Buy-In is Good, Consensus Not So Much

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Maximize Owner Well Being

Buy-In is Good, Consensus Not So Much

The way I see it, buy-in means that a group has endorsed an idea, a course of action or a plan. They’ve bought in because they appreciate the value and they’ll do whatever they need to do to make it happen.

Consensus, on the other hand, is about a group discussing the topic at length, until everyone agrees with every detail. Every objection is addressed until it’s removed or modified out of existence.

When a leader at any level strives for consensus on every topic, the outcome is reduced to the lowest common denominator. It’s safe and non-controversial. It’s also non-competitive, becomes a commodity that commands only the lowest price, and makes no one a hero. Why would anyone strive for consensus in the world today?

Think about persons and companies that have gained notice, fame and extraordinary success. They appear on “Top” lists all the time. They are highly visible examples of people who are persons of interest. Clearly they have gained tremendous buy-in for their products and services, but anyone can see that they haven’t succeeded by striving for consensus. Pick any newsmaker you care to: business leaders (Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs, Alan Mulally, Tony Hseih); self-help experts (Dr. Oz, Suze Orman, Oprah); celebrities (Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Lady Gaga); and you’ll realize that they have tremendous buy-in but clearly they’ve never strived for consensus.

Have you fallen into the consensus trap? Sure, consensus reduces friction, enhances a feeling of equality, smoothes over rough edges, but it also reduces your company to the lowest common denominator. The next time you’re asking people to think about innovations, or engage in creative disruption, or aim for cutting edge, be sure to emphasize that you’re not seeking or expecting consensus.

You are expecting the idea generators to convince others to buy into their unique, disruptive or extraordinary products or services.

What thought, product or service leaders have you bought into? How do you gain buy-in within your own business and industry?