Remember that time when you prepared for a flawless, powerful, convincing presentation to a group of important stakeholders? You knew you would have to influence their thinking through relevant facts and passion for a strategy you believed to be the best path forward. You may have even felt that no one in the room had done the homework nor had as much knowledge as yourself in this domain.
You were going for a collective ‘yes’, clear support for the idea and your recommendation for action. It may have even seemed you got the ‘yes’ – Heads were nodding, and you were thanked for your work. Perhaps everyone smiled as you left the room and suddenly a sinking feeling overcame your fleeting sense of success as you heard comments like this: “That’s a great piece of work Joan, good luck with it going forward.”
Don’t fool yourself. For those big, important projects and mission critical business goals, getting agreement is never enough. These projects require real alignment from those you depend on to execute the plan.
Alignment takes agreement from “Hey great idea!” to “I’m in this with you.” This means everyone in the room is willing to rethink their own priorities and resource allocation to help make this big idea happen. The best sports metaphor to illustrate this is that you want them out of the stands as spectators, and on the field with you as part of the team, with skin in the game, available to block and tackle, helping take the ball down the field for a winning result.
So why do we so often end our well-prepared presentation accepting a simple positive response and endorsement that our ideas are good and worth pursuing? I think the answer is simple. . . It feels good and perhaps even unexpected to get endorsement for a proposal hard won.
We declare victory too soon and avoid the real acid test of success. . . Is everyone willing to make the tough trade-offs to make this proposal work? This requires moving from happy acceptance to tough dialogue on resources and priorities.
Fear is natural. When we dive into the tough conversations that move from agreement to alignment – we often are concerned that we may lose even basic agreement in the process. Ultimately, your mission-critical goal will require this process. Getting to it faster will make sure your project moves more quickly to success.
If you find yourself hesitant or stuck, give us a call. A short coaching call might be enough to help you move rapidly forward. Give us a call or email us for more information.