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Thoughts on Selling Ideas Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


Many even think of our ideas much like we do our childr­en—we highly value them and are very sensitive to how they are treated. But ideas, much like children, have to be nurtured. Therefore, the following thoughts are presented as a roadmap.


Typically ideas that are closely aligned with organi­zat­ional strategic goals such as vision, mission, values, strate­gies, etc., have a better chance of gaining support. The more an idea is directly linked to such goals, the harder it is for managers to say no, and the better chance it has to compete with other ideas. If your idea doesn’t link to organi­zat­ional goals that already have management buy-in, then why is it being presented? As an example, you might believe your organi­zation should pursue ISO9001 regist­ration but it’s unlikely to get support unless you can show how it relates to a larger business strategy. Your manager’s depart­mental goals and plans as well as your own personal develo­pment plans represent other alignment opport­uni­ties. The main point, though, is to avoid pushing an idea. Instead, let it be pulled by a business goal or objective.


While business cases can at times become complex, they can also be simple and straig­htf­orward. Business cases should address three fundam­ental questions:
1. Why are we doing this?
2. What if we did not do this?
3. What are the expected outcomes?

The business case should offer clear logic to staff at all levels of the organi­zation. For management it must describe the rationale for the idea and what can be expected from it. For the other members within the organi­zation, it should also address the reasons behind the idea.


The better you can quantify a benefit in dollars (or more precisely, the dollars gained in excess of dollars cost), the stronger the case. After all, as Philip B. Crosby stressed, the language of business is money, making more money, and not losing money. But, if this is true, why doesn’t everyone do this instin­cti­vely? Usually in the quality profession we are more enamored with the technical aspects of an idea and are not necess­arily skilled in attaching dollar values to proposed changes or ideas. Also, the assump­tions required in the course of dollar­izing an idea are frequently subject to challenge. While preparing for an executive presen­tation a number of years ago my team sought input from the accounting group. That way when it came time to present the idea we were armed with the necessary input to counter any attempts to challenge assump­tions as being overly optimi­stic.


Many of us associate too closely with the idea we are promoting.