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Strategic initiatives involve the delivery of important benefits to strategic stakeholders, by definition. This article provides you with a method for identifying these important benefits. You use benefits to gain their attention and commitment.
This article’s scope is internal stakeholders. Internal stakeholders are those managers and employees inside the organization that need to “buy into” the strategy. The leader offers benefits in exchange for commitment. Consider this insight:
People contribute to the organization’s success by performing their job duties.
Applying that insight, your task is to connect benefits propositions to the answer to this question:
How does the stakeholder think about their “duty” with respect to making the organization successful?
Pride and professionalism are at the core of identity for internal stakeholders. In the face of chaotic work environments, pride and professionalism in performing their duties gives them calming reassurance. Find a person’s duties, and you can find what they think is important.
Benefits Identification and Analysis
Here are four questions that can help you discover and identify relevant benefits for any given stakeholder:
- Which of your many duties is most essential to your organization’s performance?
- How do you know you are doing a good job?
- Compared to today, what do you need to be able to do better tomorrow?
- What do you want to be different 1 year from now?
For practice, ask yourself these questions before you start interviewing other stakeholders. You will find yourself saying, “I do many things that contribute to my organization’s success, but the most important thing that I do is contribute to [the revenue stream by performing ___] or the [cost structure by performing ____].” For more on revenue streams and cost structures, see my article on business models and value propositions.
People Want to Do Their Job Better
Your goal is to use a benefits statement to get people’s attention and to motivate them to offer commitment. You want to craft specific benefits messages that will make sense to the stakeholder by reinforcing their own evaluation of what is important.Keep in mind the top benefit you offer is that you help them do their job better.
In large organizations, there might be thousands of important stakeholders, so you will have to pick out those that you believe are most important. Not surprisingly, Executives and C-Level people are natural choices for important stakeholders.
I was recently involved in a strategic initiative to increase the application of project management tools and disciplines for a global organization. I developed the following table for selected C-Level stakeholders.
Impact on Business Model
|Chief Financial Officer||To enhance organizational controls to meet bank’s expectations||Affects cost structure|
|Chief Information Officer||To deliver IT and MIS services to internal customers (users of information)||Affects cost structure|
|Manager of Treasury||To assure global management of cash||Affects cost structure|
I attempted – to the best of my ability – to understand the context of the stakeholder and to understand how each contributed to their organization’s business model. In developing this table,
I consciously avoided describing the solution and features. Why? People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!
These three stakeholders were each concerned with different aspects of the organization’s cost structure. I decided to create benefits propositions that connected cost efficiency benefits with the design of the solution (in this case, the project planning and execution system).
Each time I interacted with the three stakeholders (CFO, CIO, and Treasury Manager), I gave my elevator speech about how project management tools and principles would benefit them:
- I reinforced the CFO’s belief that project disciplines would socialize the value of consistency in planning and execution. Not only would this support his duty to provide controls, it would provide an economic benefit of eliminating the waste of poorly defined, planned, and executed projects.
- I helped the CIO understand that MIS services were delivered to his customers through projects, and that more capability would increase satisfaction as well as improve cost efficiency. I helped the Treasury Manager understand that needed improvements to the cash management system would not “just happen” by force of will, but would need a disciplined understanding of requirements matched with a project execution strategy.
How have you identified benefits desired by your internal stakeholders?
- Pillars of Strategic Initiative Success (leadingstrategicinitiatives.wordpress.com)
- Fast and Effective Decisions Drive the Strategic Initiative (leadingstrategicinitiatives.wordpress.com)
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