Alignment Solutions Newsletter: How to Gain Buy-in Despite Resistance

How to Gain Buy-in Despite Resistance

Alignment solution: Following a proven process that takes a positive approach enables you to win over resistant stakeholders no matter the issue at hand.

Human beings seem hard-wired to resist change, even when we believe the promised outcome will be positive. In the late 1980s, for example, when CEO Fred Smith declared that FedEx would become the first service company to win the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige Excellence Award, I didn’t hear of a single employee who was anything but enthusiastic about this goal. That is, until we found out that it required US to change how we worked. Suddenly the status quo looked a lot more attractive to us.

Like other organizations, public safety agencies are subject to stakeholders’ resistance to change. However, Fire Chief Kingman Schuldt has developed a process that has enabled the Greater Naples Fire and Rescue District to overcome successfully the objections by a variety of stakeholders to a number of initiatives. As a result, the agency has been successful in consolidating multiple independent fire districts as well as developing and implementing an organizational strategy, an employee performance system, and a customer satisfaction survey program. Here are the steps in that process:

  1. Recognize that winning buy-in is a process, not a task or activity.
  2. Take a positive approach.
  3. Have a plan to address negativity.
  4. Identify all relevant internal and external stakeholders.
  5. Tell stakeholders up front what’s in it for THEM to support the change.
  6. Create a procedurally fair process that enables widespread participation.
  7. Identify, research, and vet potential solutions.
  8. Delegate as much responsibility as possible to relevant internal and external stakeholders.
  9. Communicate, communicate, communicate – directly, openly, frequently, and honestly.
  10. Provide positive constructive feedback.
  11. Co-create a big picture of the desired outcome and use it as a touchstone.
  12. Address the political aspects of the issue.
  13. Invest in outside experts when necessary.

By following the above process, over time, your organization can establish a culture that takes a positive approach to all issues, not just those at the strategic level. Such a culture can result in increased employee morale, greater productivity, and delighted customers. Why not make that investment in your organization?

If you’d like details about the above process and some examples of how it works, take a look at my article Using a Positive Approach to Gain Buy-in from Resistant Stakeholders. To find other articles and resources that may be of value to you, I invite you to visit my web site at and my blog at

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© 2016 Pat Lynch. All rights reserved.

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