Last week I thought I would be risky and do something "innovative". Generally companies love innovation - it's one of those business-ish words that sounds really good and implies we're making more money.
I was working on a presentation to deliver to accounts and was experimenting with a way new way to present it digitally. I emailed the concept around, and well, apparently my little idea was a little too risky to be considered innovation... probably too many bureaucratic rules broken or something like that. I got an email back with several reasons why it wouldn't work and why we couldn't do it this way, and so on and so on.
Of course my initial reaction is to get defensive and fire back some snotty unfounded response, but I restrained myself for once. I took a deep breath, spent three minutes reviewing Jon's post on "Pushing Decision Making Down", and drafted an email response that I didn't even send until the next morning.
It paid off and my idea was accepted. Here's how I convinced management that I was right:
- Take A Deep Breath: Control the urge to fire back a quick response that isn't well thought out. Take a walk down the hall, go grab a Coke, play a game of Sudoku... whatever you need to do.
- Review Management's Reasoning: Management's negative response will generally include 1-3 reasons why you can't move forward with your idea or proposal. Write down those reasons - you will need to speak directly to them in your response and this list will serve as your outline.
- Back It Up: If you're going to convince management of anything it's going to be done with numbers and logic. Fill in the gaps around the outline you created and speak to the concerns by backing up your reasoning with valid statistics (money saved, dollars earned, etc.) and reasons based on productivity, efficiency, and valid comparisons to related examples.
- Write A Polite Introduction: Once you've nailed the facts, go back to the top and kick off your response with a short but polite acknowledgment of the reasonings you were given for denial. Something to the effect of, "Thanks for your note regarding my idea, and I appreciate your concerns. I've been considering your thoughts and wanted to respond to them as still I feel this can be an effective solution...."
- Proof And Send: Whenever you're having to fight for approval it's best to double-proof your words... make sure you haven't said anything antagonistic and that you've stuck to clear and concise facts. Once you're done, send away!