To understand executive sponsorship, think about whose opinions a worker in your organization really cares about. In most cases, the opinions of two people are the most highly valued:
The immediate supervisor - who conducts performance reviews on the worker and whose opinion represents the basis for raises and promotions
The CEO, who sets the strategic direction for the organization and is the ultimate decision maker on organizational priorition
Psychologically speaking, we know that most people are resistant to change, so often external motivation is required to effect large scale change. From a practical standpoint, it is difficult to bring into alignment all managers and supervisors in an organization (though this is a subject for a future blog). The CEO is the natural choice as the sponsor for major change because workers care about the direction set by the CEO.
Of course, there are a variety of changes affecting workers in an organization and the CEO cannot be personally involved in everything. Sponsorship is typically delegated to other executives and managers based upon the importance to the organization and the impact to the workforce.
Few, if any, changes affect every person in the organization on such a personal level as email, calendar, and a productivity suite of documents and applications. A Google Apps deployment is highly visible to every employee and, if done well, will yield increased productivity and employee satisfaction. Make sure your workers know that your CEO and key executives are strongly behind the initiative and provide visible evidence of this sponsorship.