The Executive Sponsor is the only one who can fulfill the actions of their role.
- cast the vision and
- overcome the atypical barriers.
However, a Relationship runs the majority of the time within the operational boundaries which have been established and the operating teams must be the ones to implement the Relationship on a daily basis.
Not casting vision is normally not the problem in the Executive Sponsor fulfilling their role. The Executive Sponsor being unwilling to overcome speed bumps that arise that the operating team cannot overcome is often not the problem in the Executive Sponsor fulfilling their role. The biggest challenge for an Executive Sponsor is to do ONLY those 2 functions and to do those 2 functions consistently.
Very often an Executive Sponsor is so emotionally drawn to the fulfillment of their vision that they do not let go of the operational aspect of the Relationship. When this occurs they are “over functioning”.
Problem example : Over Functioning Executive Sponsors:
John is the founder and CEO of SolGen Energy, Inc., a company which specializes in ultra small high power solar patches. This is a new technology which reduces the size of heritage solar panels to squares varying in size from a postage stamp to a post card. These very small solar panels are able to provide enormous electrical energy. Applications for the technology are endless. Manufacturing volume, distribution channel coordination, and patent and research work needed to keep ahead of the competition are all large and complex areas demanding attention. John has assembled a team of seasoned executive veterans of high growth companies. They have each taken on the responsibility of their area of focus. One of these executives is Rick. Rick is responsible for Strategic Relationships.
Recently, Rick and the VP of Marketing, Alice, have brought forward an opportunity to form a Relationship with several alternative usage companies. One was the second largest toy manufacturer who had interest in use of the energy “swatches” for their line of electronic games. The other was an automotive manufacturer with creative ideas for usage of the technology. John’s heritage is in real estate development where he saw the need for alternative energy applications. John developed the technology in his garage. John sold his business, formed Solgen Energy, and has never looked back.
For each relationship, John has cast vision with his executive sponsor peer from the other company of how the energy will expand both organizations offering, increase profits, and do so in an environmentally friend manner. The operating teams of SolGen Energy have embraced the Relationships and run forward implementing short term goals, tracking on Long Term Goals, understanding each other’s cultures, and generally making things happen.
It seems that as they move forward faster and faster, John has begun to hold the teams back. He insists on being involved in the weekly marketing meetings. John visits procurement and asks to review the vendor choices. He has started to want to overhaul the quality control processes of manufacturing. Even in the area of IT, he wants to choose the format of the reports that various managers need to run their portion of the business. On several occasions he has completely reversed the very mature programs that have been put into place with the other 2 organizations and has held onto time critical decisions wanting to “sleep on it” for what turns out to be endless weeks.
The operating teams respect John. However, they are very frustrated with John. They have yet to have their first Relationship Review in fear that if John is as involved as he is now in every detail, he will be even moreso once they tell him what is really going on. The Relationship with the toy manufacturer is now at risk because normal operating decisions associated with the ramping up of production for the Christmas season are not being made.
Analysis and Avoiding the problem of the over functioning Executive Sponsor:
John is over functioning. The rapid growth is taking the technology into areas well beyond what he ever imagined. Although he has personally assembled the executive leadership who form his operating team, he is unwilling to completely trust the future of his vision with them. They are all doing the excellent work he has hired them to do, work that he personally is not qualified to do, and they are all moving forward so fast. John is afraid to let go of the details in fear that his operating team will not come to him with the big issues that he really should be involved. SolGen Energy is stifled under the ceiling of its CEO. The Relationships which are dependent on John casting vision and overcoming barriers outside the capacity of his operating teams are getting neither of these roles fulfilled. Both Relationships are in jeopardy.
Solutions to how to get the Executive Sponsor to “let go” will be blogged after I describe the Under-functioning Executive tomorrow.