The Value of Internal Champions
By Isaiah Mouw, CAPP
Each year, we at Citizens Parking are tasked with outlining three goals for our department along with three personal goals. For 2018, we added a mammoth goal for our division we knew would strengthen our internal policies and procedures and provide a competitive advantage to separate us from other companies. That mammoth goal we outlined was to have our company become Accredited Parking Organization (APO) certified.
The APO program was established to set industry standards that develop, ensure, and support a high level of professionalism and competency in parking management. To earn APO, applicant organizations work with third-party reviewers to organize and present evidence of accomplishment of more than 250 criteria across 14 categories, represented by about 10 different departments in our company, including human resources, finance, operations, and information technology. In order for us to get buy-in from these different departments, we had to have commitment from the top. Our president, Bijan Eghtedari, was very supportive and recommended we identify internal champions from each department to help meet the 250 criteria items.
Investment banker Paul Weinstein wrote about internal champions in an article in the Harvard Business Review. He says all internal champions possess credibility, connections, company intelligence, and motivation. We met with department heads to identify internal champions who possessed these traits. Their recommendations were spot-on. According to Weinstein’s article, internal champions are motivated by innovation, advantage, advancement, respect, and order. Our internal champions were indeed motivated by these factors, which made it easy to pitch them on the APO due diligence process.
Once we had our team of internal champions in place, the rest of the process was easy. Each team member was in charge of a section and they were self-motivated to provide the backup needed to meet each criterion item. After about 14 weeks with a check-in call once per week, the team had each of their sections done and we were ready to submit to IPMI.
The value of internal champions, as we learned, is instrumental to institutional success and project management.
Isaiah Mouw, CAPP, is vice president, municipal operations, with Citizens-Lanier Holdings.