VOICES Peer to Peer
When the executive suite approves a project that will create major
change, here’s how to handle the stakeholders who matter most.
Compare the importance of having buy-in
from below to having executive-level buy-in.
I could see why people might think
that buy-in from the executive level
is more important, because it’s difficult to build buy-in from
below without buy-in from above. But in truth, they’re both
equally important to a project’s success.
Gustavo Pastrana, PMP:
I agree. Here’s a good example: When
I was the project manager on the con-
struction of a healthcare facility, we implemented mock-
up rooms so the medical staff could experience how the
new facility would look and feel in critical rooms, such as
maternity or intensive care, and the staff provided feed-
back to the architects.
I’ll never forget when an older nurse, who didn’t seem
interested in implementing change, came up to me with this
huge smile in the middle of the project.
Tom Sparrow, PMP:
was the second-most
critical project success
factor cited by practitioners
in the PMI 2013 Pulse of the
She said, “The architects have come back
time and time again, demonstrating with the
new drawings that they are actually listening to our suggestions.” Getting buy-in from
internal end users ensures we’re meeting
their clinical needs and requirements—and
the project might not have been as successful
without that buy-in.
PMP, is the deputy
director of the
office at insurance
Mexico City, Mexico.
What’s at risk when project managers
don’t rely on change management
They end up with an end
product that is not sustainable.
People generally won’t accept the end product,
and a new project will need to be planned much
sooner than it should be.
Tom Sparrow, PMP,
is the chief project
officer at the North
Island Health Authority, Comox, British
Not using change management
techniques is a big career risk to
the project manager, too. That person could be seen
as someone who gets things done, which is certainly
a good thing, but one who doesn’t inspire others
or work to align stakeholders with the organization
and its projects.
Why would project managers not use
change management techniques, then?
They might think they are using
the techniques. Sometimes
interpersonal skills are viewed as formal change
management techniques, but this is wrong.
Interpersonal skills are soft skills and involve tasks
like inviting someone to lunch to reach an informal
agreement. That’s just persuasion when compared
to change management techniques, which are based
on surveys, analysis and tools. PM