37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
If you ever lend a hand at PTA meetings, church, volunteer groups, or wherever good new ideas are most needed, you know how often important ideas die quietly. Kotter and Whitehead know this too, and they want to help you guide new ideas through resistance so those who need them can hear them. Though this book comes from a business press, more than just business people need what lies between these covers.
Kotter and Whitehead point out that most resistance comes not from the crowd who votes on your idea, but from a few heel-draggers. You need not to persuade this small, vocal minority, who are largely set in their ways, but to answer their objections in a way that wins the hearts and minds of your silent audience. Once you accomplish that, you have begun to win support for your idea, or at least to get it heard.
To do that, you must recognize the core attack, and how it can be deferred without sinking to your opponents' level. Kotter and Whitehead distill routine snipes and grouches into four basic angles, and twenty-four basic attacks. If you can grasp what method your opponents use, and why, you can defuse tedious baseless resistance and keep your idea in play. And if it stays in play, it has a chance of a fair hearing.
This book is not a complete rhetoric for ideological disputes. It will not teach you how to bolster weak ideas, repair flawed ideas, or defend bad ideas. It focuses on how heel-draggers quietly kill even the best ideas, and how you can keep that from happening to you. Even if you don't work in the high-stakes business world, study this book if you ever float ideas. Hey, it's better than burying one before it's truly dead!
38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
QUICK SUMMARY: This brief, read-it-in-a-day book identifies four general ways your good ideas get shot down, and it offers ways on how to effectively deflect challenges that arise when you present your ideas. The book is brief -- too brief -- and left me wishing it had more and better-developed content and examples of the authors' strategies put to use.
BACKGROUND: I'm a big John Kotter fan. I was introduced to him in my graduate studies in leadership, so I jumped at the chance to read and review his new book. But I was somewhat disappointed in this book because I kept thinking of ways I'd have liked this book improved. It's okay, not great, not as good as Kotter's Leading Change book.
WHAT I LIKED:
- Extremely easy to read and understand. I finished reading the entire book in 24 hours, and I'm a very slow, methodical reader.
- Identifies four general approaches that others use to sabotage your ideas, and offers helpful strategies for defending against those approaches.
- The authors used a story format for the first half of the book, reminiscent of what Patrick Lencioni did in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable. I enjoyed the story in this book, but the storyline in Buy-In isn't nearly as engaging or as well-written as the storyline in Lencioni's book.
- The over-arching message is easy: always show respect to others (always!) and be prepared for how people may try to subvert your ideas. Simple (to remember).
WHAT COULD BE BETTER:
There were too few real-life examples of these defensive strategies put to use. When real-life examples were given, they were obscure examples familiar to these authors, but they did not employ people and companies that everyone has heard of. The examples given should have used very well-known people, events and organizations, so we could also use those same examples when trying to rebuff our own attackers.
Many, if not most, of the 24 attacks were explained with just too little information. Example: In Attack #2, a defense against the attack, "Money is the issue..." says to point out examples where great things were done without money, like, say, Steve Jobs working in a garage, or George Washington and an underfunded army. Well, okay, but maybe I don't know those stories well enough to recount them to someone. I wish these authors would have developed these stories they allude to with quite a few more pages, so I don't have to go elsewhere to fill-in the blanks after reading their book. I felt this way throughout my reading of this book.
I would have liked to have had a whole section at the end of the book, after they've equipped the reader, where I could read an attack scenario, identify it, then try to think through what I'd do if I faced such an attack. Tear-out cards with the 24 attacks and responses printed on them would have been a nice feature, too (although the authors say we don't really need to memorize these 24 attacks, I get the sense they really do want us to know them all).
I like that John Kotter and Lorne Whitehead are trying to equip people to advocate and defend their own good ideas. The book has a worthwhile message, briefly delivered. If you haven't read Kotter's Leading Change book firstly, do that before you buy this book, as I think Leading Change is a much better book overall.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
In their preface to this book, authors Kotter and Whitehead succinctly present the challenge of implementing good ideas. The amount of thought and education put into the creation of good ideas today often outweighs the knowledge and instruction on implementing those very ideas. For example, the field of strategy has made huge advances in the last twenty years, but the field of strategy implementation has made far less progress. It would be great if good ideas that one champions on and off the job could simply stand on their own, but unfortunately this is not the case far too often. The authors remind the reader that this book is not about persuasion, general communication skills, or all the methods one might use to create buy-in.
