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HomeFeaturesLeadership › Real World Innovation: It’s a Lot Like Sausage

Real World Innovation: It’s a Lot Like Sausage

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Larry Osborne: Five Common Mistakes and a Better Way—Is not About Risk-Taking, It’s About Obedience.

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(4) Seeking buy-in instead of permission

A fourth common mistake is seeking buy-in instead of permission.

Buy-in is vastly overrated. It’s also almost impossible to get on the front end of a genuine innovation or significant change.

To understand why, consider the so-called Adoption Curve, made famous by Everett Rodgers in his groundbreaking book, Diffusion of Innovations.

According to Rodgers, 50 percent of people won’t buy into or adopt an innovation or major change until it’s already succeeded—and they know who else is for it.

That makes buy-in on the front end rather hard to come by!

But fortunately, it’s rather easy to get permission, especially if you ask for it in the right way. I’ve found that most boards and congregations will let us try something long before they’ll sign off as fully supporting something that is brand new or untested.

For instance, when I first presented the idea of a video venue to our senior staff, they were convinced it would never work. Actually, they were adamantly against it. All they could imagine was an overflow room, which everyone knows is a punishment for being late. Worse, when they asked me for proof it would work, I couldn’t produce any. After all, it had never been done before.

Frankly, if I had sought buy-in from our staff or board (much less the congregation), I’d still be trying to convince people that video can work. But it was easy to get permission. It almost always is, because most people are happy to let us try something as long as they don’t have to support it or pay for it.

Frankly, there are very few true innovations that require broad buy-in to launch. Most can be launched at the fringe of your ministry with minimal support. Simply count the “yes” votes and start with those who like the idea. If it’s successful, everyone will jump aboard soon enough. If it’s not, you’ll be able to bail out or make any necessary midcourse corrections without losing all of your leadership chips.

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