Henry Atman had an idea that would revolutionize the manufacturing facility.  He knew his idea would face stiff opposition, but he was also convinced if changes weren’t made, the facility would close in five years.  He sketched out his ideas visually and in words.  But rather than take his ideas to the Executive Team, he decided to get the reactions of others.

The first person he shared the ideas with was Marlan Hudson, the union president.  He gave her a quick overview and then asked her:  “What changes would you make in what I’m proposing?”  He knew if he asked for acceptance of his concept, she would reject it.  What he asked her instead was to contribute to the concept by helping modify it.

Henry took Marlan’s suggestions and incorporated them into the concept presentation he was preparing.  Every place that she contributed an idea, he noted this by giving her credit (i.e. this idea was contributed by Marlan Hudson).  He then got her approval for her contributions.  He was pleased to see the smile on her face at the recognition.

Then Henry followed the same process with others.  He intentionally selected those who had a practical sense of the operations but were also known to be hard sells.  He was pleasantly surprised by how important their ideas were to the overall concept.  In fact, their ideas added dimensions that Henry never thought about.  Again the presentation was modified and credit given to each person’s ideas.

Henry was ready for his presentation to the Executive Team.  To say that the Executive Team was stunned would be an understatement.  They had never seen such a well though out proposal.  The recognition of the contributors was the major selling point.  In the past, a favorite rejection strategy was to say:  “That will never be accepted by…”  Henry had countered that strategy completely.  At the conclusion of the meeting, the General Manager and Head of the Executive Team summed up the feelings of everyone on the Executive Team when he said:  “You’ve given us no reason to say no.”

Any new idea will go through numerous adaptations before it is approved.  What Henry did was to seek out ideas for adaptations before the idea was presented for approval.  He also developed champions for the idea from those who would normally oppose it.  Gaining support for new ideas can be greatly enhanced by:

  • Seeking out adaptations before seeking formal approval.
  • Making champions out of naysayers.
  • Giving credit to those who were involved in the idea generation process.

The key to the adaptation process is to leave no doubt in the minds of those who must approve the idea.

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“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
-George Bernard Shaw

How To Use

Useful guides for incorporating messages into discussion.