Written by Kevin Heisey
on May 18, 2021

Executive leadership plays a crucial role for gaining organizational buy-in at all levels in a successful transformation. When implementing change, how do you ensure buy-in from the top? Once top leaders are on board, how do you demonstrate and leverage their support throughout the organization? The following tips are great ways to gain leadership buy-in that can expedite transformation throughout your organization.

Celebrate Successes Early and Often

Leaders normally start with an abstract understanding of the rationale and potential benefits of the transformation, but some don’t fully buy-in until they start seeing tangible results. Recognizing and celebrating early positive results are great ways to get buy-in and build momentum. With leadership seeing positive outcomes and fully on board, their visible celebration of success authentically demonstrates their support to all levels of the organization and empowers teams and individuals to buy-in and pursue the new direction.

Decentralize Decision-making

A key Agile principle is the effectiveness of self-organized, autonomous teams so pushing decision-making responsibility out to the team level is part of any transformation. Decisions that are frequent, time critical and require ground-level information should be made at the ground level. This leads to expedited decision-making and delivery as operational teams are free to act rather than wait for decisions and direction. Leadership support for decentralized decision-making empowers and engages teams on the ground as they become comfortable with decision-making autonomy and facilitating change.

Set Benchmark Results

Benchmarking against previous projects and related efforts does two important things. It highlights immediate successes, and also identifies gaps and areas for improvement that are crucial in an Agile culture of continuous improvement. Demonstrating how an Agile Product Mindset works to quickly identify and address issues as they arise helps leaders see the full value of the transformation.

Schedule Time for the Unexpected

Conduct a comprehensive risk assessment and candidly communicate and accept the level of risk involved to avoid best case scenario or “happy path” planning. Momentum and buy-in can be derailed by failure to meet overly optimistic expectations. Unexpected problems will occur and assessing how likely, how often and what impact they will have is an important part of planning, managing expectations and keeping momentum for leadership buy-in.

Using Leadership Buy-in to Build Momentum

Focus on creating momentum for transformation by highlighting and celebrating successes, expanding it throughout the organization and gaining the buy-in and engagement at all levels that are key drivers in a successful transformation. Visible leadership support throughout the transformation empowers teams and individuals to embrace and facilitate change. Full leadership buy-in precedes the necessary leadership support and the best way to get it is to demonstrate the realized benefits of the transformation early and often.