Influence the decision-making unit and turn your ideas into reality

We share common challenge. The decision-making unit for security is too large.

Last week I was asked ‘what’s your biggest business challenge?’ My answer, ‘the decision-making unit for security awareness is too large. It slows down conversion rates and inflates cost of sale.’

Booted off board agenda… again
Some aspects of security have become business as usual. There’s a budget. A process. Things get done – no questions asked. Whilst others still lack maturity in a wider business context. Roll on the next 3-months of planning who you need to get on your side, how to approach them, what the message should be and being continuously booted off the board agenda for something ‘more important’.

For us the impact is on our pipeline. For you it might be an inability to protect your business as well as you know you can. The looming threat of a data-breach. Or perhaps just your own sanity!

The person who asked me that question was Tony Llewellyn, Team Development Director at ResoLex. Tony offered to give us the benefit of his experience optimising the performance of complex projects. Here’s what he had to say:

Isn’t it frustrating when people just don’t get it?
What do you do when you need to persuade a budget holder higher up the ‘food chain’ to invest in your idea. Whilst the rationale for the investment may seem like a no brainer to you, it’s frustrating when the person or group who needs to say yes just doesn’t seem to get it. So what is the secret to getting buy in from the top?

The answer lies in using the art of influence
Influence can be defined as an ability to cause someone to change a behaviour, belief or opinion. But how does it actually work? The trick is to get the other person to look at a situation in the same way as you see it.

It’s tempting to…
…try to persuade others using compulsive logic. Logical reasoning is often ineffective because each of us has different mental filters through which we see the world. What may seem like a cast iron business case to you may be little more than circumstantial evidence to the other person.

The key to influence
The key to influence is to use questions. Asking someone what they think is a highly effective way of getting another person to focus on your issue. Modern life gives us too little bandwidth to cover all the things that arise so we rarely have time to go through the cognitive process of thinking around a problem. But being asked by someone to articulate a response in words requires the respondent to go through a similar mental sequence to your own.

Some simple examples of influencing questions are,
“What would happen if……..?”
“Given these constraints how do you think we could fix this problem?”
“Have you had to deal with a problem like this before?”
“I have an idea as to how to fix the problem, but I need to think it through with someone. Could you help me?”

An effective way of getting engagement
An appeal for assistance has been shown to be a very effective way of getting engagement, as it indicates a degree of vulnerability, and appeals to a common sense of purpose. The questions must be asked in the spirit of genuine enquiry. You want the respondent to open their minds to a new way of thinking, so be careful that your questions are not perceived to be ‘leading’ the response.

Give up on glory
If you really want your idea to happen, then try and get the other party to think it is their idea. Influencing questions are a great way of planting the seed of an idea in someone else’s mind and allowing it to grow. You may lose the credit. But if you believe in what you are trying to do, then having a senior sponsor who now owns your idea is going to increase your chances of success.

Using influential questions is a learned skill, in that the more you practice, the easier and more natural the process will feel. I nevertheless urge you to get started. In a complex and fast changing world, learning to help people adopt new solutions and perspectives is a competence that will serve you well both at work and at home.

So, what would happen if………………?

Now I’d like to hear from you – have you used influential questions effectively? If so share them below so other readers can use them successfully too.

Layer 8
Layer 8 minimises the risk to businesses caused through poor employee behaviours. Most security training fails because it removes conversation, which is a primary catalyst for change. Layer 8 uses conversation to create proactive security behaviours that can be measured. Using the Layer 8 Toolkit, accessible in App or Web-based formats. The Layer 8 Toolkit delivers impactful messages fast, allows interaction, drives people to collaborate on risk reducing initiatives and can measure improvements.

 

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