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  • Writer's pictureNeil James

Supporting the IBP Deployment Leader - Sponsorship, Mentoring and Coaching

This is the final article in a 3-part series which explores the challenging role of the Deployment Leader in IBP adoption programmes. Previous articles have focused on the specific capabilities required in this role and advice on taking the first steps to define key development and support needs for deployment leaders.

This article concludes the discussion by proposing key approaches for providing this support.

Personal development strategies in many businesses are now guided by the principles of adult learning often summarised as the ‘70/20/10 approach’. This refers to an optimised learning programme comprising 70% of learnings from on-the-job experiences, 20% through focused developmental relationships (eg with a manager or coach) and 10% through more traditional academic or classroom-based learning. This proves a useful model to guide development planning.

In the case of the IBP Deployment Leader, the role of the 20% arising from developmental relationships is especially critical. I propose here 3 critical forms of support for IBP deployment leaders.

1. Sponsorship

The complex and interdependent nature of IBP deployment across a business creates a very challenging environment for the deployment leader. IBP adoption typically requires significant change at all levels in the organisation. In such a context, it is crucial that the deployment leader has, and is seen to have, senior executive support. It is also important that this support is not only a symbolic or verbal support but translates into ongoing engagement and participation in key aspects of the programme.

For example, as a major transformation, an IBP deployment programme will invariably create many points at which resourcing, investment, prioritisation and trade-off calls must be made. Here the deployment leader relies heavily on sponsorship being delivered in a tangible and committed way, preferably by a senior leader in the business.

Successful IBP deployments are often differentiated by the quality of senior sponsorship that is achieved and Figures 1 & 2 summarise best practice on the contributions of senior sponsors and the requests that should be made of sponsors in order to facilitate these.

Figure 1 - Key Sponsor Contributions to an IBP Programme

Figure 2 - Key Requests of an IBP Deployment Programme Sponsor

2. Mentoring & Coaching

The terms mentoring and coaching are widely known and are often used interchangeably. However, there are important differences between them which are relevant to the provision of support to IBP deployment leaders.

Whereas coaching uses a range of techniques to enable a coachee to create solutions from their own resources, mentoring adopts an approach that provides specific advice or guidance based on the mentor’s experience or expertise. However, whilst the two approaches are distinct, they can be highly complementary when applied together in a complex change and deployment programme such as for IBP.

Mentoring and coaching may be delivered by a line managers or specialists outside the line organisation and this choice will typically be driven by the specific support topics in question, examples of which are outlined below.

2.1 Mentoring

Mentoring can be a particularly valuable support for the IBP deployment leader in providing guidance on delivering the technical or functional aspects of the role, especially where the deployment leader has limited direct experience of a best-practice IBP process. Where an organisation itself lacks expertise in the process, an external mentor can be a critical support to ensure that the deployment leader is able to grasp the conceptual process design challenges of IBP.

However, mentoring can also provide important support on the key aspect of the IBP deployment approach itself. Evidence from many IBP programmes across industry sectors shows that the key differentiators of success are typically associated with how the process has been deployed rather than the detailed technical design of the process, its system and tools or organisation. Therefore, having access to experience of how to select, tune and apply change methodologies is of particular value to the IBP Deployment Leader.

2.2 Coaching

As explained in previous articles in this series, the IBP Deployment Leader role makes demands of the leader across the 3 capability dimensions of knowledge, skills and mindsets & behaviours.

Coaching is a key approach to support these 3 dimensions, firstly because it enables the deployment leader to apply and leverage the knowledge and skills they have acquired in preparation for the role. In this area, coaching can be applied to help the deployment leader to consider the real-world (normally imperfect!) context in which they must apply their conceptual knowledge, to identify risks and opportunities in this context and to create deeper levels of preparation for the challenges they will face. This is an especially helpful step in starting to build confidence in what is a challenging role and which is required in order to work over an extended period, across functions and with all levels of the organisation.

This latter feature of the IBP deployment challenge also leads to a critical requirement for resilience in the deployment leader. IBP programmes are not only complex and multi-dimensional but they also tend to operate over extended periods of time, with major programmes taking 3 years or more to complete. Coaching is a very effective tool for lifting the support discussion with the deployment leader up from transactional detail to this softer, but nevertheless critical factor for individual and project success.

Finally, coaching allows the deployment leader to confidently build and sustain productive mindsets and behaviours through the course of the IBP programme. For example, in order to support deep and lasting change across the business, the programme will typically need to adopt a change process which includes dialogue and co-creation. At times, this can be challenging, for example as resistance and denial of the need for change in parts of the business can make dialogue uncomfortable or initially unproductive. The deployment leader, in these cases, needs to retain a clear mindset on the value of engagement and collaboration and a coaching approach can help them develop strategies to achieve this.


  • The IBP Deployment Leader fulfils a critical role in IBP adoption programmes and significant demands are made on them which draw on a wide range of capabilities, incorporating elements of knowledge, skills and mindsets & behaviours.

  • Providing specific support to build and apply these capabilities is critical to the success of IBP deployment programmes.

  • Sponsorship, mentoring and coaching are key elements in the support of IBP deployment leaders and should be part of a defined development approach integrated within the wider IBP adoption programme.

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