Posted: January 19th, 2023
Techniques for Successfully Pitching Idea to Key Stakeholders.
Attached is the article “How to Get Your Idea Approved. The Topic Material “How to Get Your Idea Approved” suggests five key techniques for successfully pitching your idea to key stakeholders, including forming alliances, preparation, positioning your message for the audience, keeping information simple, and answering questions with confidence. Which of these five techniques will be most difficult for you as you work toward problem solution implementation within your organization? Discuss why a particular technique may be difficult, and provide your peers with specific ideas for overcoming obstacles to solution approval and implementation.Techniques for Successfully Pitching Idea to Key Stakeholders.
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When you come up with an idea or proposal that you have confidence in, it is easy to think that getting it approved is a walk in the park. Considering you see the idea as a great one, you assume that everyone else will but that is not always the case. However, the approval of an idea depends more on how you present it to the stakeholders than the idea itself according to Mueller, Melwani, Loewenstein. And Deal (2018). You have to convince them through key techniques such as forming alliances, preparation, positioning your message, keeping the information simple, and confidently answering the questions(Andriof& Waddock, 2017).
Of all the five key techniques for pitching an idea, the one that is most difficult for me is positioning it to the audience. I find it difficult because it is the step where you convince the stakeholders to buy your idea. Here you have to tell them why the idea would be beneficial to them. While you may see the value in your idea, getting other people to see it is quite a hard task. This is the step why you capture their attention and get them to consider believing in your idea.Techniques for Successfully Pitching Idea to Key Stakeholders.
To overcome this challenging technique, it is necessary that you shape your presentation in such a way that it directly speaks to the stakeholders the benefits it will have and how they can reap them. By doing that, you create an interest in them and a positive attitude towards your idea and they can dive more into it. Explain what they stand to gain from it whether it is cost savings, prestige or a foundation to build a legacy.According to me, this is the most critical technique and it plays a major role in getting your idea approved and implemented.
When you have an idea, proposal, or recommendation that you believe in, it’s easy to presume that getting it approved will be a breeze. If you see how great the idea is, won’t everyone else? However, whether an audience accepts an idea is often less about the idea itself than about how you present it. When you need approval, don’t assume that just because it’s brilliant, others will see it that way — convince them.Techniques for Successfully Pitching Idea to Key Stakeholders.
What the Experts Say
When it comes to getting approval, style can be as important as substance. “Words matter,” says John P. Kotter, Chief Innovation Officer at Kotter International, and a professor emeritus at Harvard Business School, whose latest book is Buy-in: Saving Your Good Idea from Getting Shot Down. And many times, all you get is one chance in front of your boss, the Executive Committee, or whatever group will decide your idea’s fate. “Initial impressions are very strong and they can be hard to counteract,” says Michael I. Norton, an Associate Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. It’s not about shoving the idea and its numerous merits down your audience’s throat. Think about how you can carefully usher your idea through the approval process. “The bigger the stakes, the more it’s worth taking the time to get it right,” says Kotter. Here are five ways you can give your proposal a fighting chance.
Form alliances early
Before you present an idea or request resources or approval, it’s a good idea to test it with those responsible for giving the green light. “Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to talk around a little and see what lights people’s eyes up and what makes them cloud over,” says Kotter. This can also surface questions or comments early in the process. Once you’ve tested the waters, you can set up more formal meetings with key stakeholders to ask for their support. These meetings serve three purposes:Techniques for Successfully Pitching Idea to Key Stakeholders.
The more you understand your audience’s feelings about your proposal, the better you can prepare to get it approved.
Prepare, prepare, prepare
How you respond to questions and concerns will play a large role in your success or failure. “Primarily, when you watch someone stumble through an answer, you make an inference that they don’t know what they’re talking about,” says Norton. Display confidence so people trust that your recommendation is a good one. Before you go into your presentation, think through what possible concerns your audience may have. In Buy-In, Kotter and co-author Lorne Whitehead lay out the four basic strategies people most often use to shoot down an idea:Techniques for Successfully Pitching Idea to Key Stakeholders.
Rather than avoiding these attacks, Kotter and Whitehead suggest “letting the lions in” to critique your idea. Don’t marginalize the people who will pull apart your idea. Instead, develop concise, honest responses to each of the tactics they may use. By doing this in advance, you build your self-confidence and can avoid getting anxious or mad when people challenge your idea.Techniques for Successfully Pitching Idea to Key Stakeholders.
