You are a teacher with exciting plans for the upcoming school year. You are a principal looking to make a bold changes in your school. You are a CEO with new initiative to survive in this never ending recession. The leaders that capitalize on the power of “Buy-In” will reach all of their goals and never have to lose their positive and friendly ways. Buy-in is keeping a new plan, initiative, or strategy alive and growing simply by focusing on success.
1. When formulating your new plan try to build on past successes in your school, class, or company. For example, my school has had a “Go Green Club” for years. So when the principal asked for a new program to keep our town’s soccer field clean, we didn’t start a new club, we merely piggybacked on the existing one. Thus, “Green K.I.C.K.” (Keep It Clean Kommittee) was born. Plus, we took full advantage of our students’ well-known love of playing soccer by promising members a chance to kick the ball around after collecting 10 pieces of trash.
2. While presenting your new plan, look for the few people who really seem to be “on board” with you (those nodding their heads in agreement, furiously taking notes, or smiling). You have already succeeded with these people, time to build on your success. With “Green K.I.C.K.” I already knew which 8th graders were open to new ideas, so I went directly to them first, and got them excited.
3. Make these “on board” teachers, students, or employees your Lieutenants. Foster their support by rewarding them with relative freedom in their implementation of the plan and a closer association with you. Those that were excited about “Green K.I.C.K.” became the team captains for when we played soccer after cleaning the park. Team captains chose teams and got to make all decisions for their teams.
4. Get the Lieutenants’ feedback on how to improve your plan/strategy further AND what they like about it. Exactly which words appealed to them? What are they doing to help your plan that you hadn’t thought of? This feedback informs your next stage of implementation. Never underestimate your employees or students. Even my Eighth graders had some brilliant insight into “Green K.I.C.K.”
5. Build on your new success. The others in the group that liked your ideas yet hung back, will feel more confident to follow you now that they see others supporting you. Reinforce those aspects of your plan that your Lieutenants said they liked, while modifying/rewording those parts they weren’t crazy about. The captains of “Green K.I.C.K.” told me they hated the idea of picking up the trash with their bare hands, so we got everyone plastic gloves. Needless to say, there isn’t a student alive who doesn’t like the getting out of school-work. Also, we get to play soccer, so we emphasized the fun and downplayed the garbage part.
6. Don’t dwell too much on winning over those who fiercely oppose you (and they will always exist). However, LISTEN CAREFULLY to what they say. Abraham Lincoln was a genius by hiring his biggest rivals into his presidential cabinet. Nothing is more valuable than someone who does nothing else but look for weakness in your plan (which of course is priceless information). Some students still refused to clean or play soccer, but sat in the park on the bleachers. This gave me the chance to pick their brains while keenly supervising the others cleaning and playing soccer.
7. Be patient as your plan grows and takes root. Remember that nothing of any value is ever created quickly. Time to grow, time to strengthen, time to adjust to unforeseen obstacles, time to reorganize, time for others to get used to your plan are all key ingredients to your success. In my judgmen,t “Green K.I.C.K.” had fair success this past year, and I expect it will only grow this coming year. Now that I have the kinks worked out I will try expanding the club to include other classes or grades.
This post was inspired in part by reading a post by Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik
Copyright © 2010 David Mach