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CIO Upfront: Is your influence tool chest missing this effective approach?

Campbell Such | April 7, 2015
Here's an effective, easily implemented, practical approach to try the next time you have to present a proposal.

We often hear about the need to influence others to help achieve our job and business goals. What we don't really hear much about is how we should do that. Here's an effective, easily implemented, practical approach to try the next time you have to present a proposal.

You'll have built a workbench of tools and strategies that have helped you achieve and deliver results in your business and career. Like all driven leaders and managers, you're always on the lookout to improve your success rate.

Every day, people in your organisation are making decisions that your influence could help make better. How many times have you thought, 'That was not the decision I'd hoped for.'

Here are three practical ideas to consider as useful additions to the way you present your proposals.

1. Start with the problem -- not the solution.

2. Limit the number of options you present with your solution.

3. Use the 'Power of contrast' when you deliver the solution options.

Step 1: Start with the problem -- not the solution
Imagine you're walking through a park and you suddenly become aware of a rather large bull eyeing you intently and looking very agitated. It's a real threat so you immediately look for somewhere safe to get away from it.

You spot a gate on the fence nearby. As quickly as you can, without rushing, you move to the gate, open it, get out of the park and shut it after you.

Phew, you're safe ... what a relief! Now ask yourself -- if you hadn't had the problem (agitated bull) would you have even noticed the gate? The solution (the gate) was there all along -- you just didn't know you needed it until you realised you had a problem (the bull).

How can we use this?
When we present the solution without first presenting the problem it's like the other person is seeing the gate but not realising they need it. No matter how well you describe the benefits of the gate, their mind will likely not be as open to its value. Present the problem first -- it will make life much easier for you.

When you're looking to present a proposal, no matter how big or small, always start with the problem and describe it in as much detail as appropriate. Help the other party to understand the risk or the potential loss.

Make it as real as you can, paint pictures to help them to understand the threat it brings, or the opportunity they'll miss out on. You'll know when you've done that properly because they'll be like the person in the park with the bull -- looking for a safe way to deal with a real and present problem.

 

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