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BPI Sponsorship Role Map – Envision Phase

Blog: Biz-Performance, David Brown

BPI Sponsorship Role Map – Envision Phase

Sponsorship Role Map - Envision Phase.png


  • A graphical illustration, supported by clear role statements,     of the accountability and relationships between project sponsors, as     well as change agents, “targets” and advocates.

Client Value

  • A Sponsorship Role Map clarifies and makes public the accountability of the key people within the organization, and how they need to work together. Sponsors need to understand their role and what it entails, and to ensure that change agents and “targets”     (affected employees) know that they are ready to assume the sponsorship role. It is critical that change agents and affected employees are convinced that the BPI sponsors truly support the change. When this is the case, they are more likely to give their     own commitment.
  • If the identified sponsor has neither the commitment nor the empowerment necessary to mobilize the organization, the change will not be successful. It is essential that this issue be faced early     in the project and that actions be agreed to and taken to remedy the     situation.


It is critically important for the consultant and the client to understand the key roles in the change process. These roles are as follows:
  • Sponsor—the person or group who has the legitimate organizational accountability to effect change. There is a useful distinction between initiating sponsors (the most senior person with direct accountability for the change) and sustaining sponsors (the     network of leaders and managers who have accountability for one or more successive stages of the change).
  • Change agent—individuals or groups who are responsible for guiding or implementing change. Change agents who do not have the legitimate accountability to effect change cannot be sponsors; however, sponsors may also act as agents. Change agents     include the consulting team as well as internal people.
  • Target—individuals or groups who must actually change the way that they work. Sponsors and agents may also be “targets” of a change.    
  • Advocate—individuals or groups who support and     champion change, but do not have the power to effect change. Advocates may act and sound like sponsors; however, they do not have the power to actually make change.

Develop the Sponsorship Role Map in collaboration with the project sponsors and key internal change agents. (Fostering a climate of open and honest communication between the consulting team and the client is essential for this exercise.)
  1. Review the organization chart to ensure that the project sponsor is in the line of legitimate authority.
  2. Identify of all key internal and external stakeholders, and clarify their roles.
    • Roles include:
      • Initiating or sustaining     sponsors       
      • Change agents       
      • “Targets” of the change           
      • Advocates of the change.       
  1. Discuss and resolve any problems or dilemmas associated with commitment levels, formal     empowerment and competing priorities. This step can be dovetailed with the Stakeholder Analysis undertaken as part of the Communication Plan.
  2. Coach the leadership team on how they can best work together to support the initiating -sponsor.
  3. Facilitate role plays about potential role conflict between sponsors (at various levels) and     internal and external change agents.
  4. Present the Sponsorship Role Map to the wider senior management team. Link this to the project management, performance management efforts and to the Case for     Change. (Role Map Analysis)   
  5. Develop an initial strategy for     creating “buy-in” to the BPI initiative (and to the     accountabilities of sponsorship) from those who will have to adopt a sponsorship role at some stage in the BPI exercise.    
It is imperative that the client understands that the Sponsorship Role Map needs to be revisited and revised, as appropriate, at each phase of the BPI project, as well as within each of the Focus Areas.

Typical roles in the change process



  • Certain configurations of roles result in significant problems in executing and implementing BPI. For example:
    • Delegation of     sponsor responsibilities to change agents—change agents can not be sponsors because they do not, by definition, have the power to legitimize or make change happen within the target group.
    • Multiple and disjointed sponsorship of an individual process redesign—this will result in different target groups receiving different messages from their respective sponsors. It can also result in the polarization of design teams.
    • Sponsorship “black holes”—these result when sponsors and change agents skip over one or more layers of middle managers in the process of effecting change. This leads to the alienation of people who will, at some point, be required to actively support the implementation of change.

Some configurations almost guarantee problems

  • Be aware of cultural and language     barriers to the use of some terms, such as “targets”. Acceptable synonyms are:
    • for “sponsor”- accountable leader
    • for “change agent”-change facilitator
    • for “targets” affected employees; accountable employees
    • for “advocate”    – champion; supporter; ambassador.

Tactics/Helpful Hints

  • Begin the role mapping with the key internal sponsor (sometimes called the initiating     sponsor) and internal change agent (frequently the internal project     manager). Recognize that an open and honest relationship with these people is a valuable asset.
  • Present a very clear role map of the consulting team, stressing in     particular the accountabilities of people such as partners,     engagement managers and principal consultants. You cannot expect role clarity from the client if there is no role clarity within the consulting team.
  • Carefully explain the difference between sponsors, agents, and “targets” of BPI. Use this exercise as an opportunity to educate client     personnel in these change management concepts.
  • Reassure individuals     that their comments will be confidential. People are unwilling to     speak out or be critical if such assurances are not given.

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