You were born to be a player. You were meant to be here. This moment is yours.
– Herb Brooks
Woohoo—it’s time to kick off the project! Your team has developed a plan to get to the goal and is chomping at the bit to get started. In Enneagram Change Management Step 7, the team spreads their excitement to all stakeholders and enthusiastically promotes the plan to get the resources — people, tools, money and time — to embark on their mission. Put your best cheerleaders forward and get the buy-in to proceed.
Excerpt from Teamwork 9.0
Now that your team has identified the best path to the goal, your problem-solving team should be revved up and ready to charge down that path. However, the broader group of stakeholders will not be at the same excitement level yet. Now is the time to inspire that wider group—including the executive sponsors—to the same level of enthusiasm as the team. It is time for the team to sell the plan to all the stakeholders. It is time to tap the dynamic of Enneagram Type 7.
People in sales or political roles will understand this phase of problem solving well. A salesperson or politician must present a story with a bright future and receive permission to proceed and create that future for their customers or constituents. Step 7 of problem solving is similar.
When I facilitate problem-solving groups during Step 7, I recommend that the team create a presentation that tells a story. The first part of that story sets the stage: you remind your stakeholders of the pain they are experiencing because of their daunting problem. To make this more dramatic, let’s call the problem the dragon. Then, you introduce your heroes, the team of highly credible and talented folks ready to face the dragon. You may want to share some examples of havoc wreaked by the dragon, and some stories of early, unsuccessful attempts to slay the dragon. Then, you will want to share your heroes’ insight that exposed an alternative path to addressing the dragon problem. Finally, your story will explain the careful preparation the heroes have made to tame the dragon, thereby eliminating the problem once and for all. And, there you stop.
What do you think that your executive sponsors/decision-makers will do at this point? In my experience, having facilitated this process many times, the response is unequivocally “Go Get That Dragon!” I have found that all reasonable requests for resources—people, equipment, and cash—are made available for the Dragon Taming Quest. Also, there is a strong sense of empathy about the shared problem and anticipation of the beautiful world in which the dragon no longer terrorizes the citizens. That anticipation is infectious, and the executive sponsors will feel it. The broader organization will eagerly support your heroes in their quest, too. That widespread support is important since taming this dragon will not be easy and will require everyone’s cooperation.
I may have stretched the dragon metaphor to the limits here, but I think it does highlight the important step of having the team get explicit permission from the executive sponsors in order to proceed. This is similar to a sales process. I recommend that the team enlist the help of an enthusiastic, people-oriented salesperson-type to assist them in creating and telling a compelling story. Once your team has received permission to move forward, you arrive at Step 8, in which you act to solve the problem.
How do you promote a project to get buy-in from stakeholders? Do you put together a compelling story that excites your audience? Do you put your most enthusiastic team members forward to tell the story? Do you instill excitement into all stakeholders before moving to action?
Now that you have your plan, the team needs to take it back to the broader set of stakeholders for buy-in. Enneagram Type 7 is often called the enthusiast. They’re the ones who get people excited to try something new. In Step 7, you socialize the plan with your organization. You remind everyone of the problems they face, and show how the plan will solve those problems. Done well, this socialization will lower barriers and resistance during implementation.
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