A tale of two stories from clients in the past few months.
One had achieved organization-wide internal support. The other hadn’t.
The client that didn’t gain support had reached out to key members of the organization, set-up numerous meetings, and put forward a strong case showing a clear business impact. At best, they got acquiescence on a project.
The key stakeholders might not stand in their way, but they weren’t rallying to the cause neither.
The organization that did get the support they wanted began 6 months earlier.
They had their staff members ask if they could attend meetings of other teams. They invited others to their meetings. They had regular lunches or post-work drinks with them. They systematically offered help to other departments without any expectation later on.
They took the time to really understand the unique goals, motivations, and (most importantly) the constraints of each group.
It turns out when someone feels you have taken the time to really listen and understand them, they are far more willing to help you (later).
This also lets you be smart about who you ask for support from, when you ask for support (not during major project deadlines!), and how you ask for support.
The great irony in many discussions about getting internal support is we know all of this. We know better than most the value of building positive relationships to getting things done. Yet still, over and over again, we wait until we need something important (often on a short deadline) before trying to build a relationship.
Believe me, people are very good at sussing out people who are only building relationships when they want something. It doesn’t feel good.