We recently published Apigee Institute research showing that companies where there is C-level commitment to digital transformation are making the most progress. At an I Love APIs conference session where we talked about decision-making strategies to help enterprises embrace digital transformation, a couple folks asked a great question:
If the fact is that you're at the director level trying to drive change, what can you do?
I liked this question because the challenge of building support for change by "managing up" is real and persistent. Sure: you should assemble all the best evidence and data (we very much hope the Apigee Institute is a great source of that for you...).
But facts and figures aren't a silver bullet.
One of our great panelists offered a piece of advice that I fully agree with: seek out a mentor who is not in your direct management chain. Learning from the perspective (and hopefully benefitting from the support of) of a senior leader is absolutely a pattern for success.
For my part, I offered this. (Context: I was the first person at Microsoft with the title Director of Open Source Strategy. If you follow either Microsoft or open source you can guess that involved making a serious case for change...). My advice: seek out points of connection and points of reinforcement among your peers. Find ways that other +/- directors can see what your are advocating as being at least compatible with their goals--and ideally somehow reinforcing them.
When opportunities to make the case to senior leaders arise, set the stage with both formal (e.g., a bullet list of teams that are explicitly aligned with or supportive of what you are advocating) and informal (e.g., what they've heard via email or conversations) context that qualitatively implies this is a trend within and a logical next step for the organization.
Any other ideas? We'll keep at sharing not just our research but also our experiences on patterns for success evangelizing it and using it to drive change within organizations.