Position it for your audience
“You absolutely want to tailor the specifics of your presentation to your audience,” says Norton. How does your idea benefit them? They may stand to gain prestige, cost savings, or an opportunity to build their legacy around your idea. Shape your presentation so that it speaks directly to those benefits and the ways that your audience will reap them. By doing this, Kotter says, you create a positive mindsetaround accepting your idea or proposal.Techniques for Successfully Pitching Idea to Key Stakeholders.
Keep it simple
“The curse of a presentation is that you know much more than your audience about the topic,” says Norton. Focus on one or two main points and avoid getting hung up on trying to prove how much you know. Be judicious in how much data and analysis you present. Overly detailed presentations can distract your audience, making them feel stupid for not following along. Also, they can cause you to simply run out of time. Even if your audience asks for more detail, be sparing. Here, Kotter points out that one of the tactics that people use to kill an idea is to present distracting information or request so many specifics that others get confused.
Answer questions with confidence
When you present a new idea, “People will have all sorts of reactions and will want to discuss those reactions,” says Norton. Many presenters get distracted by trying to discern the intention behind questions or comments. Is he trying to throw me off? Does he hate the idea? Does she not trust my judgment? Don’t bother with trying to uncover motivations. Focus on answering the question as simply and straightforwardly as possible. No matter how aggressive, demeaning, or seemingly silly the question may seem, “You want to come off as a statesman,” says Kotter. “Treat him like a reasonable person with a reasonable question.”Techniques for Successfully Pitching Idea to Key Stakeholders.
If you get a question that is off-topic or potentially derailing, you can answer the question you wished the person asked instead. In a recent whitepaper “The Artful Dodger: Answering the Wrong Question the Right Way,” Norton and his co-author Todd Rogers found that people who “artfully dodge” questions are trusted more than those who respond directly to questions in a less elegant way. “If we know someone is dodging the question, we don’t like it. But we very, very often don’t notice it,” says Norton. You can give an answer that is vaguely related to the question but that confidently returns your audience back to your main point.Techniques for Successfully Pitching Idea to Key Stakeholders.
Principles to Remember
Case Study #1: Build and leverage alliances
Amy Vezzetti was working for a global pharmaceutical company when she took on the role of senior manager of HR for the Asia Region. Each of the countries in the region had their own HR team, but before she and her boss re-located to Hong Kong, there had been little coordination between them. In the first few months of her new role, Amy saw an opportunity to implement a regional approach to 360-degree reviews based on a homegrown solution from Australia. It was affordable, especially in comparison with the off-the-shelf products that some countries were using, and using one system would give global HR access to regional data about performance and evaluation. Amy quickly convinced her boss that it was worth pursuing.
Her next step was to get approval from the individual countries. “We needed to know that all the HR teams were on board,” she said. She met with them individually to present the case. Before the meetings, “we thought through: what is the likely resistance and how can we show them the benefits to their organization, their employees and to the company,” said Amy.Techniques for Successfully Pitching Idea to Key Stakeholders. They then held a region-wide meeting where they presented the formal business case to the country HR managers. “We got sign off because we had already done the alliance building,” she said. But getting their buy-in was only half the battle. They still needed the go-ahead from leadership to fund the project, which required approval from the regional president and all of the individual country managers. She started by casually bringing it up with the regional president. “He wasn’t against it but I didn’t think ‘Great, this is going to be easy,’” said Amy.Techniques for Successfully Pitching Idea to Key Stakeholders.
Amy and her team enlisted the help of the HR directors in each country and asked them to meet with their country managers to review the business case. These meetings helped to get the country managers on board, but also generated useful feedback that they used to adjust the product. They then took the proposal to the regional president and positioned it as a cost-efficient opportunity to support his goals. For example, one of his strategies was to develop the capacity to move talent across the region, and Amy and her team explained how having consistent data would enable that. After hearing the case, he was very supportive and agreed to fund it. The new system was rolled out region wide the following year.
