I was introduced to the idea of organizational buy-in at the beginning of the Fall 2007 semester by the RD of the dorm in which I worked. When he began describing this idea I found it intriguing and immediately decided to keep it in mind as much as possible in every organization I work in. Organizational buy-in is the idea that a group member does not have to agree with a decision in order to support the decision. For instance, though a team member may feel strongly that the group should make Decision X while the majority chooses to make Decision Y, the minority team member can still buy-in to the decision of the team and give it his full support.
After thinking about this idea, there is a particular criteria I feel must be in place for a member to be able to fully practice buy-in. The member must have full trust that leaders and members are making decisions solely based on what they feel is best for the organization. Though there may be differences in a group as to what is best, it must be understood that everyone is looking for what they believe is best. This belief can only be created through past experiences where members have seen one another act only for the good of the organization. The past and present motives of organizational leaders and members must be pure for one to really be trusting enough to practice buy-in.
About a month ago, I was working with a friend on a project. We and a few others had spent several hours working on this task for our organization. Because of the time we had all invested, the project had become very important to us. However, despite our work, things were not turning out nearly as well as we had hoped. This friend, who was also the group leader, looked at me and said “This just isn’t good enough, we’re going to have to forget the whole project.” At first, I was angry, knowing the time that had been invested by several people. However, in past experiences this leader has proven to only make decisions based on what he feels is best for the organization. Recognizing his purity of motive, I found myself in a place where I was forced to practice organizational buy-in. I did not want to scrap the entire project and it is not the decision which I would have made at that moment. In all seriousness, I did not like the decision at all. However, I found myself forced to look at him and say, “I’m not sold, but I’ll buy it.”
Organizational buy-in is not agreeing with a decision. It is not changing one’s mind entirely about something and simply succumbing to the authority or majority. Instead, it is recognizing that the leader or group majority prefers a different decision than that which you prefer and recognizing that the motives of the leader/majority are pure. Being that a minority group member cannot change the decision, the best thing to do is buy-in and give one’s full support to a decision. True buy-in causes one to talk positively about the made decision and its creators and lead everyone they can in the direction of the decision, despite their personal feelings about it. A person does not have to be sold on the decision to buy it.
I really like this idea and hope I can apply it in every organization I serve in. I know that there will always be decisions that I’m not convinced are the best. However, I hope I am never at the place where I will not buy-in to a decision simply because I am not sold on it. Sure, there will be decisions that I will find myself unwilling to support. But on many issues, it will be better for me to value the organization over my own personal desires.