How to build internal alignment with the challenge wheel
It’s easy to understand that stakeholder alignment is important for procurement reform projects. If everyone agrees on the goal, why it’s important, and how it should be achieved, then a project is set up for success. Plus, we all have horror stories about institutional changes gone wrong. Even if they are carried out with the best of intentions, reforms can fail when they feel inflicted upon an organization, and the reform changes don’t address the problem at hand. Savvy procurement reformers know that building buy-in early with key stakeholders is helpful to avoid this fate.
But it’s one thing to understand why stakeholder alignment matters – it’s another to know how to achieve it. Bringing together stakeholders to have a meaningful and productive conversation can seem daunting. Stakeholders may have different areas of expertise, unique perspectives on how to address the problem, and even disagree on the nature of the problem itself.
To help our Lift teams tackle the challenge of internal stakeholder alignment at LiftOff, together with our project partners Reboot we developed the Challenge Wheel. We were very impressed how this tool enabled cross-functional groups to come to a shared understanding of their target procurement challenges, as well as generate useful insights to shape their reform strategies. Plus, it only took an hour for teams to complete!
We’re excited to share the Challenge Wheel with you, along with instructions to get the most out of this tool. Stay tuned for more resources from Lift to help your team launch procurement reform projects.
Challenge Wheel instructions
- Estimated time: 60 minutes for small group work
- Materials: Large surface such as a whiteboard or pad for drawing a large version of the Challenge Wheel, sharpies or other pens with a thick tip. Optional: Copies of Challenge Wheel for individual reference
- Guidance for use
- Ground rules can facilitate meaningful group work. We found that part of the power of the Challenge Wheel is that it gives everyone a chance to contribute insights and co-create a solution, rather than provide a top-down prescription. To get the most of this power, we suggest using ground rules such as writing down all ideas and withholding judgment until the Wheel is complete and going around in a circle when soliciting information from your group rather than asking for volunteers.
- The Challenge Wheel is a building block. The Challenge Wheel is great for surfacing insights that can make or break a reform strategy – but it’s just the first step! These insights should be carried along into the larger process of creating a reform plan. Check out our additional Lift guidance and planning resources here.
Analyzing your proble
We suggest completing the Challenge Wheel by moving clockwise from section 1 (“Root Challenge”), although feel free to write in the other sections as ideas surface.
- #1 Root Challenge: What is the root challenge? Think big picture issues. There might be a few root challenges. Examples include: normalized corruption, systemic racism.
- #2 Symptoms: What symptoms or impact is created by this challenge? Why is it a challenge? Ask your team to think about what kind of environment this creates. Multiple ideas here is a good thing. Examples include mistrust, lack of access to data, confusing information, etc.
- #3 Who: Who are impacted by these challenges, both the causes and symptoms? How are they impacted? The more specific the better – the ‘Who’ should be clearly identified people, groups, etc.
- #4 Challenge: Ask your team to review the previous three sections and think about the resulting challenges. Your team may have already identified a clear challenge before starting the challenge wheel exercise, or other challenges might have emerged. Write everything down, but have the team focus on one to continue throughout the rest of the wheel.
- #5 Constraints: Discuss the limits of working on your specific challenge. What policies or political dynamics keep you from succeeding? What resources would be needed and hard to get? Examples include lack of funding, lack of political will, lack of capacity.
- #6 Opportunities: While knowing your constraints is important, so is identifying your opportunities. Have your team explore how they might tackle this issue. Don’t focus on solving the problem, instead of on areas where they could find out more, work with others, etc. Examples include: working with X partner in new ways; researching new data technology methods used by other teams; meeting and bringing in newly elected officials to team’s work, etc.
- #7 HMW: This is a space to have the team review the entire wheel, and rephrase your challenge as an opportunity statement. These statements, known as “How Might We” statements, set up future work on the reform strategy.
- #8 Change / Vision: If you have a clear vision already, feel free to let your team add it here, but let the team know that this will be developed further!