In almost all organisations there is an authority asymmetry. The number of people who are empower to say “no” is usually much greater than those who are empowered to say “yes”. This is because organisations are much more comfortable with staying the same than agreeing to changes. Empowering people to say “no” is a safe option.
Optimising return on influence
It is also true to say that more often than not the number of people you might have to influence to get something done is significantly greater than the amount of time available to do the influencing. This is why innovators often fail to get much done.
Consequently, its necessary to optimise the return on influence.
For an innovator, there is almost no upside available influencing those with the power to say “no”, because the best possible outcome is ambivalence, which is not especially helpful. On the other hand, there is every chance they actually will say “no”. Optimising return on influence means the best strategy is keeping your innovation under-the-radar from the nay-sayers as long as possible.
On the other hand, influencing someone with the authority to say “yes” might still get you a negative response, but at least you’ll have the chance to move forward. It is a much better value proposition.
How do you tell the difference?
Here’s a litmus check which almost always works. The person who controls the money is able to say “yes”. Everyone else can only say “no”.