Friday, September 17, 2010

Wanted: Champions!

As I re-surface old blog posts here in Digitization 101, I'm also thinking about past content from my other blog (eNetworking 101).  Many many months ago, I wrote blog posts both in eNetworking 101 and in Digitization 101 about the book Tribes by Seth Godin.  As I look back at those blog posts and the book Tribes, it occurs to me that our digitization programs need followers (tribe members), leaders and champions.  A champion is someone who understands what has to happen and want is needed so everything goes smoothly. A champion then uses his or her connections to acquire resources and eliminate roadblocks.  Most importantly, a champion erects roadblocks to stop those that want to interfere.  Stopping interference can be critically important, since well-meaning people will want to intrude for a variety of reasons.  A champion needs to be able to understand the intrusions and handle each in an appropriate way.  If there are legitimate ideas and concerns, then the champion needs to work to get that information to the team in a way that is constructive and not disruptive.

The champion may not be the manager and it may not be someone who has been appointed "the champion".  Likely it is someone who sees the need and then fills it.

As you look at your program, do you have a champion?  If you don't have one, do you need one?  If the answer is yes, look around your organization for someone who has the "social capital" to fill the role for you. You'll need to approach the person and tell them what you're looking for. Be sure to tell the person that this is a role that requires being aware of what is occurring in the organization and the ability (and willingness) to provide some influence on behalf of your program.  If the person is unsure of the role, just say "hey could you keep your ears open for me and tell me if there is something I need to know that is going to affect this project?"  If the person can do that, then he or she is one step closer to being your champion.

Champions do need information from you, so be sure to keep your champion in the loop on what's going on. This could be a simple as checking-in over a cup of coffee.

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