So, why is it that no matter how concise our message, no matter how clear our slide deck and explicit our request, we don’t always drive the change that we seek?
My time with clients this month has caused me to reflect on the answer to this question by considering the concept of ’the ask’, one element of which is to be clear on whether we seek a decision, action or some sort of commitment (time, money, people etc.) However, we also need to have thought through our strategy around the ask, and there are a number of elements to this:
- Doing our research to understand our audience’s current awareness and sense of urgency around the issue
- Linking the ‘ask’ explicitly to an impact on the stakeholders’ key priorities
- Pre-briefing certain people in advance to get them onside
- Ensuring no ‘nasty surprises’, because that’s the quickest way to alienate others
- Demonstrating alignment with communities most impacted by the ask
- Garnering support from others to demonstrate how easy it would be to get started and make a difference
The ‘iterative ask’ forces us to think through our strategy for what we want and the order in which we want it. It forces us to consider our audience, prove the concept, develop its application, reinforce its business value and over time, get the bigger scale change delivered.
So what’s change that you’ve been trying to lead which has stalled, or failed to get the traction you seek? How might your strategy be improved by focusing on the clarity of and strategy for a series of asks that you might need to iterate?