I was talking to a client last week who was extremely excited about launching a new product and business offering that she felt confident would drive significant revenue for her company. This product was a result of months of analysis; she and her team gathered all the relevant data that proved that the product would be successful. However, she hadn’t spent a lot of time focusing on what it would take to launch it successfully. We discussed the 3 essential elements that are at the heart of good stakeholder engagement and alignment behind any change, including:
- Defining and understanding your customer, or audience. Stepping completely into the shoes of the “buyer” is essential when launching anything new, whether it’s transformational change, a new system or a new product or service. Our team uses personas to define and understand the needs, desires and expectations of the person on the receiving end and this has been an invaluable tool for us. Personas help you define the lens for how an end customer/ user actually will receive something. Another way to think of this is to define what you need them to know and what you need them to do.
- Knowing who your stakeholders are and having a plan to manage them effectively to get people behind something new. It’s not enough to have a list of people who you want to be apprised of the latest status or can give an approval. Rather, good stakeholder engagement and management is about defining the degree of interest and influence that various people or groups can have to impact achievement of your business objectives. Do you need to manage some stakeholders closely and bring them along with the changes? Are there others with less interest in the details of what you’re doing but can cause last minute changes of direction (the stakeholder boomerang effect)? Knowing how your stakeholders fit into different categories – and having a plan to manage their engagement closely – is a critical part of the success of any launch.
- Telling a story with the right narrative to win over hearts and minds. My colleague Barbara Milhizer is a master at defining the art of how to tell a story and develop a narrative – which is a distinct challenge that is not about just “communicating”. She explains that, “Storytelling weaves a narrative that engages an audience and connects them to something beyond themselves.” How are you using a narrative to connect the buyer or end user to a bigger message? In their book, Made to Stick, Chip Heath and Dan Heath provide some timeless lessons, tips and tricks you can leverage when creating a bigger story and narrative as well.
Ultimately, a successful launch with an excellent ROI is what we’re seeking when we’re launching something new. These 3 elements require consistent focus through planning and execution and are, in my experience, essential in seeing your ventures succeed.
Sheri Browning is a Partner at PeopleResults. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @sbPResults.