Animal magic and the art of gaining buy-in: Leeds September 2019

There was a distinctly animal theme to a recent buy-in workshop at the Professional Marketing Forum in Leeds meeting Metaphors and stories are a powerful way to communicate  – so here are some highlights on animal magic and the art of gaining buy-in.

Bees – Communication

Bees show amazing powers of communication – supporting each other and sharing information about where the best sources of pollen might be. They work together towards a common goal and each knows it place and role. The importance of internal communication in achieving buy-in is clear It is a vital component of employee engagement

Cats, dogs and bears – Personalities

This is one of my favourite ways to describe different personalities. It relates, in part, to McClelland’s Human Motivation Theory – dogs are motivated by affiliation, cats by achievement and bears by power and control. You can also link to the task focus of cats and the relationship focus of dogs. Cats are generally introverts and dogs extroverts. The original version called these types dependent (dogs), detached (cats) and dominant (bears).

The conversation here expanded into other personality assessments and the Deloitte Business Chemistry model – Drivers, Guardians, Integrators and Pioneers – was also mentioned

More cats – Alignment

It is often said that achieving anything in professional service firms is like herding cats. Remember that fantastic video (see We talked about the need to have a clear vision, shared values and goal alignment.

More dogs – Psychological safety, education and training

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” they say. Yes you can. Understanding important psychological theories about learning and survival anxiety, comfort zones, habits, learning styles, appreciation and feedback can help us to educate those old dogs and encourage them to learn new behaviours.

Dinosaurs – Stakeholder segmentation

Many practices will have some of those change-resistant dinosaurs who cling to the way things were in the past. Some have a valuable role as protectors and promoters of the values of the firm. Others prevent progress. Careful stakeholder mapping can help us segment the internal audience so that we focus efforts on champions and sponsors and avoid the dinosaurs. We also talked about how to identify the adaptive third

Elephants – Emotional commitment

Emotions are critical. I suggest that the emotions are like the elephant on which the rational rider sits. We need emotional engagement in order to promote change and make it stick. We talked about motivation and the three step model (rational, emotional and specific steps) proposed by Chip and Dan Heath in their book “Switch: How to change things when change is hard”

Foxes – Internal politics

Foxes are clever, agile and sly creatures. There’s a popular model of internal politics suggesting that there are foxes, rising stars, fallen stars and foot soldiers. Avoid getting caught in the cross-fire of old coalitions, alliances, triangulations and power plays. Conflict is an inevitable part of all relationships so learn how to manage difference.

Frogs – Time management

We all tend to procrastinate and put things off – especially when it comes to dealing with people where we anticipate difficulties or conflict. “Eat the frog” means tackling the least favourable task early on to get it out of the way. This increases our motivation to push forward with other tasks

Magpies and Pigeons – Leadership

Leadership plays a big role in buy-in and change management. Whereas some talk about visionaries (having a compelling vision is so important in achieving buy-in and motivating change) and integrators I talk about magpies and pigeons

Sharks – Culture

Solitary, focused hunters. The “eat what you kill” culture in some professional service firms (driven by the billable hour) can work against any firm-wide or team initiatives. Understanding and shaping corporate culture is not a short-term or easy endeavour.