Getting and keeping momentum behind big projects in complex organisations is tough.

Attracting the quality of buy-in that actually leads to agreement, cooperation and action is a vital skill but what I keep discovering is that few people, even senior leaders, know how to do this.

I see the same mistake made over and over again.

It’s a mistake that leads to frustrations, failures, delays and indifference.

It wastes time, money, and effort and squanders goodwill.

So what’s the mistake?

Well it’s curious – You are doing something too well.

Because you are diligent you prepare for your meeting or presentation by carefully putting together all the information and arguments you think will convince others. So far so good.

Then you tell people all that information hoping that it will convince them and that you will get a big fat YES at the end. All the time you are hoping that you won’t get too many difficult questions.

This is called the BIG YES technique and it is a high-risk strategy. What if they say NO or worse still you get hardly any reaction at all. And all your work falls into a black hole of indifference.

The ‘Small Yes’ Technique

There is a better way and it’s called the ‘Small Yes’ technique.

The ‘Small Yes’ technique means you engage people at each stage through achieving a series of small ‘yeses’ by:

  • Checking their response
  • Inviting their contributions
  • Answering their questions
  • And agreeing next steps

But all the time you remain in control so that you don’t go down blind alleys or get caught up in unnecessary details.

You move together from agreement to agreement. People feel they have been part of the solution and therefore have ownership and accountability for delivering the result.

So instead of debilitating setbacks you achieve massive leaps forward.