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Getting Buy in for Your Idea

January 13, 2011

With the new year in full swing you may believe that it is your time to make a difference. Perhaps stepping out of the shadow of your coworkers or showing your supervisor what you can do. In How to Get Your idea Approved, author Amy Gallo reveals the 3 essential strategies to utilize when seeking approval for an idea.

Two Heads are Better than One

Before scheduling that formal meeting with your supervisor, I would ensure that your ideas are complete. Gallo suggests testing the theory by asking colleagues which in my opinion allows you to gauge whether after each conversation the idea is ready to go or needs more tweaking. If fellow employees can find faults with the idea, imagine what a boardroom full of executives with strict budgets and zero tolerance would do. Speaking with individuals who are “responsible for giving the green light” holds 3 purposes according to Gallo:

-Builds curiosity and establishes a need

-Demonstrates that you value feedback and recommendations

-Helps to seal cracks in your proposal and reveals areas to improve and expand

I strongly believe that the more you take in from your audience the better you can prepare and build a strong case for your idea.

Build on what you know

Writing out a detailed outline of your proposal would aid in uncovering any areas that key stakeholders might pick at in a formal meeting. If you come across a section that you cannot elaborate on then it’s likely that you have not thought it through. Gallo believes it is best to think about any possible concerns that your boss may have with your idea.

In Buy-In, Lorne Whitehead and John P. Kotler consider the 3 techniques that people use to bring down an idea:

-Asking confusing questions and for unnecessary detail

-Raising suspicions, fear and doubt

-Not taking your idea seriously and putting it off

Instead of dodging these attacks, Gallo recommends welcoming such questions and developing concise, honest responses to match. If there ever comes a time when an unfamiliar topic surfaces I suggest thinking calmly of what you know and building on it.

Establish a Need

I like to start my presentations off by establishing a need through careful research of company goals and values. Your superiors must realize that a change is required otherwise your idea is dead from the get go. Gallo considers following with the essentials like how you propose a change and how your idea benefits them. I walk the audience through my thinking process so that each step refers to the goals of my proposal. Including a tangible timeline allows the board to consider the costs that will be incurred and allows me to explain how quickly they will be recovered. But, Gallo recommends not overwhelming them with too much detail; it can distract from the main goals and can inadvertently kill the “positive mindset” that you’re trying to build.

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