We all know too well that internal projects are like Marmite, you love them or you hate them. Unfortunately for their sponsors, most people in a company hate them. If you’re the sponsor you’re going to have a pretty hard time convincing others to get on board as they are just 'too busy' or simply not interested; I’ll call it the sponsor's dilemma. But is there a silver lining?
Yes, there is! Your internal project champions should not fear. I’ve recently been going through my own internal project (disclaimer - the team at Founder + Lightning aren’t haters!) and I’m ready to share my wisdom with you. Below are 6 rapid-fire tips ready for you to feast on:
Tip 1 - Involve but don’t nag co-workers
- Their participation should be optional. Whilst you want to buy in, you don’t want to force it as it limits the value derived from the participants.
- Once you’ve got their buy-in, don’t waste their time. They are doing you a favour so make it easy for them to respond and share their thoughts.
- Don’t be afraid to utilise their expertise just like on any other project. Running an internal project doesn’t mean you should go it alone.
Tip 2 - Share little wins quick and often
- Frequent sharing allows you to keep the momentum on your side. You want to avoid the stigmas attached to previous internal projects.
- The aim is to keep on the radar not under it. Your shares should be loud enough so that your co-workers can hear you but don’t shout.
- A collection of positive reference points will come to your defence when the going gets tough as your resource is usually cut first in these times.
Tip 3 - Visualise the benefits in their language
- If there is no tangible benefit to them then, frankly, there is no tangible benefit at all, at least in their eyes. It has to make clear sense in their terms.
- Keep the benefits engaging as attention spans are limited. The latest template from Microsoft office isn’t going to cut it, so get creative!
- Don’t overcomplicate things and keep it simple stupid. You’re operating outside their normal line of work so don’t make it difficult for them.
Tip 4 - Make friends now but don’t abuse them later
- You don’t know who you’ll need along the way so be nice to everyone (good life skill). Gavin in finance suddenly just got a lot more interesting…
- Quick wins are limited as you should aim to build long term relationships. Avoid throwing them under the bus when they’re no longer required.
- Internal projects can be lonely at times so you’ll want some people whom you can talk to. You’re a maverick but every maverick needs their goose…
Tip 5 - Stay focused and positive throughout
- There will be a lot to negotiate along the way so stay strong. There are multiple departments that you’ll need to work with and showcase value to.
- Everybody might not be as excited as you are so it’s imperative that you believe in yourself. There’s no time to be dragging your heels.
- These things take time and sadly you and your project are at the bottom of the food chain so be prepared for setbacks along the way.
Tip 6 - Thank everyone for their contribution
- As much as you think you’ve been a saint you probably got on the nerves of a few people. They have been patient with you so give them a mention.
- By being nice you’ll bring out the best in them. Even better, they’ll probably share that warm fuzzy feeling right back at you.
- As you’ve done such good job management will want you to do it all over again. The thank-you just sent lightens the mood before your next email…
So there you have it! 6 rapid-fire tips all for the cost of a few minutes. While I’m incredibly fortunate to have such a great team around me at Founder + Lightning, it definitely helped me to follow these principles. I like to think we’ve got a pretty good website out of the whole process but I wouldn’t have succeeded without their invaluable support. On reflection it’s not just internal projects that benefit from the above it’s actually all!
Most importantly, however, make sure you check out the website and let us know what you think!