- Prepare your case
- Ask for what you want
- Make your case
- Ask for commitment
It starts with clarifying your purpose. Also known as, “use a mirror first.” You have to know what your idea is and why it is meaningful. Then you can identify the stakeholders and predict the points of resistance.
Be creative as you define your idea and prepare your ask. If your idea creates a unifying and lofty goal that you can rally support around, that is great. If not, you will need to be able to connect your idea to existing corporate goals or strategies.
As you make your case, be ready to customize the message to the audience. What is in it for them and what is the best way (media and format) to make your appeal? Expect that leaders of a business unit are interested in anything that affects their results, but that not everyone needs to know all of the program plan milestones. Use questions carefully. Open ended to illicit information, closed to get focus or obtain approval. The art is mixing emotion, humor, logic and evidence in a way that makes everyone feel dignified and respected.
Sooner rather than later, but not too soon, assess readiness to commit to the idea. If you ask for commitment and get it, conclude the meeting by restating their commitment and then stop talking. If the stakeholders are not ready to commit, ask; “What can I do to win your commitment?” And take it from there.
Winning approval for ideas is a weakness in my game that I am working for the next few months. The inspiration for this blog comes from an on-line seminar I recently attended. I am also reading The Art of Woo, by Shell and Moussa. This book is about using strategic persuasion to sell ideas.