Executive 'sleepership'

Strong executive sponsorship is a practical necessity for achieving successful IT projects. But what about those so-called sponsors who fail to engage and follow through on the responsibilities of their role?

Executive Â’sleepershipÂ’

Strong executive sponsorship is a practical necessity for achieving successful IT projects. But what about those so-called sponsors who fail to engage and follow through on the responsibilities of their role?

Talking about these "executive sleepers," CIO magazine blogger, Laurie M. Orlov, says this:

But trumping all of these [causes of failure], in my view, is the go-to-sleep attitude of enterprise executives (maybe even including the CIO) as these projects proceed. By going to sleep about their sponsorship and energy investment, only to wake up after prolonged elapsed time, the project became IT’s responsibility -- and perceived inadequacies clearly are IT’s fault. Now the money is spent and the result is either so inadequate as to be a total write-off, or it is cancelled before any benefit can be realized, or frustration results in intense company in-fighting and even termination of jobs.

Laurie argues the CIO is ultimately responsible for ensuring the success of IT investments, which includes lining up quality sponsorship:

And CIOs who let business executives off the responsibility and oversight hook, if they let them send underlings to meetings, if they provide a status and get no feedback, if the scope of deliverables is intergallactic, if development is not iterative, that's exactly what they are aiding and abetting. Their own project failure and a waste of the enterprise's money. And that scenario, sadly, really is their own fault.

In an interview on related topics, consultant Andrew Shimberg told me:

Lack of sponsorship generally arises from two causes: the appropriate executives have no time, or the sponsor has not assumed full accountability for his or her role.

The traditional, above the waterline, solution is educating sponsors regarding their project responsibilities, addressing specifics of their project role, and defining expectations around that role.

Below the waterline, the solution again involves creating an environment where the team feels comfortable speaking up. In addition, the team must be taught how to voice its concerns in an appropriate and constructive manner. These skills can be taught and learned.

A strong sponsor can make the difference between IT success and failure. Encourage your CIO to coach executives and also create a "sponsorship culture" inside the organization.

[Image via MailOnline]

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