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Five Bs of Executive Buy-in

By special guest contributor Kirk Sievert, AdPro (Prosci Primary Affiliate for Canada)


As a senior executive and sponsors of change, and with more than five years as an International Executive Instructor for Prosci teaching change management practitioners, one of the most frequently asked questions I have received is, "how can I get my executives on-board with change management and fulfilling their roles as sponsors?"

I'd like to say I have an easy answer to that one, but the truth is this may take time - remember, change is a process. One of the great tools to help is of course Prosci's ADKAR® Model - you've got to build their Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement. Prosci's ADKAR® Model says that in order for a change to be made successfully, an individual must have strong

  • Awareness of the need for change
  • Desire to participate and support the change
  • Knowledge on how to change
  • Ability to implement required skills and behaviors
  • Reinforcement to sustain the change

Now, applying the same model to the change, "applying change management", we get:

  • Awareness of the need for change management
  • Desire to participate and support change management
  • Knowledge on how to apply change management
  • Ability to implement change management
  • Reinforcement to sustain change management

Ask yourself: How can I build Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement for change management - especially with senior leaders?

Here are a few tips, you can remember this as the "Five Bs of Executive Buy-in"

  • Best Practices
  • Business Case
  • Be Specific
  • Be Assertive
  • Bring in an Expert


Best Practices

Read, re-read and read Prosci's benchmarking report again for a third time - being familiar with best practices will enable you to answer questions about change management with confidence and credibility. Executives thrive on effective performance and how better than by following the learnings of more than 2000 organizations? Prosci's 2009 edition of the Best Practices in Change Management benchmarking report also includes some important findings you can use to position change management in your organization including the costs and consequences of applying change management late on a project and the correlation between effective change management and meeting objectives, staying on schedule and staying on budget. Best Practices teaches us effective methods, efficient ways and powerful tools for managing and leading change - become the subject matter expert in change management.


Business Case

Based on the business case for the project, develop a solid business case for change management - remember change management is all about benefit realization. Our goal is to have the people ready, willing and able, the day we go live with the project, so we can maximize project benefits as soon as possible. Weave as many of the four benefits of change management - benefit realization, risk mitigation, return on investment and certainty of return - into your change management business case as possible. The stronger you can make the connection between effective change management and realizing project benefits, the stronger your business case will be. Then be ready to defend your business case and educate others about the true bottom line benefit of change management.


Be Specific

In planning Sponsor Roadmap activities, be specific with your requests and support your executives fully. Sponsors are often time starved and removed from the potential day-to-day impacts of a change - they need a trusted advisor or coach to help keep them active and visible. Remember, the success of the project is their success, so if you can help them to achieve better results, you'll win their respect, admiration and support. But be specific with those requests. Executives have limited time and multiple demands - they will value you if you can design and support them in ways that minimize the time requirement and maximize the impact of their actions.


Be Assertive

If you approach your executives with timidity, they think you lack confidence and you'll fail to make your point. Nobody likes to hear about more problems, especially executives who already feel under the gun - give them solutions. Remember you are backed by Best Practice research and methodologies that can help your organization achieve higher levels of success. They need to hear and know this. You may be a pioneer in your organization, with knowledge others don't have - your task is to boldly move forward with ideas, answers and solutions to the problems that may be plaguing your past and current projects. Don't wait for someone to ask you for help - assert yourself!


Bring in an Expert

Sometimes you need the support of an outside expert to break-through a wall. An outsider has the independence to challenge traditional thinking, breakdown paradigms and "teach the old dogs new tricks". Use those experts to send a clear message and help bring executives to their own ah-ha moments regarding change management. Then, make sure you are poised to be assertive, armed with Best Practices, have a solid business case and be specific with your requests.


Good luck and remember to share your experiences.



About the author

Kirk Sievert is a master change management instructor and accomplished speaker. He is the founder and CEO of AdPro Change Systems Inc - a Canadian-based advisory and learning development company specializing in the growth of organizational change management competencies. Prior to starting AdPro, Kirk was one of Prosci's first master instructors, leading hundreds of practitioners through interactive and experiential learning about leading the people side of change. Over his 20 year career, Kirk built a wealth of knowledge and experience in leadership roles in the chemical, banking, real estate, financial services and consulting industries. As Vice President of Marketing and Strategy for a national insurance company, Kirk led the executive group of his business unit in the creation of strategic plans, transformation of the service delivery model and expansion into new markets.

