Saturday, July 14, 2012

Building Support For Your Ideas

July 2012 Book Review

John P. Kotter and Lorne A. Whitehead

If you’re in sales or in a position to steer change, this book gives a great framework for generating the buy-in” you’ll need to get the project moving forward.  I wasn’t a big fan of the authors’ story at the beginning of the book, but I also understand there’s no singular example of all the pushback/objectives one would receive for a specific proposal.  The names they give to the “idea killers” are a bit distracting and take away from the points I think they were trying to communicate in the hypothetical story.
The authors categorize “idea killers” four ways: fear mongering, delay, confusion, and ridicule (or character assassination).  They also give 24 examples spanning these four categories, but more importantly, outline the framework for overcoming these idea killers.
  • Let attackers into the discussion (don’t avoid, but specifically invite them to the table).
  • Keep your responses simple, clear, pointed, and full of common sense.
  • Show respect, keep the high road and don’t get defensive.
  • Focus on the audience and don’t fixate on one detractor.
  • Prepare for any and all questions.
Here are a few of the better quotes and passages I came across:
“Most of us have been trained to think this way.  Indeed, almost all education teaches us to think in this manner.  An approach of overwhelming others with data and logic certainly sounds reasonable and certainly can be successful some of the time.  But, it can even kill the very quality that must be present in order to build strong buy-in for an idea’s crucial attention.”
“Great leaders throughout history have understood this point about clarity, simplicity, and common sense astonishingly well.”
“Multiple studies have shown that 70 percent of the time, when significant change is needed, people back away, go into denial, try but fail rather miserably, or stop, exhausted, after achieving half of what they want using twice the budgeted time and money.”
 “To paraphrase John F. Kennedy when he spoke of the moon mission, “we can be the ones to succeed, not because it is easy, but because it is hard.”  That may sound counterintuitive, but it is in fact very insightful.”

The Fightin' Analyst Book Rating:

out of five stars