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Decision-Making: Selling the Idea

decision making innovation Sep 07, 2022

While a foundational aspect of innovation is generating and vetting ideas . . . ideas alone are not enough to lead to action. Even when you've narrowed it down and decided on the idea you want to pursue, you likely have one more step before setting the action plan in motion: “Selling the Idea.”

Ideas that introduce innovation into either a challenge or an opportunity require broad support. You can include many voices into the ideation process, yet, if you haven’t included decision makers along the way, the idea might fall flat. There is a point in the innovation to decision making process where you will need to “pitch” the idea so that approvals, resources, and support are made available to move the idea to action. 

Before you move from decision to implementation you will want to make sure commitment is in place. So, here's a few ways to help you “sell the idea” and gain the commitment needed.

Seek Commitment Not Just Agreement

If the goal is consensus some may feel “peer pressure” to give in and move forward. They acquiesce with reluctance and their support may wane over time. Avoid “selling” just the idea and asking them to agree with it. Instead, sell the potential outcome(s) of the idea and ask for their commitment to move forward. NOTE: If they had a voice in crafting the solution and participated in debating ideas along the way you will have a better chance of gaining commitment even if they don’t agree.

Try an Experiment Before a Substantial Change 

People can be change wary and become resistant to considering substantial changes. Especially if they have been through failed change before or if they feel their current way of operating is at risk. To push against the tendency for maintaining the status quo, consider trying an experiment. Clarify how you will know if the experiment worked, how it will be evaluated and how it will still foster innovation even if the change doesn’t initially work out. Experimenting puts your team in a better position to introduce a substantial change that will have a longer-lasting impact.

"Success is where preparation and opportunity meet." ~Bobby Unser

Have a “Back Pocket” Idea

If you’re selling only one idea and hit some resistance from decision makers, then all the effort into ideating and bringing people through innovation is lost when the decision is met with a flat, “No.” You already have multiple ideas you vetted in the innovation process, so have a back up idea shined up and ready to share if your first idea falls flat. It’s likely that more than one of your ideas can achieve the same outcomes. Finding the idea that connects with decision makers is the one that is most likely to generate commitment to the outcomes desired.

Prepare Your Presentation

In addition to getting your idea ready to “sell”, you may also want to brush up on your presentation skills. Great ideas can often be lost in the presentation. So, know what to cut and what to share as you prepare. Give the presentation a test run on a team member or one of the decision makers to see how it flows and what is missing or could be improved. 

Next Steps

In our next blog in this series let’s explore HOW to actually run an experiment that can generate more support for the long-lasting, substantial change. What secrets have you found to gain commitment for an idea? How has that commitment contributed to the success of implementing the idea? Comment below or send me an email. I’d love to hear from you.

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