Buy-In: Getting the Yes, Fighting the No

Disclaimer: I do not pretend to know the answer to this. My own experience—somewhat long, is littered with failures and, some successes. But, there may be some lessons for me–at least, although admittedly, I do not always learn.

Since very early I have personally and/or professionally “played” with ideas, trying to bring them to reality. I know many of you identify with this!

I am talking as a kid, playing with rocket-projects, hunting tools, model airplanes and such.  Although I give most of the credit to my older brother, whom—naturally, I followed…

Since then, with hobbies, but mostly as a professional, there has been many Ideas or innovations introduced with various projects—individually or as a group; at management level or as a lowly employee, or as a contractor or businessman. And like said, with many failures.

Starting as a kid, when I burned my hand preparing rocker powder—at a time when everything had to be done from scratch! Also, later on with many business-related proposals—most with no traction and few successes. This trend continues up to today.

Most areas of innovation— my case were related mostly to Information Technology included new development and much re-engineering with an emphasis on legacy applications.

Many projects were localized in small business units, many affected multiple units; some simple and some not so simple. Of course, the more involved—up the hierarchy, the more convincing of others must be done. Unless you are “up there,” where you have more authority but this is not always the case.

Even though convincing others is needed at all levels; sometimes you just have to go for it. As Steve Jobs gives the reason for this as quoted:

”A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them”

Most of the times, when I had the authority to do innovation or plain changes, success were seen. When I did not have the authority and had to have consensus or approval, it was an uphill battle. And continues to be.

Nevertheless, NEVER stop innovating and experimenting, especially on your own time if nothing else. And for those hard sells, prepare your Case, document it, get hard numbers (sometimes impossible), promote to whoever listens and work within the Project Management framework.

Every case is, of course, different but the general advice is that if you have the power, just do them. If not, work for them—get prepared.

Most of us tend to be skeptical of others and sometimes of ourselves. As mentioned in many articles, including my own: “To Innovate or Not?”. Innovation and its implementation are not easy. Excuses are bountiful as graphically depicted in “50 Reasons Not to Change

As part of the preparation efforts, you must anticipate objections, as cleverly explained by Kotter and Whitehead in his book “Buy-In.” Here, he divides objections into four groups: Confusion, Fear Mongering, Death by Delay, and Ridicule and Character assassination.  And then details the strategy to follow with the twenty-four most common attacks the proper responses. Check it out!

Innovation is a worthwhile and necessary effort. When you do right someone, somewhere will appreciate. A loss for the closed minded! And for the company that empowers them.

So, is getting the Yes necessary? No. If you have certain control. Is fighting the No worthwhile? Yes. Never give up! Is there always a Buy-In? Yes, if it is you. Keep at it!



1: Calling all change agents, By Helen Bevan

2: “Buy In” John P. Kotter and Lorne A. Whitehead, Harvard Business Review Press.2010.

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Jose FlorenJose Floren, PMI, CSM, is Sr. Developer, Applications at Masterbrand Cabinets, Inc. He has 25 years of comprehensive IT experience, contributing to solutions in support of a variety of industries and commercial applications, including ERP’s in manufacturing. Jose has managed and worked with IT teams and projects, performing systems analysis and design, and development and programming in a variety of architectures. You can contact Jose here.

Jose Floren

Just an IT guy struggling with implementing innovations.




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