Buy-in is Bull&*$%

Excuse the cursing but it’s one of those once in awhile times where it drives a point home exactly the way it needs to land. I heard this remark from Keith Ferrazzi recently while he was giving a talk about creating effective teams. (Please skip to 30:41 to get to the heart of the message) This remark stopped me in my tracks because like many people, I’ve been taught time and time again that we have to create buy-in, that somehow it’s a workable solution approach. Heck, in a recent newspaper article, some key staff members used this phrase multiple times. And hey, I feel where they’re coming from. It’s been how we do things for a long time in a lot of places.

The same way Keith challenged that notion for me, I want to challenge that notion for our community…

“Buy-in means you’ve cooked an answer and you’re trying to sell it to someone. Nobody wants to be sold your s*&%. Buy-in is probably one of the least effective forms of transformational thinking because it assumes that a limited number of people at Headquarters or your little head was able to create a transformational answer without radical inclusion.”

One of the reasons we have a hard time trusting leaders? They’re trying to sell us their crap.

At our most recent Council Meeting during the update from the Steering Committee, I interjected a touch of this sentiment and asked that we change the rhetoric from “buy-in” to “co-creation.” Now I know… At first take, this seems a bit “flighty” to those who have spent decades in the working world under the older rhetoric and ideology. I know I’m putting myself out on a ledge a little bit but I want to convey the importance of this change in both language and approach. It is very important.

See, I could run on a platform for Mayor as someone who audaciously thinks she has all the answers for the whole of Cripple Creek. Some barely 34-year-old young lady without a college degree and who has limited professional years under her belt has ALL the ideas and ALL the answers and you need to buy into my vision! —No thanks. Right? How many of you would vote for that nonsense? I wouldn’t.

Even when someone who has a decade, two, or even three decades of professional experience comes out and attempts to sell you their idea or their proposal for a solution, already there is a dividing line. Either you’re on the bandwagon with them or you aren’t. It becomes a black and white proposition and ultimately, either/or conversations aren’t productive. Sometimes the best solution is yes/and. Other times the solution is somewhere in the middle of two ideas. Many times there are other completely outside of the box ideas that need to be entertained. It takes conversations and a process to carve out the best path to get to the best destinations and we can’t get there buying into one person’s idea or the things that come from an isolated silo.

For Cripple Creek, this means engaging as much of the community as we possibly can to co-create our priorities, our goals, or vision and then to further that co-creation and co-collaboration on finding the ways to get there.

So when you ask me what my Vision is you’ll get a somewhat esoteric answer: My vision is your vision.

It isn’t a cop out when I say that although it might sound like that at first.

I want more things for families to do here. I want better resources for us all. I want a more diverse economy here, more businesses, better events, more community, more alive-ness. Me? I want people who are between their late 20s and early 50s to WANT to be here, to WANT to raise our families here and to feel we have things to do that we connect with. I want us to feel we have opportunities here. I want us to celebrate our history but not become irrelevant in the current world. I want us to be clear on who we are and where we are headed.

What that ultimately means in the big picture and how that looks, however, more than anything I want us to co-create that clear and vivid vision together. I might have some good ideas once in awhile but when many minds come to the table, that’s when great and incredible ideas happen —they happen in collaboration.

I don’t want to sell you “Meghan’s Cripple Creek” and I am going to continue to put a hammer down on anyone else here trying to do the same. We need to work together to create that vision and we need everyone who wants to be involved in that to feel excitement around their participation and contributions. It’s your team. It’s your community. My team is your team.

The steering committee is embracing a lot of these ideas right now and putting so much into motion. The job of the local government is to first get out of the way, second it is to listen, and third the local government’s job is to inspire, encourage, and support the efforts in figuring out how we get there.


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