How do you introduce new ideas in your organization, and secure buy-in? How can you introduce positive, catalytic change, and get everyone excited and inspired?
It always starts with clarity first and foremost, in that you explain the idea or change you are introducing succinctly. You answer those W’s — What is it, Why are we doing it, Who is the “We” involved, Where and When is it going to happen. Finally, you tackle the big H; how?
However clarity is not always enough. Sometimes we have an idea or change concept which quite frankly, is not that exciting. If we want it to kick in, and truly get us the buy-in we are hoping for, we need to inspire. We need a WOW Campaign. Can you design and run one?
Here a few things to think about in designing and running a campaign:
—Get goofy, be fearless, and take some chances. Risk-taking stimulates energy and sharpens our focus; our awareness of land mines is heightened when we are firing on all cylinders. WOW Campaigns are not for the meek and timid.
—Assault the senses. It is always very effective to choose a strong visual image which is associated with your idea or change concept. When it is seen, it instantly conveys a strong and clear message. Consider the other senses of hearing, touch, taste, and scent, and decide if there are complimentary connections which will reinforce the visual message: perhaps you will choose a song, or slogan which will attach sound to your image. Use these triggers as consistently and pervasively as you can.
—Make it personal for people. You have to answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” for everyone you expect to support your initiative. If they invest their time and energy, what will be their return? You cannot assume they will perceive the same benefits that you do.
—Create buzz. Think about how you can get people talking. Can you tell a compelling story, which others delight in repeating? Start conversations which create a sense of sweet anticipation or wild speculation about “what if…?”
—Don’t leave your buzz to chance: Recruit cheerleaders and champions, and make it very rewarding to be one. You want to be sure that those who are the most vocal about your idea or change concept are not the Doubting Thomas’s and Gloomy Gus’s of the world. If there’s going to be talk, you want positive talk and good buzz. You want optimism and enthusiasm.
—Open doors for others to get involved so it is about “We,” “Us,” and “Our.” Invite as much ownership as possible by asking for help: People love to feel needed and valued, and they love the feeling that they are “in the know” and the insiders driving a big idea. When it succeeds, they want to be able to say, “We did it.”
—Repeat, repeat, repeat. We are living in a world where we are bombarded with a slew of competing messages each day, all vying for our precious attention, and we only have so much attention to give. The age-old counsel of “tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em, then tell ‘em, and then tell ‘em what you just told ‘em” is still very sage advice.
—Bring joy, make it fun and get people to laugh. Play! Joy, fun and laughter open us up. When we are engaged in play and having fun we are more open-minded and willing to do more with others. With change in particular, fun creates an excitement which replaces anxiety and insecurity.
—Catch people doing it right, and be generous in giving credit where credit is due. Recognize that your idea or change concept takes consistency and unity to be inculcated in your organizational culture, and that will involve a lot of people. Acknowledge any hurdles which have been overcome, recognize and reward, celebrate achievements loudly and publicly, and say thank you — a lot.
Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. She is also the founder and head coach of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership.
Rosa’s Previous Thursday Column was: The Most Underutilized Tool for Effective Communication.