Yokl: How to Answer the Critics of Good Savings Ideas

In the following column, Robert T. Yokl , Chief Value Strategist, Strategic Value Analysis® in Healthcare, addresses how you should respond to critics who want to shoot down .


I was just reading excerpts from the new book “How to Save Good Ideas” by John P. Kotter, which should be a must-read for all supply chain professionals. The book deals with the four maddening strategies that your critics use to shoot down your good ideas (savings or otherwise): fear-mongering, death by delay, confusion, and ridicule. Kotter states further that these four strategies are typically executed through two dozen questions, arguments, and comments to derail your good ideas. Here’s a sampling of Kotter’s 24 idea killer ploys: 

  • We have been successful. Why change?
  • You’re exaggerating the problem?
  • It’s too simplistic to work.
  • No one else does this.
  • People have too many concerns.
  • Tried that before — didn’t work.
  • Good idea, but timing is wrong.
  • It’s just too much work to do this.
  • It won’t work here. We’re different.
  • We can’t afford this.
  • You’ll never convince enough people.
  • We’re simply not equipped to do this.


Sound familiar? We all have heard at least one of these ploys targeted at us at least once a week, if not more often, in our supply chain jobs. Given that I’m in the business of selling savings, quality and process improvement ideas, I hear more than a few of these excuses each day. But that doesn’t keep me from being frustrated, aggravated and somewhat discouraged at how many good savings ideas die an unnatural and premature death.


Kotter says that one tactic for dealing with these critics, “Instead of just spraying verbal bullets, (is to) respond in a way that is not only respectful but very short, simple, clear and filled with common sense.” I too have found that a cool head can win more critics over to their side, than getting into a donnybrook with them.

In fact, I have come to believe that the art of persuasion is nine-tenths education and only one-tenth sound logic. This is because most of our critics are reacting to the fear of the unknown when they attempt to kill good ideas. By educating them on the multiple benefits of our good ideas we have a much better chance of making them converts vs. creating enemies. This way we can have a respectful and intelligent dialog with our critics who oftentimes become our best supporters. The alternative is to have a shootout with our critics where there will be no winners!

You can reach Yokl at bobpres@strategicva.com.

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