I’ve been preparing to co-present with the amazing @Jenni_saville at the forthcoming Lean HE conference on “A sponsor’s experience of implementing change”. This has got me thinking about what qualities I look for in a Project Sponsor.
First of all, why does the Process Improvement Unit (PIU) insist on a sponsor when we start a new project?
The Sponsor is a senior person who authorizes the project and ensures staff are available for project activities. Usually based in the department that owns the process and must support the requirement for improvement and provide guidance and backing as and when problems arise. The role included ensuring that scope is strategically aligned and appropriate as well as giving the project team authority to make the changes.
Qualities and attributes of a strong sponsor:
· Holds a senior role in the Institution with authority to set scope and project team membership
· Has an interest in the process improvement project
· Clarity about scope of the project (and willing to challenge scope creep)
· Has sufficient strategic knowledge to champion and/or close a project as appropriate.
· Take an active interest in project progress
· Make time to hear about project progress updates and understand the improvements and benefits
· Reward staff involved in the project and champion the outcomes
· Prepared to challenge PIU decisions and actions
· Knowledge of Process Improvement tools and techniques
· Actively champion the improvements
· Comfortable with quantitative and qualitative data to ensure that data driven decision making is adhered to
· Ensure that continuous improvement (post project) is maintained
We’ve been lucky to have a few sponsor who have “ticked all of the boxes”. One of our challenges for the future is to find ways of supporting and coaching our sponsors of today and tomorrow so that they can perform to the very best of their ability.