Sponsor Questions

Here is a list of questions for your team to give to your sponsor to help your team gain further clarity on the change you are embarking upon.

Typically, a team will ask the sponsor to ponder these questions and share answers to these questions in an interactive team setting.

  • In your own words, how would you describe this change initiative? This is a great starter question — very open-ended and easy to begin dialogue.
  • Why is this important? Consider the personal as well as the business related elements in the answer.
  • What will success look like to you? Consider what you see as the critical success factors.
  • What else is keeping you up at night? Where does this fit? See if there are more important things on your organization’s radar screen. If this seems small and unimportant by comparison, consider the possibility that maybe you should be working on something else instead.
  • What is / is not the scope of this change initiative (“is not” is often called “no fly zones” or “sacred cows”)? This is a very important question. If you don’t narrow down the scope, this change initiative will be easier to solve than world peace. Also pay close attention to the areas that are sensitive from a political perspective.
  • Who are the key players and how do they view this change initiative? Consider those individuals who must be behind this initiative for it to be successful. ┬áIf you are not sure of their views, it’s OK to just say so. This indicates areas for the sponsor to become actively involved in finding out and gaining more information from these key players.
  • What do you want people to do differently to support this initiative? Why aren’t they already doing it? This and the next question explore the past to some extent. This question helps gain an understanding of some of the barriers which already exist.
  • What have you already tried? What was the result? You certainly need to acknowledge if this is the third or fourth attempt at this initiative. If things were tried and didn’t work, you need to convey what was tried and what happened. This way you are not plowing through the same path as your predecessors.
  • What excites you the most about this change initiative? What do you stand to gain or lose from this effort? This is useful information for your team to know in terms of what motivates you personally about this.
  • What concerns you the most about this change initiative? This question will help you articulate the biggest land mines from your perspective – especially those things you will personally need to do something about.
  • What do you think your team’s biggest challenge will be? This question will help your team understand the biggest challenge they will face from your point of view. Consider your personal challenges around change from your past and let the team know so they can be vigilant in these areas.
  • What kind of time frame will we be working with? Try to share specificity here. Ask the team leader or members if your idea of the time frame seems reasonable.
  • What resources and funding do you anticipate we will need? It’s always good to get, up front, a feel for the “wiggle room” you will have in terms of funding, equipment, etc. for this change initiative. Remember that if you tell the team this is one of your top two initiatives, then it seems reasonable that you would back up this initiative with appropriate time, people, and funding.
  • Who should be on the core working team? What do you think their time commitment will need to be? How can we get their commitment? Assuming you have only picked the team leader at this point, this is an appropriate question to ask. This is always a sticky area. The best people already have full calendars — and you don’t want to have the players with nothing to do (for obvious reasons). Have a realistic discussion on what it would take to help free up key individuals and how you can help. Often, the agreed upon approach is for you to speak with the supervisors of those that you want to be on the team and see if a commitment can be had.
  • What role do you see yourself playing? How involved do you want to be? How much calendar time do you feel you will need to set aside? Here’s the moment of truth. If you say this significant change initiative is very important, but won’t give much time — how likely is it that this will be a success?
  • What key decisions do you want to make or be involved in? This question will help you clarify the decisions you want to be involved in or personally make. If you don’t want to find yourself micro-managing this project, be selective on your choice of decisions and free up the team to use their creativity, wisdom and experience.
  • Besides this initiative, what else is keeping you up at night? It is amazing how often you can find ties between this initiative and other things which are of high importance to you. Quite often, with minor changes to this initiative, other pressing problems can be mitigated.
  • Do you have any last words of advice, wisdom, or suggestions for the team or team leader? This is a nice wrap-up question.