The opportunity adoption and implementation plan is as important as the business case, which sells the opportunity value to its decision-makers. Many innovation professionals believe that their work ends with constructing the business case, but that is not how it should happen. The development of the adoption plan is a transition stage in which the innovation professional has extreme value.
The most valued innovation professionals in the market are those who manage to engage the entire corporation in the opportunity and implementation of the project. The latter, yes, is an arduous step because it takes a lot of strategy and organization to convince several departments of the company to take the new project seriously.
In this topic, I'll show you how you can organize an adoption plan that engages all the stakeholders and departments needed to implement the opportunity. Let's talk about understanding who are the key people and tasks for the adoption of the initiative, the central positions and responsibilities that should be involved in the project, how to create an action plan to engage these stakeholders and how to develop an adoption timeline and a relevant communication plan for each stakeholder involved. In the end, we will still create a checklist that can be taken to the strategic decision meetings.
The first step is to identify what activities and people are needed to facilitate the opportunity's adoption. For this, we will use a framework that goes from the Business Case to the checklist for strategic decisions.
In the framework, we have tasks to be completed, start date, activity end date, person for whom the task was assigned, and space for annotations.
The second step is to understand who are the people of the company that are related to the advancement of the project, from the beginning to its commercialization, when the responsibility formally moves from the innovation area to the structure of the company.
The third step is to identify who the stakeholders are to create a structure and an action plan for each one of them. Unlike the previous step, we are now evaluating stakeholders both inside and outside the company.
Among the essential stakeholders may be:
- Supply Chain
- Local Community
With this list ready, you should evaluate how the project will impact each one, how you can respond to that impact, who is the person to whom you will address the communication, and in what project period the communication will be executed.
The fourth step is developing an adoption timeline that covers from the business case to the commercialization/application of the opportunity. This timeline should include the time/effort required to acquire resources and time to develop external partnerships, among other adoption activities needed for the project.
The timeline helps decision-makers understand the amount of time and resources required for the project. It is also efficient for organizing activities among participants because it provides a view of the top and impacts that can occur in the chain due to delays in certain activities.
To build the timeline, you can use from Excel to more specific software for project management.
The fifth step is creating a communication plan, a step as important as all the others we have discussed so far. It is essential to understand that different stakeholders should receive different communications, through different channels, with appropriate frequency and language. Yes, it's complex.
A failure in communication can throw away all the effort built so far. However, still, most innovation professionals don't pay attention to this element of the adoption process that aims to help convince the company to embrace the new opportunity.
Here's an example of a communication plan:
Note that for each project, communication targets change, and message types are also different. However, the matrix structure remains the same, exploring communication objectives, its target audience, message types, and frequency.
Building the communication plan requires a high level of organization and discipline. One suggestion is weekly to summarize the most important messages and monthly compile the main points for those interested. This strategy saves labor and increases communication efficiency, preventing relevant facts from being lost and discarding less critical points.
Finally, the sixth and final step is to create a checklist for decision-making. Here we must start with the idea that decision-makers are busy people who do not have time to review all the information available for decision making – especially when it comes to an innovative and different project from what they are used to.
Decision-makers need to receive the information as friendly as possible to understand the impact the project has on other areas and, of course, make the decision.
As you can imagine, it would be challenging to convince all decision-makers during a meeting. Therefore, when you schedule the appointment for decision making, make sure that the decision has actually been made before you even enter the room. The meeting is a mere formalization of the decision.
If you are not sure that the decision is made and you cannot clear the scheduled meeting, change the focus to something like "additional information," "clarification," or any other title that suggests discussing the subject. I do not recommend forcing the bar for any kind of action during the meeting.
To get more prepared for the decision-making meeting, check out the checklist below:
- 1- Identify all decision-makers.
- 2- Write down the decision you need them to make.
- 3- Elaborate and describe all the steps and information they need to make the decision.
- 4- Separated from the group, invite the decision-taker to talk and tell you what your individual decision is.
- 5- Write down what was the decision made by each one.
- 6- Be clear about what the next steps are. This helps you understand when the process ends.
Below is a table that can serve as an example to organize all the information.