buy in kotter

Buy-In, by John Kotter

A great idea is in fact a bad one without any support. Buy-in is critical to save good ideas from getting shot down.

Everyone needs buy-in from someone. Founders are no different; they too need lots of buy-in.

Buy-in from potential investors. Buy-in from new employees…from early customers…from partnerships. You get the point…

Buy-In, by John Kotter, is for anyone who’s interested in how well-planned arguments can be strategically used to derail seemingly well-intentioned ideas, and then more importantly how to effectively counter those arguments.

In reading Buy-In you’ll also start seeing these strategies all around your daily life, just as I did with the recent GOP attacks toward Obamacare.

Step 1 – Identify Disruption Strategies

Kotter offers a very easy-to-follow recipe of how buy-in can be disrupted. While there are an infinite number of real-world possibilities, they all boil down into four main attack types:

  1. Fear Mongering
  2. Delay
  3. Confusion
  4. Ridicule/Character Assassination

Note that we’re not addressing the psychology behind why people create the attacks, but rather learning how to recognize them for what they are.

So for example, when someone tries to shut down your proposal by raising irrational concerns and risks, you see they’re using Fear Mongering and can adapt appropriately.

Step 2 – Counteract the Disruption Strategies

Once you’ve identified the disruption strategies you can then think about how to uniquely counter each of them.

While there are a multitude of counter options, again they can be summarized by three key steps to diffusing attacks on your idea:

  1. Capture people’s attention with an open, inclusive conversation. Then,
  2. Win over their minds with common sense. And finally you’ll be in a position to,
  3. Win over their hearts.

24 Examples of Real Attacks & Responses

Kotter wraps up with twenty-four of the most common argument types and how to diffuse each of them. They’re very practical – here are some tips you can start using right away:

Don’t get caught up refuting the details of the initial attack. Remember that these attacks are incorrect, sensational, illogical, or all of the above! By acknowledging them with a counter-argument you’re giving them the validity they don’t deserve.

Plan ahead. If you revel at people who always seem to champion their causes the best, remember that they’ve likely spent hours planning for possible attacks and cogent responses to those attacks.

Use common sense examples, not facts, data or lists. I’m especially bad at this, but recognize that common sense is much easier to get your point across quickly and in a way that’s super easy to understand.

How the GOP Used These Disruption Strategies on the ACA

The best part of this book is seeing these strategies put to use in real-life.

Let’s take the ACA, which the Republicans are strongly opposed to and working very hard to disrupt buy-in. This is a big issue for the party, so they’re using all four disruption strategies:

1. Fear Mongering

If the ACA passes it’ll never get repealed, leaving us with “entitlements forever“. Or so the GOP wants people to think. Forever is a very strong word, especially in the context of change. People are naturally averse to change and if you take away the possibility that the change can ever be undone, it’s even more worrisome.

2. Delay

The GOP has also blatantly tried to delay the ACA by pushing it back another year. This would serve the Republicans by allowing more time for other issues to arise that might kill the initiative altogether.

3. Confusion + Character Assassination

The term “Obamacare” is a one-two punch in itself. Instead of referring to it as the “Affordable Care Act”, the name “Obamacare” creates confusion about what the bill even does. In addition, by directly linking it to President Obama it makes it much more likely that someone who might normally support the bill would disapprove of it simply because they don’t like the President.

If you’ve read this far you’ll definitely enjoy Buy-In. Get it here on Amazon.