Buy-In by Dr. John Kotter
So, you believe in a good idea. You’re convinced it is needed badly, and needed now. But, you can’t make it happen on your own. You need support in order to implement it and make things better. You or your allies present the plan. You present it well. Then, along with thoughtful issues being raised, come the confounding questions, inane comments, and verbal bullets—either directly at you or, even worse, behind your back. It matters not that the idea is needed, insightful, innovative, and logical. It matters not if the issues involved are extremely important to a business, an individual, or even a nation. The proposal is still shot down, or accepted but without sufficient support to achieve all of its true benefits, or slowly dies a sad death. What do you do?
A Thought on Buy-In from Dr. Kotter
One final thought to put all this material in perspective. What if good ideas are crushed twenty times per day in one single big company (which, if it has 10,000 employees is a small number of ideas) and once a day for every 1000 people in a country (which also sounds very small)? Do the math, and you find that’s over 5,000 good ideas per year shot down in a big company and over 3 million per year in North America. Three million good ideas a year, the best 1% of which (30,000) might have a very large effect on a few, or maybe most, of us.
This is not a book about persuasion and communication in general, or even about all the useful methods people use to create buy-in. Instead, here we offer a single method that can be unusually powerful in building strong support for a good idea, a method that is rarely used or used well, and that does not require blinding rhetorical skills or charismatic magic. We have seen that this method of walking into the fray, showing respect for all, and using simple, clear, and common sense responses, can not only keep good ideas from getting shot down, but can actually turn attacks to your advantage in capturing busy peoples’ attention, helping them grasp an idea, and ultimately building strong buy-in.