Blog Post

Ownership not buy-in

Posted to Gurteen Knowledge-Log by David Gurteen on 29 April 2014



Ownership not buy-in
WeblogGurteen Knowledge Log
Knowledge LetterAppears in the Gurteen Knowledge Letter issue: 166
Posted DateTuesday 29 April 2014 09:50 GDT
Posted ByDavid Gurteen
Linkshttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQ2-xaCYJDU&list=PL7F46807E43 ... 

Some years ago I gave a series of mini-interviews that I posted on YouTube. (I am not going to check how many actual years it was as I look so much younger then!) One of them was entitled "How do you make people share?" You can view it here.

In the video, I talk about the need for ownership of any change you wish to instigate in an organization verses trying to get buy-in through bribes such as rewards. This is still an issue dear to my heart as I continually see so many organizations get this wrong.

So I was delighted a few days ago when Lisa Kimball contacted me having seen the slides of my recent talk on Conversational Leadership at the Leadership Communication Conference in Abu Dhabi as she recognised we had so much in common.

In her email she shared several resources with me including a great handbook entitled Engaging Everyone with Liberating Structures It is full of useful resources and advise but what quickly jumped out for me was the section on "Ownership verses Buy-in". Here is what she has to say.

Ownership is when you own or share the ownership of an idea, a decision, an action plan, a choice. It means that you have participated in its development; that it is your choice freely made.

Buy-in is the exact opposite. Someone else, or some group of people, has done the development, the thinking and the deciding, and now they have to convince you to come along and buy-in to their idea -- so that you can implement their idea without your involvement in the initial conversations or resulting decisions. Aiming for buy-in creates lukewarm, pallid implementation and mediocre results.

When it comes to solving intractable socio-technical behavioural problems in systems the notion of buy-in is just not useful – people in the system need to own the new behaviors.

Anytime you or someone around you thinks or talks about buy-in, beware! It is a danger signal telling you that your development and implementation process is missing the essential ingredient of involving all who should be involved.

Thank you Lisa.

If you are interested in Knowledge Management, the Knowledge Café or the role of conversation in organizational life then you my be interested in this online book I am writing on Conversational Leadership
David Gurteen

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