The single method presented here to build support for a good idea is rarely used (or at least used well) and does not necessitate extraordinary rhetorical skills or charisma. The ideas that the authors offer are partially based on observations of Lorne Whitehead over the years as an entrepreneur, executive, administrator, and professor at the University of British Columbia, as well as the continuous research being conducted by John Kotter at Harvard Business School and the body of knowledge on the topics of leadership and change that has been published in several of his past works. According to the authors, the method they present is counterintuitive because it shows respect for all and uses simple, clear responses that can turn attacks to one's advantage because it focuses on capturing attention and eventually building buy-in.
The first third of the book presents this method in the form of a story - a story that focuses on a small band of individuals comprising a citizen's advisory committee in defense of an idea before a crowd of seventy-five individuals over a span of a few hours time. The authors point out, however, that there are obviously many different settings in which this story could have taken place, and they believe that the method used to defend the idea is the best regardless of situation. The second part of the book provides an analysis of this story, and later provides twenty-four responses to twenty-four attacks that will not silence valid criticism but will stop the killing of good ideas by verbal bullets.
Kotter and Whitehead are careful to point out that many of these attacks might be innocently raised by individuals who are not explicitly trying to kill the objects of the attacks, but this does not mean that they are any easier to wrestle. In outlining their method following the case study story, this reviewer was especially influenced by the assertion that overcoming attacks with tons of data, or logic and more logic, should not be attempted, and that the opposite should be the goal. This reviewer could not help being reminded by the Seinfeld episode where character George Costanza is influenced by character Jerry Seinfeld when he said "If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right". Of course, the authors are not proposing that this blind philosophy should be followed, but it is probably closer than one might think.
The authors categorize the four types of attacks as confusion, fear mongering, death by delay, or ridicule and character assassination, and they indicate that it helps the idea generator to realize that attacks boil down to this small number because individuals often get bogged down by weighty lists that try to be comprehensive but end up being unmanageable. The twenty-four attacks and responses are grouped according to the implicit attitude of the attacker, which are essentially (1) the problem the idea generator is attempting to solve does not exist, so the idea is not needed, (2) the problem that is being presented admittedly exists, but the solution being proposed by the idea generator is not very good, and (3) the problem does indeed exist, and the solution that the idea generator proposes might actually be a good one, but it will not work in the case at hand. Well recommended text. The book is laid out well, focused, and lacks the tangents that so many texts seem to possess.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2010
Are you one of those people who thinks that other people are reasonable and can be convinced by argument? Or are you one of those people who has noticed that they're not, but is at a loss on how to deal with it?
This book is for you. It presents a simple and straightforward guide on dealing with objections and objectors, first in the form of an extended scenario and then as an explanation of the principles and practical instruction on how to put them into action.
Perhaps people who have better intuitions on how to handle people in discussions don't need a book like this, but to those of us on the Spockier side of things, this is gold.
The book is very short - less than 180 pages of text with large print - so you may not feel it is worth the price charged. That's for you to judge. I like a book that doesn't waste time getting to the point. And it's a tool, though quite an entertaining one.
Highly recommended if you want some help in doing better in meetings and other places where you have to put your good ideas forward and get support (buy-in) from others.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I was a little reluctant to invest time in this book because I was concerned it would be a bunch of platitudes about office life and dealing with difficult coworkers. I was pleasantly surprised that this book is really a very pragmatic approach to group persuasion.
When swaying a group you really need more than 51%. You may win the vote with that, but you won't have the kind of majority that creates the kind of enthusiasm that enlists go-getter allies. This book frankly addresses commonsense ways to deflect criticism and turn everything said in opposition to your idea into a way to get onlookers really listening to you. In any group you're likely to have a small but vocal group of critics, and many of them you won't win over. Who often matters is the silent majority listening to the debate.
