Buy In Methods

How to Get Buy-In to Ensure Results

In order to achieve your objectives for real process improvement you will need to change the business rules, incentives, and measurements and empower employees to get involved in the process of improvement. Do you know how to get buy-in to ensure results?

How to Get Buy-In

If you want to change the culture of your organization then you will need to change the measurements that your organization uses.

Business Measures as Culture

What you measure creates the culture of your organization. People are generally good and want to do the right thing. Even when employees are apparently making bad decisions they generally think they are making good decisions. People do things for a reason. If we measure the wrong things we most likely will get the wrong results and make bad decisions in the process.

Business Measures Affect Behavior

Measurement affects behavior in a profound way. In a manufacturing business inventory turns is one of, if not the most critical factors that drives performance. Yet when we go into a business we typically find the plant manager focused on asset utilization instead of inventory turns. What’s going on here?

There is a false belief that in order to generate the highest return on investment; you must keep all of these assets (investments in plant, machines, and labor) working at 100% capacity. Plant manager’s are typically compensated on their ability to achieve the highest asset utilization possible, even if that means a large build up in inventory or keeping the line running while defects are occurring.

What’s really going on is that the plant manager is sub-optimizing by elevating one element in the business, manufacturing, above all other elements, like the cash cycle or quality. The plant manager’s behavior is driven by the metrics used to measure performance. If you’re still wondering how to get buy-in, the next step is changing how the plant manager measures results.

[Note: To increase your return on assets you only need to focus on those assets that are constraining your manufacturing cycle. Only your constraints need to be at 100% utilization, all others can be at something lower than 100%.]

People Don’t Create Defects, Systems Do

Systems are made of up of our objectives, metrics, policies and procedures. If we set the wrong objectives, use the wrong metrics and document the wrong things, then we will get the wrong results. Yet we have a tendency to blame the people. The great quality leader W. Edwards Deming said, “People don’t create defects — systems do”. The management procedures you use make up your management system.

Buy-in Methodology

Gaining Understanding, Commitment, and Action

Buy-in is the process of gaining people’s understanding, commitment, and action in support of your goals. Without buy-in you are almost certain to fail. You can’t just dictate results. People will resist and even try to stop your program. After all, without buy-in you have not really convinced anyone that it is in their interest to participate. So, how do we do this? Do you know how to get buy-in?

Strategic Stories of a Positive Future

Use stories. The best way to achieve buy-in is to use strategic stories of a positive future. In other words, strategically design, target, and deliver a strategic story that projects a positive future. It is all about the listener. They need to know what’s in it for them. Address their agendas. Present your goals from their perspective and you are halfway to achieving your goals already.


The Process to Get Buy-In for Change


Measure the pain in your customer’s world. Identify as many pain points as you hear by talking to them about the situation you want to change.

It’s about them, not about you. You have to understand the pain the other person is having if you want to get buy-in for change. You might think they would be grateful to you for reliving their pain and just happily go along with your ideas but it just doesn’t work that way.

People don’t know your ideas will work. The pain they are experiencing today might be better than the pain they don’t know about tomorrow with your ideas. So you have to overcome their dissatisfaction with the status quo. If there is no pain or dissatisfaction then there will be no motivation on their end for you to get buy-in for change.

In sales, this is called uncovering unrealized needs. That means finding pains they did not realize they have. The concepts to get buy-in are similar to selling. But, we are not selling our ideas.

In a customer setting, you are interpreting a customer’s needs, defining a solution, and helping that customer see how your solution is a means to achieving their needs. Therefore, they get behind and work on the action steps in your solution, oriented toward the goal. This is true leadership.

We need to understand their paradigm of how they think. A paradigm acts like a filter. If their paradigm does not fit with your ideas, they don’t hear you. That means that some type of education may be needed.

Think of the people in the change situation as your customer…The ones that will benefit from the change are your customers.

Common Pain points include: not making enough money, not having enough time, or work is hard.


The simplest way to get buy-in and convert a pain into a gain is to take each pain and think of the opposite. The opposite of each pain is the gain. The gains are the benefits of the solution. Show the improvements in your customer’s world after the change. Convert each pain point into a benefit.

Common Gain points include: making more money, having more time, or working easier.


You are interpreting customer’s needs, defining a solution, and helping that customer see how your change solution is a means to achieving their needs. Therefore, they get behind and work on the action steps in your change, oriented toward a common goal.

Demonstrate measurable benefit to your customer. Demonstrating the benefits of the change helps to cement the gains in the customers mind. They have to see it to believe it. Once they believe it then you are one step closer to your goal to get buy-in for change.

Common Benefit points include: use your money to buy or save, use your time for recreation or leisure, or easier work makes the work more enjoyable.


Positive Future Vision

You may think that if you want to get buy-in you have to ‘win people over’ to your point of view. No, that’s not it.

It’s more about you understanding your audience, and finding a path that brings them to the positive future that you want for them, and that will benefit them. In order to get buy-in you must focus on understanding, then leadership.

Have you walked in their shoes? The make-up of a positive future depends upon your audience’s point of view. Truly understanding them first is the key.

Popular Positive Future Visions

Martin Luther King: “I have a dream!”

JFK: “We will put a man on the moon by the end of the decade!”


We think in stories, filled with pictures. So, we must design, target and deliver a story that projects a positive future after the change. It’s a story that your customer will want to hear. It’s a story about the future. Your story needs to include your change goal in terms of your team’s (Customers) needs. Those pain/gain elements we found earlier in steps 1 & 2.

Your story must project a positive future from step 4. And finally, your story must show people why achieving your positive future is beneficial for them, and that will help you get buy-in. Then, you can tell them how they can help you reach a positive future.

Popular Positive Future Stories include the Martin Luther King “I have a dream!” speech. Mr. King explains the details of his vision of the positive future, a future without prejudice, a future of equality. Details of the future must be explained to paint a vivid picture of the future in everyone’s mind.


Concrete Steps

Develop a project plan of concrete steps to realizing the positive future. Reason may lead you to conclusions, but emotions get you to take action. Your Intellect drives your understanding, while your Emotions drive your actions. But your employees don’t want promises. Concrete steps have to be real steps that the organization is really taking.

Your concrete steps make up your project plan for realizing the change, delivering the customer benefits, and making a win-win scenario for everyone.

Concrete steps are specific to a vision. Taking a man to the moon meant funding, skills, technical resources, logistics, and various details to be ordered in specific steps.


Focus on people to take the first step. Use vivid, real-life examples (worth more than facts or figures). Charts, facts, and figures focus on reason, while people are making decisions based on emotion. Ask for commitment to the first step.

Call to Action

Buy-In Ensures Good Results

To set objectives for real process improvement, we need to change the business rules, incentives, and measurements used within the organization. To ensure the changes are effective, we need everyone’s buy-in to the change program. Only if you empower employees to get involved in the process of improvement can you truly realize the goals and objectives you set. Now you know how to get buy-in!

Do you need help developing your positive future? Do you know how to get buy-in from others for your great ideas? Contact Bizmanualz for assistance in your next Lean ISO quality Management System Project.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.