So, you’ve done the research. You’ve got the case together for your proposal. But you’re still worried. You know it’s the right thing to do, but you’re concerned others may not see it that way. Will you get it signed off?
If you want to find something new you need to look at the familiar in a new way. And shed light in the places you don’t normally go.
What follows is, for us, one proven way to help two sides find the right way forwards.
1 – What do you know that they don’t, (yet)?
If they knew what you know, and thought as you think, they’d reach the same or similar conclusions to you. Yes? So get clear. What is so obvious and powerful to you that may not be obvious to them? What have you experienced that they haven’t? What is the real point of difference between your perspectives? Be prepared to dig deep – what is really going on within you and in your thinking that makes you so sure that this is the right thing to do? You might surprise yourself.
And there’s a Golden Rule – Everyone else in the world thinks differently to you. Sometimes very differently. That doesn’t make anyone wrong. But what you assume to be true or unarguable may not be the same to them. In putting your case across it’s important to really understand where you are coming from, and to share that with them. And…
2 – What do they know that you don’t, (yet)?
It also works the other way. They will have their reasons for their position. So walk the mile in their shoes. Imagine, if you were them, having gone through the experiences they have gone through in their careers, and if you had the responsibilities they have, and if you had to face the challenges they face, how would you think and feel differently? Really get to see and feel things from their perspective. How does that change what’s important? What needs to be covered, respected, handled?
3 – Be prepared to speak their language
Once you understand where potential difference arises from, you need to share it in a way they can easily understand and engage with. If they operate in a world of numbers, then obviously you need to be clear about numbers. If their world is risk, be clear about the risks. If it’s about opportunity, be clear about the possibilities. Do they like a clear vision? Or a structured plan? Do they prefer speed or precision? Do they like words or graphics? Is the case best made in the boardroom, or via a site visit? Or by bringing someone or their story into the room? How can you help the message really land? Will it land more strongly if it’s someone other than you carrying it?
4 – Recognise they are human too
At a recent gathering of Sustainability Mangers and the like I asked what is making the most difference for you right now in getting things approved. The answer initially surprised me, and then was obvious. Independently, several said, ‘Blue Planet’. It is speaking to key decision makers of the wonders of the world. And the impact we’re having. It’s bringing to life how they too want to protect the wonderful, the precious, the beautiful, the fragile, the inheritance we leave to our children. Behind the sternest faces there are real hearts, and people who love to make a difference if they can.
And remember that ‘No’ often means ‘No, not yet’. Everything changes, and timing is important.
Having done this, you may find the way to bridge the gap, so that you can meet and, standing shoulder to shoulder, look at the proposal and decision in a way that leads to agreement for next steps.
Good luck with your proposal.