7 Keys to Getting Buy-in to Create Change, Illustrated

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Sketch notes from a UN workshop several years ago. I cleaned them up a bit to share here.


Above are some sketch notes from an awesome workshop a few years back. Clearly I got really into this! Creating change is exciting, and assembling a band of allies is key.

7 Keys to Achieving Buy-in

To create meaningful and lasting change in an organization or community, buy-in (getting the group to understand and share your vision) isn’t optional. Here are each of the 7 keys in my notes above, with a little more detail:

  1. Cultivate a group of peers who will listen with an open mind and share their perspectives.
  2. Ensure you are crossing the chasm between early adopters (what gets them excited enough to try your idea?) and the following group (how is your solution going to meet their needs?).
  3. Make it simple with a strong business case. Don’t make people have to work to understand why the change you’re advocating will get results. Be clear and even blunt about the impact.
  4. Build a critical mass. Once you have allies, find ways they can bring new people on board. Once you’ve got a critical mass, your new idea has its own momentum.
  5. Don’t over-promise, but pique interest. In the long-run, over-promising hurts your credibility and undermines your impact. Find an engaging way to talk about attainable results instead, while inspiring with (but not promising) your blue sky vision.
  6. Establish collective ownership. No individual owns a movement. Lasting change belongs to the community and makes individuals feel like they are a part of something larger than themselves. By letting the community contribute insights and collaborate, you are helping them own the change.
  7. Find champions who are open to constructive collaboration. Ideal champions are individuals who interact with a variety of people across communities and will share the idea widely. As collaborators, they’ll not only be more engaged, they’ll also help you improve what you have to offer by sharing diverse perspectives.

Every one of these elements is important to getting buy-in to create change. You may not need to succeed at each one to make change happen, but if you do none of them, creating and sustaining change will fail.