It’s Not Always Who You Know

Who You Know_NBLDiscussing subject-matter experts today – employees we’ll rely on to bring the knowledge to new business process design for a change project – and a familiar set of names pings around the office.

This is a good thing because subject-matter experts, or SMEs, who are already actively involved can jump right in and share their wisdom.

But, it can also be a not-so-great thing when we go with who we know and forget to consider a broader and more fully representative swath of experts. Why do we default to our familiars?

We think it will take too much time to get newcomers up to speed. Harder to admit: We don’t know stakeholders well enough.

Here’s the thing: Taking the time, during this early project stage, is always worth the effort:

  • It ensures we’re not missing key details.
  • It provides greater credibility for the project when more areas of the business are represented.
  • It saves us endless amounts of time in later stages, trying to create awareness and gain traction and support.
  • It builds a sense of ownership, which breeds natural ambassadors for the project.
  • It’s the right thing to do.

Bottom line: Get to know as wide a group of stakeholders as possible, and you’ll have a built-in group of supporters who’ll do more than cheerlead – they’ll make sure you succeed.

2 thoughts on “It’s Not Always Who You Know

  1. Hi Rita,

    That’s a great example of the adage that the people closest to the work know it the best. And why those on change teams should always take the time to understand the real work of any organization before imposing change.

    It also sounds like something my old company, Levi’s, would do in its sewing plants.

    Thanks for sharing this story.

  2. When I worked in a sewing factory one summer during college (yes, we still had sewing factories in the US back then!) we had a work-flow “expert” design new stations to move fabric and items. I got my fellow seam-stitchers together to pitch ideas for additions and improvements to the plan. And our supervisor listened to us! Just shows that those of us at the bottom of the factory food chain deserved to be listened to too.
    Nice post, Vickie!

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