You’re well underway with your project now, but you must take an objective look at your plans and progress so far by turning to your stakeholders and asking for their feedback on your proposals.
You’ve been so closely involved in your project that you need to know what other people, outside of the project but impacted by the proposed changes, think of the proposal. They can help you to understand whether the proposed changes actually
- have the right objectives
- are consistent with the stated objectives
- will be effective in attaining the objectives
- be implementable according to your plans
These people will also be able to answer the question: what have we missed?
You can’t ask everyone, but you need to ask representative groups from across the organisation. Get together groups of people from across the company, but make sure that you work in bands within your organisation’s hierarchy: don’t mix groups of managers with people who have no supervisory role. You want to know from each stratum in the company whether the proposal works for them!
Remember, this is only a proposal; make sure that you start each of these sessions by stating that this is not a polished final product, and explain how you got to this new way of working. Ensure that you address each of the bullet points above with questions that will help you to refine the design. Make sure that you understand the responses from each group of stakeholders by reflecting back their answers and capturing what they say visually, on flipcharts. You must avoid challenging their answers and not try to defend your plan. You have asked for their input and feedback so be prepared!! An even better solution is to use an independent facilitator; that will bring about a free flow of information from each stakeholder group.
This is going to take up some time. Each session should last between one and two hours and need to be as interactive as possible. Think about how you want to score the responses to each of the questions; you could consider making flipchart pages with 1-10 scores for agreement-disagreement. Your stakeholders can use sticky notes to each indicate their individual scores. Try to be as creative as possible!
My final piece of advice to make these sessions go smoothly is to provide the magic ingredient: TCB. Meetings with tea, coffee and biscuits always feel better to me, especially when there are chocolate chip cookies!