Buy-In

The data is clear — the rate of change in the world is increasing exponentially. Numerous factors indicate that not only is the world moving more quickly, but that the rate of change may be the defining characteristic of the business world for the foreseeable future.

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?

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.


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.


Meet the Characters

You have done a wonderful job trying to propose a solution from your vantage point in the organization. I applaud your effort.

This is a great idea. In fact, I think we can build on it. We should integrate it into our strategic plan for next year.

We were just voted the best place to work for the 10th year in a row. Why would we need to change anything if we're doing so well?

The plan is too simplistic, this is a complex issue. You are underestimating what will be required. We need additional research.

We have been in this business for 25 years. I don't see anyone else doing anything like this, why should we?

You want to roll this out in November? That's near Thanksgiving. I think we should have a company party for Thanksgiving this year.

You don't seem to understand the issue here. The real problem we have is with the budget. We need to focus on that, not this issue.

This is all very interesting, but how will I do my job while we are going through all these proposed changes?

And never underestimate the negative effect of just one major change effort being derailed. 

Job losses go up, stock price goes down, quality of products or services slip, and what if it's not your employer but an organization that supplies your firm with critical software.

The numbers add up. The consequences add up. And that, obviously, is not good, nor necessary.

So let's stop it.






Save 50%: Accelerate Discussion Guide

Subscribe for free articles, discounts, and leadership insights.


What We Do

We work with leaders to help them move organizations faster, with less chaos and more efficiency, enabling success no matter the obstacles. Combining deep business acumen and experience, we provide the guidance and education to help our clients lead the entire organization through the 8-Step Process for Leading Change.

Learn More »


Books by Dr. John Kotter

Find a retailer here to purchase Buy-In.


From Buy-In

Read 24 Attacks and 24 Responses, as mentioned in Dr. Kotter's book Buy-In.