If you are looking for one-on-one persuasion skills, as in belly-to-belly selling, I'm not sure this is the right book for you... but if you need to win over groups: city council, school board, student government, lodge members and so forth, this book is a righteous (as in good, not self-righteous or obnoxious) resource.
It's a quick read, too. I wasn't bowled-over but "common sense" advice rarely does that - it compensates by being easier to incorporate into your behavior... so as a read I give it a four, but the method and thinking behind it is top-notch, as in FIVE :)
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I think anyone who has advanced a new idea has suffered through trying to defend it against the naysayers, the fear mongers and the resistant to change group.
This book gives some very useful information on how to deal with all the different people who are all too eager to shoot down any new idea.
The book is divided into two sections. The first section tells the hypothetical story of a new proposal for the Centerville library. The story assigns fictional names to the types that oppose most new ideas. The story deals with the serious matter of defending an idea but does so in a somewhat humorous manner.
Part two of the book takes the 24 most common seen objections to new ideas and discusses specific ways to diffuse the objections. Most of the points the authors advance are somewhat counterintuitive. We generally think the best thing to do is to silence or ignore those who raise objections to new ideas. The authors point out that this is not the best way to deal with objections.
Your goal is not to defeat the objectors but to win the hearts and minds of the majority of your audience so they will actively support your idea. The meat of the book can be summarized in a few bullet points.
"Let the attackers into the discussion
Keep your responses clear, simple, crisp and full of common sense
Show respect constantly. Don't fight, collapse or become defensive.
Prepare. The bigger the presentation, the more preparation is needed."
There is also some good information in the appendix concerning large scale change.
The book is fairly short, and is an easy, quick read. The points are well thought out, but I believe the authors had to stretch the material out to make it a book.
The information is quite valuable because most people have never been taught to welcome the objections and how to effectively deal with them. Read it through and then keep it handy and refer back to the lessons before your next new idea presentation. It will really help you win the approval and the support you are seeking.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
My, could I have used this book five years ago! In some ways, coming up with a great idea is easier than shepherding it through the inevitable approval process. But gaining the needed support for a proposal doesn't have to be as hard as it often turns out to be. After decades of research, the authors have concluded there are only four basic attack strategies used against good new ideas, and there are also only a few techniques needed to successfully counter them all.
The book is a quick interesting read, with helpful examples and stories, and the key points are well summarized for easy recall. I particularly enjoyed the list of 24 attacks typically attempted against good new ideas, and the suggested responses to each. I recognized many of them immediately as having been attempted against the project that is my day job, and was pleased to note that many actual responses have been in harmony with what is recommended in this book.
In particular, I agree with the book's non-obvious recommendations to let attackers join fully in plan discussions and take their best shots at derailing it, while treating everyone with respect, making responses simple, and keeping responses aimed at the whole audience.
This book is a keeper. Highly recommended!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
On first glance this seems like yet another book about how to use trickery and mind games to get people to agree with you. However most of those books get you what you want in the short term while sacrificing long term relationships. This book is a refreshing counter to all those. Buy-In is the Miss Manners guide to getting a group to agree with your ideas. Kotter and Whitehead work from the basic premise that people are generally good and should always be respected and too often good ideas get tanked by people who don't show you the same respect.
The book starts with a scenario that first shows what happens in the usual situation: you present your ideas and they got show down. The second scenario shows how this situation could have been handled differently and leads to an ultimate success. Initially these scenarios were annoying because they were too cute and too contrived. Really, calling a main character Pompus Meani?
However I persevered until the end of the book and realized these scenarios did give a great framework to understand the concepts of what are the common ways good ideas are lost in a group setting and what can be done to counter these arguments. Weeks after reading the book, these colorful character names helped me recognize the tactics of others in the room and I was able to swiftly dodge them to get my point across.
After presenting the initial scenarios, the common attacks to your ideas are broken down into three broad categories that are easy to memorize and then further subdivided into 24 smaller quick tips. Starting with the 3 broad categories made learning the 24 small tips more effective. Combined with their initial scenarios, I couldn't look at group dynamics the same way again after reading the book. Time and time again I kept seeing these 3 categories and their 24 derivatives. Most often, I wasn't presenting an idea, but I could quickly see an idea shot down for failing to counter these 24 types of attacks.
