I know that we all are inclined to see senior management as “out-of-touch” reactionaries, rather than potential allies. Don’t get stuck on that thought please. Their support is the main objective of our endeavor. Arrogant? Sometimes. Ignorant? Often. But that doesn’t make them incapable of being redeemed. You must find a way to help them see what you see, to learn what you have learned and to feel that same sense of urgency and inevitability that you feel.
So have you identified your targets? I found mine in a couple of different spots; high up in the organization that was responsible for networks, procurement people, some staff of the CIO, and staff in the CFO’s office. My next step and yours too, is to understand them. You need to understand what pressures they feel, from Wall Street, from customers, from the competition. You need to find out what is top on their agenda, what objectives they have set for themselves and for the company. I found a few folks that were searching for help and ideas. That is what got my initiative going. Based upon many conversations, lunches, dinners, etc with these folks I learned that I would have to bend my objectives a little to fit their goals. What these folks saw was a way to use my passion and the heat that it was throwing off to thaw out the middle of the organizations to make change happen. The middle is always the place that is feeling threatened by a new order of things. The middle of an organization can hold out a long time against the lecturing of an isolated and embattled executive. But it’s much more difficult for them to hold out when they are caught in the middle of a reform-minded executive and committed and revolutionary crowd.
I found the people that the C-level folks respected and relied upon. I invited these people to meetings, lunches, added them to my email distribution lists, and even did demo and whiteboard sessions with them. I made a note of every occasion and event they would be attending so that I could get a chance to directly influence them. I attended every meeting, conference that I could and I used my network of folks to help get me on the agenda so that I could make short, quick hits that would entice and intrigue them. I thought of these targets and the high-profile events as strategic points that I could use to “infect” others. They were opportunities to educate, entertain and enroll. To a revolutionary the whole company was a stage. Every event was an opportunity to advance my Point of View. Every impromptu meetings, hallway conversation was a chance to win another member for my network.
I can tell you though that eventually you will have to go one-on-one with your target(s). Pick that moment carefully. Wait for the “stars to align” and the groundswell to reach that critical mass. You want to reach your target right when they are searching for a new idea. I found mine at Citrix Partner Summit where my high priority target was meeting with other executives. This venue added more credibility and urgency to my case.
One last bit of advice on this section. Always have your elevator pitch ready. Know what you want to ask for – keep it small and simple. Make it very easy to yes.
In the next section, my history “buff-ness” will come back. I want to share with you how to play more politics to get things going your way. Stay tuned….this is going to get interesting