Gaining Agreement: Why Good Ideas Don't Make It And Bad Ideas Do
Author: Garrison Wynn
Why is it that some of the best ideas are never considered and idiotic concepts that we know will fail are? How did AT&T decide to focus on the picture phone and sell off the rights to the cellular telephone? Research clearly showed that the number-one reason people placed a phone call instead of showing up in person was speed and convenience. The number-two reason was they did not want to be face-to-face with the person they were calling. If you are at home on the phone in your underwear, do you really want people to see you? (OK, some of you do, and you know who you are, but let's move on.) Why did it take so long to get squeeze-bottle ketchup? Squeeze-bottle mustard was on the market 20 years earlier! Were there really people who believed that ketchup in a glass bottle was sacred and could never sink to the lows of a seemingly misguided mustard?
The issue is that some of us are just much better at getting people to agree with us than others. It's why it took so long for people to wear seat belts and yet pet rocks sold instantly. We interviewed some of the most persuasive people in the Wynn Solutions top-performers research pool and found some interesting information about getting people to see things your way regardless of how ineffective your ideas may be:
- Find out what people value most before you start talking. People are much more likely to listen to your ideas if you can prove you know what's important to them first (agreeing that it's important will also help a lot).
- Make sure your ideas are clear. It does not matter how smart you are if no one knows what you're talking about. You may need to have your top expert teach their concepts to your top presenter. A lot of great ideas are not considered because people don't want to admit they don't get it.
- Make sure you can explain the basic value in about 20 seconds. People buy into what they can understand quickly. "The longer it takes you to explain value, the more people think you don't have any." Show how it will make the person(s) you are talking with look good personally. What's in it for them?
- Show the similarities first and differences second. The main reason people don't want to change is that nobody wants to be a "senior beginner." When things change, people are afraid their expertise will have less value—they may not be as important to the organization as they used to be. Show how the new way is similar to the old way first, and then the new way feels more valuable.
Our research showed that ideas have to be more than great. They have to get supported by humans as they make their way toward implementation. Some pretty weak agendas get moved forward because they are presented 10 times better than an agenda that was …well … 10 times better.