evolves. By soliciting feedback from various stakeholders and acting on them, you strengthen commitment to your idea. Feedback and commitment move the idea forward.

Ideas take shape in the context of a vision. Once it takes root in the hearts and minds of others, then it takes on a life of its own. Everyone will have their own interpretation of what you mean and they will see it from their specific vantage point. Each of these views is important, not only in shaping the idea but in giving you a clear understanding of what people think it is.

As the idea evolves, so will people’s interpretation and expectation of what it is designed to do or deliver to the organization. You will want to make sure that everyone sees the same thing.

Belief in idea is what gives it life. It grounds it. If you believe in something, you have a conviction that it is true but believing in an idea does not make it true. A firm conviction will be needed to move your idea forward. If you do not believe in it, you will not convince others of its worthiness.  Belief in your idea is a key part of making it so. An idea that is grounded in belief has a longer shelf life than one that doesn’t. It buys you time to see if the idea has merit.

Getting others to believe in your idea is what is ultimately important. The more people who believe in the idea, the more momentum you will build around it. People will provide additional input that will mold and shape the idea into something bigger and better. As they do, their belief and commitment to an idea will grow.

Getting commitment and keeping it is up to you. Here are 6 stakeholders you have to convince.

  1. CEO: CEO commitment to the project only goes so far. Keeping your project alive in the CEO’s mind will depend on his or her ability to clearly and consistently understand its longer term value to the organization. Getting him or her involved in the development of the idea will be helpful, but keeping that commitment alive and strong will be up to you.
  1. Sponsor: Your sponsor will have a vested interest in keeping close tabs on your progress. Their commitment is often a reflection of what it means to them personally or professionally. Understand why this project is important to them. Make sure that you are in alignment with their interests. Their needs and yours are different.
  1. Team: The commitment of the team is grounded in something deeper. They are committed to the idea. The commitment to the idea brings them together but their own personal and professional aspirations drive them. They are looking for meaning and making a difference. They want to stretch and grow.   They see it as an opportunity to do something new and exciting. Their ongoing commitment is dependent on their ability to see the project as a vehicle to help them experience those things.
  1. Organization: Commitment from the rest of the organization is up for grabs. You will not know until you move forward. On one hand, they will have plenty of ideas about what you should do. On the other, they will be the first to dismiss the idea. Yet they can often be the ones to help you shape it into something that is more suitable for the realities of the organization and the markets it serves. Getting them to share them with you will be the best way to understand their commitment.
  1. Sales People: Get your salespeople involved from the beginning. They are on the front line and understand the customer the best. They are an excellent source of input into the idea. They are also your best critic. They have a finger on the pulse on the customer and can quickly determine if something will fly or not. They will be committed to helping you if it furthers their goals. You biggest hurdle and strongest ally will be sales. Get your support people involved because they can identify a potential issue before it arises.
  1. Customers: Internal feedback is good, but external feedback is better. Be sure that your customers are part of your feedback loop. As the product evolves, give them an opportunity to shape it as well. Feedback and commitment go hand in hand. Integrating feedback will help shape and mold the idea into something bigger and better than first envisioned. Commitment is developed by including stakeholders in the process.

Belief and commitment are a powerful force that will attract others to your idea. Doubt will do just the opposite.  Be sure that all your stakeholders are on board.

In one situation Mark, an experienced intrapreneur, was hired by a Fortune 500 company to build a brand new business for the organization.  He had met with everyone involved in the project including the EVP who was the sponsor before joining.  It was clear that there was real excitement and commitment to building this new business.  Although the initial investment fell far short of what was needed to build the business Mark realized that as the project evolved so would the investment in it.

On his first week on the job Mark had a chance to meet with the CEO who had stopped by his boss’s office.  Mark was introduced and proceeded to tell the CEO what he would be doing.  The CEO looked at Mark and quietly said, “If it ever see’s the light of day.”  Later that week word came down that only half of the initial investment would be available.  Mark hadn’t realized that the only stakeholder not on board was the CEO.

It is incumbent upon you to get and keep all stakeholders committed to your idea.

What do you do to ensure that your stakeholders stay committed to an idea?

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