Is Buy-In Overrated?

by Davin Wilfrid

June 10, 2010

by Davin Wilfrid, ERP Expert

You've probably heard the project-analogy quip about the ham 'n eggs breakfast: Sure, the chicken is involved, but the pig is committed. I was reminded of that when listening to Gary Bennett of McDermott Consulting talk about buy-in versus commitment at the SAPPHIRE NOW conference. Here's an excerpt from my conference highlights article on the Project Expert Web site:

It is difficult to come across a project management guide or case study that fails to highlight the importance of securing buy-in for an SAP project. However, one consultant calls buy-in “overrated” and urges project leaders to shift their way of thinking on the issue.

Gary Bennett of McDermott Consulting says the problem with the concept of “buy-in” is that it appears to leave too much room for opting out. Instead, he says project leaders should work to secure commitment from all relevant segments of the business.

“If your company doesn’t go to the campfire and sing Kumbaya, you’re not looking for buy-in,” he says. “You’re looking for an understanding of the mission and commitment.”

Bennett — a former fighter pilot — likens committing to a project to parachuting out of an airplane. Once the paratrooper is out the door, he says, he has every incentive to land safely.

Now THAT'S commitment

The steps to securing commitment, he says, are to make sure everyone understands the commitment, to describe the commitment, and to give people incentives to finish their commitment. Some incentives are easy — such as providing food for those performing testing. Others are more difficult, such as insisting that managers stay late or work weekends to finish their tasks.

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