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The Ownership Conversation

Empty picnic table - the ownership conversation

This conversation - the Ownership Conversation - is not specifically in my book (Talking Change: Must-Have Conversations for Successful Leaders), but I do allude to many of the questions in other conversations. This is a bonus conversation that is needed for a successful change initiative transition.

As if often the case, a project structure is put in place for change initiatives – new systems, new training program, new methodology – and people and money are dedicated to the project for a period of time. The Ownership Conversation is key to identifying who owns and maintains the new way once the formal project is wrapped up.

The challenge is that this conversation doesn’t always happen or doesn’t happen at the right time. Ideally the Ownership Conversation starts at the beginning of the project to identify who will maintain the new system once it’s operational, or how new people will be trained on the new sales methodology if they join after all the formal training workshops are complete?

The Ownership Conversation is another way to reinforce the change and continue to gain the benefits of the change. Remember the Seven Dynamics of Change – people will revert back to the old way if the new way is not reinforced. If no one has budget to maintain the new system, continually fund the needed upgrades, or to train new hires, all of the original time and money spent will be wasted. Hence why this conversation should happen long before the end of the project, so that people’s time and sufficient budget and resources can be allocated for the continuation of the new way.

So, long before you throw the project over the fence into operations, have the Ownership Conversation to ensure all your hard work doesn’t die on the vine. If you find yourself in the situation where this conversation didn’t happen and you have to build the business case for continued funding, go back to the Why Conversation and the Results Conversation. Build your case around why this project was done in the first place and the results that have been realized due to it. Outline what gains will be lost if funding and resources are not sufficiently allocated.

The Ownership Conversation

Purpose: Identify the owner of a project once it’s operational and the required funding and resources to maintain the benefits of the project ongoing.

Who’s Involved:

  • Senior leaders and those who will be the sponsors of the change
  • The ultimate owner of what’s new or different (e.g., new system, new methodology, new training program)
  • Others with insight into the changes required and ongoing maintenance needs


  • Who is the appropriate owner of the change / new thing once it’s operational? Where possible identify a specific person within the team (e.g., Mark Jones in IT Services)
  • What service level agreements need to be in place once the project is operational?
  • What funding is needed to maintain the new way / new thing? (e.g., funding for ongoing upgrades or training)
  • What people / resources are needed to maintain the new way / new thing?
  • How will the new way be supported (e.g., in-house support or external third-party support)? And how will support be funded?
  • Who needs to be aware of ongoing updates/upgrades once the project is operational?
  • What documentation is needed related to the change (e.g., new process or procedure manuals)
  • What needs to be removed because it’s no longer needed in the new world (e.g., branded items, apps, platforms, hardware, equipment, documents or files)?
  • What else is needed to maintain the changes?

Enjoy your conversation!