AdPro provides open enrollment Prosci Change Management certification programs in Canada and also offers a variety of on-site trainings for Corporations, Government Agencies and the Health Care industry, including Executive & Sponsorship training, Managerial & Supervisory training as well as practitioner certification, in change management. Upcoming open enrollment sessions offered by AdPro in Canada:

  • July 6 - 8, 2010 - Whistler, BC - SOLD OUT
  • July 13 - 15, 2010 - Toronto, ON
  • July 20 - 22, 2010 - Nova Scotia
  • August 10 - 12, 2010 - Montebello, QC
  • August 24 - 26, 2010 - Banff, AB
  • October 26 - 28, 2010 - Toronto, ON
  • November 2 - 4, 2010 - Banff, AB
  • November 16 - 18, 2010 - Nova Scotia
  • November 23 - 25, 2010 - Dundurn, SK
  • December 7 - 9, 2010 - Montebello, QC




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Prosci Change Management Certification

Program highlights:
  • Apply the methodology as you learn it on a real project
  • Learn from experienced executive instructors
  • Become part of a change management community
  • Earn 2.4 CEUs, 24 PDUs and 23.5 HRCI recertification credits
  • Walk away with products and course materials worth over $1000

Download the certification program brochure

Upcoming sessions:

  • August 24 - 26, 2010: Chicago, IL area - FULL
  • August 24 - 26, 2010: Denver, CO area - FULL
  • August 31 - Sept 2, 2010: Washington DC area - FULL
  • September 14 - 16, 2010: Denver, CO area - FULL
  • September 21 - 23, 2010: San Francisco, CA area - FULL
  • October 5 - 7, 2010: San Francisco, CA area - NEW
  • October 19 - 21, 2010: Washington DC area - FULL
  • October 26 - 28, 2010: Washington DC area
  • November 2 - 4, 2010: Denver, CO area
  • November 16 - 18, 2010: Tampa, FL area
  • December 7 - 9, 2010: Washington DC area
  • December 7 - 9, 2010: San Francisco, CA area

Visit the certification training page

Email a certification inquiry or call
970-203-9332 to register today.

"The best training class I have had in years. Goes way beyond the strategy and framework and focuses on real world problems and the tools to solve them."
- Jennifer J., April 2009 participant

"This was the most effective and engaging course I've ever taken. I feel that I can truly use this knowledge in my personal and professional life immediately."
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- Robin S., March 2009 participant

"This program absolutely over-delivered my expectations. I now feel more prepared and better equipped to do my job."
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Offerings for applying Prosci's change management methodologies:


  • Change management certification ($2800)- 3-day program where you bring a project you are working on and apply all of the assessments and tools as you learn them - taught by former fortune 500 executives at locations across the US - includes over $1000 in products, including the Best Practices in Change Management benchmarking report, the Change Management Toolkit and the Change Management Pilot Pro 2010
  • Train-the-trainer ($3500) - learn how to teach Prosci change management training programs in your organization
  • Onsite training - bring Prosci to your location for 3-day certification programs, 4-6 hour executive briefings, 1-day manager programs or 1-day employee programs - call +1-970-203-9332 for more information

Methodology tools:

  • Change Management Toolkit ($389) - hardcopy 3-ring binder presenting Prosci's change management methodology, includes templates, checklists and assessments for managing the people side of change (includes USB drive)
  • Change Management Pilot Pro 2010 ($449) - online tool including Prosci's change management methodology, eLearning modules and downloadable templates, assessments, presentations and checklists
  • Change Management Guide for Managers and Supervisors ($189) - tools to help supervisors engage and coach their direct reports through change (includes 4 copies of the Employee's Survival Guide)
  • PCT Analyzer ($149/$349) - web-based tool for collecting PCT Assessment data, analyzing results, identifying risks and developing action steps

References and books:

  • Best Practices in Change Management benchmarking report ($289 / quantity discounts available) - journal-style report with lessons learned and best practices from 650 participants, presented in an easy-to-use format - reads as a checklist of what to do and what not to do
  • Change Management: the people side of change ($18.95 / quantity discounts available) - a primer for anyone involved in organizational change that addresses why manage change, individual change management and organizational change management
  • ADKAR: a model for change ($18.95 / quantity discounts available) - the definitive work on Prosci's ADKAR® Model
  • Employee's Survival Guide to Change ($14.95 / quantity discounts available) - a handbook to help employees survive and thrive during change, answers frequently asked questions and empowers employees to take charge of change



*** Prosci also offers leadership packages - groupings of products at discounts that offer you some of the most helpful and common combinations of Prosci change management resources



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