Buy-In by John Kotter: Book Review

Buy-In by John Kotter

If you’ve ever had a good idea shot down, welcome to the club.  You believe in an idea that would be beneficial to your Sunday School…the establishing of ongoing training, a relocation of several classes to allow for growth, or new items you want to include in next year’s budget that would greatly benefit your teachers.  There’s just one problem:  not everyone is as enthusiastic about your ideas.  Sound familiar?  If you’ve ever been shot down in a finance committee meeting, staff meeting, or impromptu conversation about a potentially great idea, there’s help for you.  John Kotter’s book Buy-In may help you fight off your detractors so your great idea can be realized for the benefit of all.

Kotter’s book is 190 pages and is divided into two halves.  The first half, The Centerville Story, is a story about a small-town library whose leaders are seeking approval to purchase computers for use by library patrons.  They present their case at an open meeting, and the townspeople who’ve gathered to hear the proposal aren’t exactly all on board.  Opposition mounts from almost every corner of the room, but the concerns and objections are met with calm responses by the meetings’ leaders.  Cases are made for the adoption of the idea to purchase computers, and during the course of the meeting people are won over to the idea.

The second half of the book, The Method, is used by Kotter to go into detail about the four ways good ideas are killed, twenty-four attacks and twenty-four responses, and a quick-reference guide for saving good ideas.  He demonstrates how the leaders of the meeting at the Centerville library used this information to counteract the negative attacks of their detractors.

The book is a quick read, but packed with practical help for dealing with naysayers.  If you’re tired of seeing your great ideas shot down, I would encourage you to pick up a copy of Buy-In and begin using the simple responses to the 24 attacks…and watch more of your ideas get buy-in from the people in your church.  If you lead people, you can’t afford not to read this book!  I have plans to introduce this book to the two people who manage the editorial teams of our adult publishing department, and to create a “lunch and learn” session at which even more employees from across my company can learn the principles found in the book.

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