How to Create Initiatives that Sell Themselves

(Especially to Engineers)

90 Seconds Read

You are looking at introducing a culture change.

You wonder: "How do I get engineers' buy-in and participation?"

You don't want this to be "just another initiative" engineers reject, here's a step by step process that increases your chances of success:

Step 1

Be very clear in your own mind - what is it that you want them to do and why. What problem or need have you identified that is driving this culture change?

Step 2

Ask yourself - do I know the specific problems this initiative would solve for engineers? Was this initiative developed involving engineers (my target audience) or was it developed by strategy / executives in a meeting?

If the answer to any of these questions is: "no" (and in 99% of the cases, the answer is "no"):

Take a sample of engineers (10 for example) from the group you think this new initiative would have the biggest positive impact first and approach them individually, informally (over lunch or coffee) and ask them about their needs, problems and frustrations in the area of your initiative. Check with them individually what they would think of this initiative and what problems or barriers they see in implementing it.

Listen to understand, don't listen to respond.

Step 3

Look at the patterns that start emerging with regards to the barriers engineers would have to taking on board your initiative. Plus see if it is really fit for purpose - do they see this as a problem they want to solve? If the problem they want to solve is not the same as the problem you want to solve with your initiative, can you make your initiative fit with the problem they want to solve, or do you have to change the initiative? How can you adapt the initiative so it fits with them? Adjust the initiative according to your findings from the one to one chats with engineers.

Step 4

With the adjusted initiative after the first round of conversations with engineers, check with them how fit for purpose this adjusted initiative would be for them and if they see any more barriers to make it fit for purpose.

Step 5

Only after your second iteration of the initiative, start pitching it to wider audiences and groups. Otherwise you risk being shredded to pieces in front of everyone and having your initiative attacked and discredited before it even started.

How to Pitch the Initiative?

A - Start with WHY - the problem they have (not with your problem) that you identified in the one to one sessions with engineers

B - Continue with HOW - Explain in specific terms (no abstract or strategic concepts here) how this affects them (the challenges they face because of this problem) and how they may have tried to solve it (the challenges they faced in solving it), but it didn't quite work (this is all information you collected from your one to one informal chats with engineers)

C - Explain WHAT you suggest and how this would solve all of the problems and challenges described in the first two parts of your pitch.

D - Call to Action - ask for expressions of interest or suggestions on how this could be made to work for them.

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