From Ideation to Implementation — How to Convince your Coworkers That Your Solutions Are Worth It
Throughout your school years, you are often taught that discovering the solution is the last step in the process of problem solving. Once you’ve figured out how to suitably fix the problem, you’re effectively “done”. You learn pretty quickly once you start working that the real world doesn’t quite operate that way. Taking your insights to the next level of actionable steps requires an artful argument to all collaborators and stakeholders; ironically, this is the hardest step. Being able to convince others that your idea or solution is worth their time, money, and attention is an invaluable skill that has endless utility. Whether you’ve been placed in a situation where you’re trying to convince a customer, a fellow co-worker, or even your CEO, here are three guaranteed ways to get your solution from in your head to on a roadmap this quarter.
Present The Dismal Situation
You’re not going to get much traction with your argument if the person you’re trying to convince can’t fully comprehend the problem that you’re trying to solve, or even acknowledge that a problem even exists. Paint a vivid picture for them, leverage both logic and emotion, and make sure to focus on the aspects of the problem that directly impact them. People are much more likely to invest their time and resources into something they perceive to benefit them. Be sure to present the information in concise and simple ways, with numerous cause and effect relationships, supplemented with indisputably clear and comprehensive data. If possible, show the problem actually affects each layer of your operation in both the long and short term.
Remember the Rule of Three
Research shows us that people like to think in threes when considering multiple solutions, so provide people with three viable options in moving forward. This shows that you’ve thought enough about the problem to have a few different avenues without being messy or overwhelming. You’re forced to hone in on the most important points, which will make them all the more memorable. You can also take advantage of a principle known as the “centerstage effect,” which suggests that you present your preferred solution second out of the three. Present the first solution as extremely minimalist but a positive step in the right direction, the second as thorough but prudent, and the third as slightly ambitious but still within the realm of possibility. People are most likely to default to the middle, when given multiple options. You can observe this effect even in people’s shopping tendencies when they pick jam from a grocery aisle; often, they’ll scan the whole aisle but end up picking the one in the middle of the row.
Make a Call to Action
Be sure to not fall into the trap of forgetting the most important step, telling the person that you’re trying to convince what you want from them! You’ve done your homework, and presented the facts in a digestible way, so don’t fumble it a yard away from the end zone after you’ve blown everyone’s minds. Close the loop by providing an action item, whether that’s their approval to move forward with the project or a guarantee of adequate funding to pursue a solution. I’d also encourage you to remove any barriers that would exist to performing that action, make any follow-up information readily available, and provide a minimal time frame on when you’d need answer. Lastly, give them measurable success metrics so that in the future, they can see how effective your solution was!