Organizations of all sizes play a similar game every year. Groups of talented, highly motivated men and women invest weeks, if not months, creating plans and budgets for the upcoming year. Then, as a friend of mine describes it, the tournament begins. And, like most competitions, there are winners and losers.
My core belief is that money follows great ideas. That’s why I’ve always loved the tournament – it is the perfect showcase for big ideas. However, no matter how good your idea is, this will rarely be enough to secure funding – there are just TOO MANY great ideas.
[tweet_box design="default"]Money follows great ideas.[/tweet_box]
So, why are some requests funded and others not? Hard to say… however, I have noticed a few patterns.
- Logic is king – I always want people to understand even if they don’t agree. Let me explain… If you can persuade people to agree on the goal, the next step is to present strategies that make perfect sense given the goal you’ve just established. If the strategies are clear and agreed upon, the tactics you recommend must align perfectly with the strategy. Once the logic chain is established – Goal, Strategy, Tactics, the budget is merely the price tag to do what has just been agreed upon.
- Simple sells – I have seen this play out over and over and over again. Simple gets the money more often than the complex. Now, this is not to suggest that every complex idea should be turned down and only the simple survive. On the contrary, the trick is to explain the complex in simple terms. A question to help you prepare: How would I explain this to a five-year-old child? You may not believe me – just try simple. My prediction is you’ll never go back.
- Visuals help – You’ve heard the saying a picture is worth a thousand words; there is certainly some truth to that. However, I think a well-conceived picture can be worth millions of dollars! A great visual can also help combat the challenge of making the complex simple. I used an image a few years ago to communicate a fairly complex idea successfully. For years, people in our organization would seek me out and ask if I could help them create an image to help them sell their idea. If you don’t have a simple visual to represent your big idea, start working on it now.
- Less is more - Many believe the more lengthy a presentation, the greater their chance of success; the opposite is often true. Only people who truly understand an idea can represent it succinctly. As a rule of thumb, cut your PowerPoint decks by 80% and cut the number of words per slide by 80% while you are at it. This will also help with idea #2 above. Note: This does not mean less preparation; it means less words. If you are prepared, you can answer the questions your presentation may not address directly.
- Reputation matters – Do you have a history of delivering what you promise? If your budget is approved, you better deliver. The odds your organization will give you money year after year is unlikely if you have not been a good steward of the resources and opportunities of the past. If you are presenting a project or initiative that can be linked to a previous, successful effort, it may not hurt to mention it.
As you enter your tournament, I’ll offer the same advice I gave my son before hundreds of games…
Play hard and have fun![GLS_Shield]