Business Performance Improvement Technologies - an Introduction

Process Improvement: Gaining a Buy-In - Part 1


The three most important forms of know-how that every person should be taught from Kindergarten on up are how to read fast with great comprehension, how to memorize and recall anything, and how to gain buy-in from others to an idea.

And of these, the one with the most lifelong value is how to gain buy-in.

The productivity of organizations world-wide would be multiple times better if managers had this skill. It's stunning how often we, as consultants, encounter great ideas that were shot down not on merit but simply through a lack of awareness of buy-in techniques.

Anyone involved with Eli Goldratt in the days when Jonah Training was taking shape had a front-row seat (or even been on the court) in gaining buy-in to solutions to problems. Anyone involved with Eli Goldratt in more current times, with his emphasis on the Viable Vision program, has enjoyed a front-row seat (or again, been a player) in the process of gaining a buy-in NOT to the solution of problems, but rather to a plan with ambitious goals.


Introduction to Gaining a Buy-In

If you want buy-in to a solution, an idea or a plan, the worst thing you can normally do is to present the idea, solution or plan as "here is this idea I've had..." or similar. Even worse: "someone else is doing this, so we should, too ..."

The result is highly predictable. Resistance; and not rational resistance, emotional resistance - the worst kind. You know it's not rational because the resistance starts long before they've even heard you out.

Sometimes, the making of the statement itself ("Listen, I think I've solved ...") is enough to set the first resistance against you. You can see it in the person's face and body language, as well as their words and tone. The face goes blank, arms cross, you hear an unenthusiastic or even challenging "Uh-huh, OK, I'm listening." Or, "Oh yeah? OK, I'm listening."

Why? Because, no matter what you say or do, it's already not their idea.

The "Not Invented Here" syndrome isn't a joke - it's a powerful reality. And it's a reality that dooms more good ideas to failure than any other element in the decision-making process.

However, in addition to the NIH syndrome you will encounter several layers of resistance even by well-meaning, intelligent people who are accustomed to working cooperatively. It is simply human nature.

The good news is, they can all be predicted, all be overcome. And the best tool is the Theory of Constraints Thinking Processes developed in connection with one of the improvement technologies. These same processes were the basis for the planning technique introduced on the home page of this web site.

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