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Five ways to gain organizational buy-in

This is Rob DeRobertis with the Technology Marketing Center and here are five ways to gain organizational buy-in.

You have a great plan. Your product strategy is perfect. Your new product has a killer value proposition. All you need is to get it to market.

If you are in a large company, you are only half way there and in some cases where you have multi-layers of organizational inertia to overcome, you have a steep hill to climb.

Great product managers know this and have a knack for getting stuff done within an organization.

Here are five ways to gain organizational buy-in.

1) Dictatorship

Depending on your position in the organization, you might be able to dictate what you want to be done. Dictatorships work sometimes but may stifle inventiveness and leadership within the organization. If you take the dictatorship role all the time, you stop people from thinking for themselves and in the long term you will lose the best performers. And then again, sometimes the team needs a dictator to simply move the project forward.  Just use this tactic very wisely.

2) Sledgehammer

The sledgehammer approach is where you use your boss as a sledgehammer to force the organization to follow a path. This can work if there is organizational grid lock but should be used carefully to avoid the dictator approach.

3) Influencing the influencers

There are those people in the company that people go to for recommendations. They have battle scars and are considered experts. They are leaders that people trust. These are the people to convince first. By spending quality time reviewing your plans and incorporating their sage advice, you are on your way to a better path of gaining buy-in. With the influencer on your side, others will follow.

4) Let the data do the talking for you.

Present the data to the organization. Get them to work through the thought process you followed to come up with your recommendations. Present your logic and don't sell. Let the team come to their own conclusions. Conclusions may be different than your initial idea, it may be better. Integrate these perspectives into your plan and re-pitch the proposal.

5) Build a track record

Remember that influencer in item 3? Ask how they became influencers in the first place. It is most likely through years of battles with the organization. They did not achieve this respect overnight.

In many cases it might be useful to take an incremental approach towards gaining buy-in. If the project is very large, don't pitch the large project. Pitch incremental steps that can be cleanly tested before taking the second step. That said, make sure you have the organization focused on the big picture while taking these "baby" steps.




Geoffrey Anderson

Great post. I have often butted my head against just this situation.

I would love to believe that your #4 is viable, but I have never seen it work in practice. For the record, this is my favorite approach to organizational processes, but alas, many organizations have inertial barriers to even stellar data and deduction paths leading to traction.

Depending on the organization, #2 is often the best approach, particularly if your boss is influential, and has the gravitas to move it forward. (this is from years of experience ;-) )


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