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Cascading Sponsorship

This model illustrates the different roles of managers during a strategic change process in a hierarchical organisation. The roles need to unfold top-down to progressively involve everyone.

The roles:

  • The change sponsor -> promotes a vision, is dedicated to communicate and legitimate the change he/she wants to see implemented
  • The change agent -> the change to the next level making sure things happen
  • The change subject -> carries out actions

Cascading Sponsorship

As the change cascades down, managers pick up the role their own boss assumed towards them, i.e. the change agent receives the communication from the sponsor (boss) and now becomes a change sponsor towards his/her own reports and so on, until the whole organisation is covered.

The point of the model is to warn us about a common confusion of roles: the top executive must resist temptation to become a change agent (make action plans) and focus on being a good vision communicator. The agent must not implement the changes, but lead others to do it, whilst assuming the role of vision promoter to the next level down. If he/she doesn’t pass on the vision with enthusiasm and clarity, the communication chain gets interrupted and the executive team will soon wonder why people didn’t get the message…