This book is a great read for anyone who is on a board or any type of committee. Your ideas may not always be best, but learning these techniques allow your ideas to be viewed for what they are.
After reading the book, keep this on the shelf and give the final chapters a quick read before presenting your ideas!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
All of us have had good ideas that started out as "no-brainers" and ended up being bush-wacked, submarined, railroaded, or delayed into oblivion. Save yourself time, disappointment and considerable frustration by picking up this book. It is written in 3 parts: (1) a short story on a team trying to sell a new public/private partnership to purchase and install computers in a library, (2) a explanation of the methods used to overcome the objections and (3) a deeper dive into the 4 main objections and the 24 sub-categories of attacks. My assessment of the book:
* Short book. 180 pages (double spaced, large text)
* Very readable, Conversational tone - quick, light can be read in several hours
* Well written, organized and to-the-point - supported by simple examples
* Will remain on my reference shelf as a resource
* Applicable for profit and non-for profit situations - applicable to anyone has to sell an idea to a group
* This book will not help you create a good idea or refine it. It helps you sell your idea and helps you defend it against 4 common attack strategies ("Fear Mongering, "Death by Delay", "Confusion", "Ridicule and Character Assassination") supported by further exploration of 24 sub attack strategies and responses.
* The authors suggest 4 elements in the response strategy: (1) Let the attackers into the discussion. Do not avoid or eliminate dissent. Embrace the enemy. (2) Keep your responses clear, simple, crisp and full of common sense (avoid the deluge of logic, facts and data), (3) Show respect constantly. Don't fight, collapse or become defensive. Take the high road no matter how nonsensical the objection is. (4) Prepare, brainstorm, rehearse. The bigger the presentation, the more preparation is needed."
In the preface, the authors state that "we hope you will find our story engaging, memorable, whimsical and fun. But as you read the tale, don't underestimate the deep seriousness of either the subject or our intent. Whimsy is a means, not an end." - - Mission accomplished.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Co-authored by John Kotter, the world's foremost authority and author on several books on leadership and change, this short book has 3 main parts:
1. a common scenario of a proposal under a severe attack,
2. a method to handle such attacks, and
3. a cookbook of 24 variations of proposal attacks along with the suggested counter-attacks.
The key value of this book is two-fold, as it
1. teaches that confronting the opposition - instead of avoiding it - can be productively used to promote your proposal,
2. distills all the attacks proposals to four basics: ad hominem, death-by-delay, fear mongering, and confusion.
Specifically, the four basic kinds of attacks are summarized like this:
1. Ad hominem - Your enemies slam your reputation and credibility.
2. Death-by-delay - They push discussion of your idea into the future so your proposal loses urgency.
3. Confusion - They ask so many questions that confidence in your proposal dies.
4. Fear mongering - They catalyze irrational anxieties about your idea.
The book is full of examples of how standard attacks like "we've been successful, so why change?", "we tried and it did not work," "this is too expensive," "have you thought of these other problems?", "you are abandoning our core values," "our (people, clients) will never understand this idea" ... map right into some combination of the four basic attacks and what's the best approach to handle them.
This book may have oversimplified the proposal review process to a single encounter (attack #11 on p. 135). In real-world situations, a prudent and result-oriented executive will work hard to prepare the ground by not only inviting the opposition, but also by building consensus about the existence of the problem, about the pain of that problem and the value of a solution if there was one, and about the difficulty of finding it. The skillful executive will make sure that the proposal is a result of teamwork and the consensus for the proposal is built before that proposal is presented to the debate (an adaptation of the standard response, same page).
Overall this is an engaging and a highly educational book that can be used by anybody, from professional consultants, to executives, to sales people, to managers, to students, to spouses. I plan to keep it close for reference.
Yuval Lirov, Medical Billing Networks and Processes - Profitable and Compliant Revenue Cycle Management in the Internet Age