Case Study #2: “Consistent persistence”
In 2007, Matt Rady, the Head of Banking and Financial Service in North America for Macquarie, a global provider of banking, financial, advisory, investment, and funds management services, had a breakthrough idea. At the time he was the head of Macquarie Global Investments and responsible for sourcing and developing new products. He and his team had come up with the idea of expanding their footprint into agriculture. They knew there was strong global demand for food, and a growing rate of protein consumption in Asia. But Macquarie had played in relatively traditional markets and he knew he would have a tough time convincing leadership there was money to be made from buying farms and fattening cattle. Still, he felt the proposition had promise and set about proving its worth.Techniques for Successfully Pitching Idea to Key Stakeholders.
Matt started off by presenting the proposition to his boss. “He was highly skeptical but we didn’t get a blatant ‘no’,” Matt said. Without his boss’s wholehearted approval, Matt knew he would need a champion within the organization to help them push the idea through. They decided to go to his boss’s boss because they believed their proposition was in line with the culture he was trying to build. He had recently told his organization that they should be pursuing BHAGs (big, hairy, audacious goals) and Matt felt the proposition qualified. “We didn’t want to circumvent line management or go behind my boss’s back, so we said, ‘Give us an opportunity to pitch the idea to both of you,” said Matt. This pitch was not to get full approval; rather they needed resources to prove out the concept. They got them.Techniques for Successfully Pitching Idea to Key Stakeholders.
“We knew there would be other skeptics,” Matt said, so they began to gather allies trusted in the organization. In particular, they brought in two retired executives who believed in their idea and who could lend credibility to the proposition. Prior to going to the bank’s executive committee to ask for final approval, they thought through the concerns the committee might have: Would they question whether there would be enough investor demand? Or would they doubt that the company had the right internal capacity? They tailored the pitch based on the issues they thought the committee would find most worrisome. “It’s about being prepared for the unexpected questions,” said Matt.Techniques for Successfully Pitching Idea to Key Stakeholders.
Matt and his team succeeded: the executive committee approved the proposition and the product was launched in 2008. The whole process took 18 months. Matt says that they never got to the point that they thought they should throw in the towel but “we did see that it would be a long road to glory.” He described their approach as “consistent persistence.” The fund is the second largest producer of cattle in Australia, has raised over $750 million globally, and has subsequently spawned other initiatives at Macquarie.Techniques for Successfully Pitching Idea to Key Stakeholders.
Since the mid-2000s, organizational change management and transformation have become permanent features of the business landscape. Vast new markets and labor pools have opened up, innovative technologies have put once-powerful business models on the chopping block, and capital flows and investor demand have become less predictable. To meet these challenges, firms have become more sophisticated in the best practices for organizational change management. They are far more sensitive to and more keenly aware of the role that culture plays. They’ve also had to get much better on their follow-through.Techniques for Successfully Pitching Idea to Key Stakeholders.
Yet according to a 2013 Strategy&/Katzenbach Center survey of global senior executives on culture and change management, the success rate of major change initiatives is only 54 percent. This is far too low. The costs are high when change efforts go wrong—not only financially but in confusion, lost opportunity, wasted resources, and diminished morale. When employees who have endured real upheaval and put in significant extra hours for an initiative that was announced with great fanfare see it simply fizzle out, cynicism sets in.
How to Lead Change Management
DeAnne Aguirre, senior partner with Strategy&, discusses techniques that can help companies transform quickly and effectively.
Our experience with organizational change management suggests that there are three major hurdles to overcome. The first—no surprise—is “change fatigue,” the exhaustion that sets in when people feel pressured to make too many transitions at once. A full 65 percent of respondents to the Katzenbach Center survey reported this as a problem. The change initiatives they suffered through may have been poorly thought through, rolled out too fast, or put in place without sufficient preparation. Fatigue is a familiar problem in organizational change management, especially when splashy “whole new day” initiatives are driven from the top.
Change initiatives also flounder, according to 48 percent of the respondents, because companies lack the skills to ensure that change can be sustained over time. Leaders might set out eagerly to raise product quality, but when production schedules slow and the pipeline starts looking sparse, they lose heart. Lacking an effective way to deal with production line problems, they decide their targets were unrealistic, they blame the production technology, or they accuse their frontline people of not being up to the task. A much better way to solve the problem is to invest in operational improvements, such as process design and training, to instill new practical approaches and give people the knowledge and cultural support they need.Techniques for Successfully Pitching Idea to Key Stakeholders.
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