Buy In by John P. Kotter and Lorne A. Whitehead (2010)

Don’t scheme to keep potential opponents, even the sneakiest attackers, out of the discussion. Let them in. Let them shoot at you. Encourage them to shoot at you (p 88)!

Buy InIn this straightforward but overly simplistic exploration of winning buy in from stakeholders, Kotter and Whitehead outline a few practical guidelines to follow when bringing a proposal to the table:

  • Don’t be afraid of attackers. When handled correctly, these dissenters can help you!
  • Always respond calmly in a simple, straightforward manner that avoids data-driven answers.
  • Show respect for everyone.
  • Watch the audience. You need majority, not unanimous, approval to win the day.
  • Brainstorm possible attackes and prepare responses in advance.

This scenerio-based book is too long by half but the advice is worthwhile. Though parts of their advice seem counterintuitive, defending a proposal requires finesse and a certain dumbing down of the data which I can understand. It doesn’t mean the research isn’t there if needed. It was amusing to read about Allis Welli, Divertus Attenti, and the other ridiculously named (but all too accurate) personalities that pipe up to submarine a good plan. A quick read.


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