• Karen Zeigler

Designing Solutions That Create Buy-IN


Pondering Effectiveness


I'm a geek 🤓 when it comes to effectiveness. It's a personality quirk, but it makes me giddy when I find new ways to create efficacy for myself and my clients. To give you a silly example, in a previous life as a salesperson, I would often stop for my favorite ☕️ Chai with almond milk and half a shot of espresso. After my first morning appointment, I would also need a restroom break (sorry if that's TMI), so I always went in versus hitting the drive-through. Pulling into the parking lot, I placed the order on the Starbucks App. Entering the coffee shop, I'd hit the restroom and then grab my drink on the way out—all without pause. Off I went refreshed and refueled for the next appointment. Creating these seamless experiences is like heaven on earth for me. The sun, moon, and stars have aligned. 🙌🏻 In contrast, when things don't align, my mind finds it hard to settle until I have found the source of ineffectiveness. Granted, sometimes I have to accept that the human factor is messy and not always effective or efficient. Fortunately, this has driven me to decades of unorthodox studies of humans and how and why we act the way we do. But I digress.


For example, I was recently thinking about the endless possibilities for applying design thinking to developing creative solutions that are engaging, energizing, and of course, effective. I've taught


How to create connection, culture & loyalty in a virtual world

How leaders and their organizations can become more adaptable

How to tame egos so collaborations stay on track

How to develop purpose-driven employees


I delivered all these training sessions through the lens of design thinking. As I pondered the possibilities, I saw two distinct careers where my use of design thinking brought consistent and repeated success - one as VP at Bank of America and one as Independent Investment Advisor at Wells Fargo. Then my mind did its thing and reminded me that the latter was not as effective as the former. I wondered why? 🤔 As VP, I used design thinking as a leadership practice. It was tremendously effective. As a result of the approach, I landed company trips, upward promotions every two years, and a 10-year streak of being in the top percentile for my region regardless of location. I ended this segment of my career as the Leader of the largest location by assets and number of employees. It catapulted me into a historical moment when I was part of a three-bank merger and acquisition that allowed the bank to be the first to achieve interstate banking.


After a whirlwind decade of riding the waves of continual change (8 mergers in 10 years), I decided it was time for a family, and with the birth of my one and only daughter shifted careers to Investment Advisor. The sales I was involved in were complex. Executives with stock options, charitable trust, and other legal complexities meant that I wasn't just selling to the husband and his wife but also their team of wealth professionals - attorneys, HR benefit personnel, accountants, charitable organizations, life insurance professionals, and other niche investment experts. The complexity made it a great fit for using design thinking to understand the complexity of the problems and the needs of each user. In hindsight, it was successful, but its effectiveness didn't seem as fail-proof as the prior career. The buy-in wasn't 💯 like it had always appeared to be as VP. 🤔 While I realize there is always a failure rate in sales, I wondered if there was an element I had neglected that could have made me more effective.



Shift from WIIFM to WPOMIII


As I pondered the nuances between the two roles and confirmed using all the phases of design thinking, I wondered what the missing effectiveness piece was? That's when it hit me that I was leaning too heavily on the sales training and not relying on integrating the human-centered aspects. To boil it down for you. I was heavy on the


What's in it for me?


but not putting enough emphasis on showing my prospects what I had so successfully showed my leaders and team in my role as VP. That being - what part of me is in it.


What part of me is in it?


The former is a sales technique that's been around for decades. Its longevity is proof that it's pretty good at getting results. People are generally happy when you address the question - what's in it for me. Unless, of course, they sense they are being manipulated. When it works, it's extrinsic happiness. However, extrinsic happiness is fleeting. As Maya Angelou puts it:

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

The latter, on the other hand, creates intrinsic joy. In allowing them to see - what part of me is in it - you're holding up a mirror to the best expression of themselves. You make them feel something. You make them feel like they matter; their contribution matters. To explain, let me share a story about how this is a natural part of being human.


She has my eyes, his nose


After my daughter had her first child, the texts started coming almost immediately. Mom, could you send me pictures of me as a baby. Newborn, six weeks, three months, etc. The texts went on for a long time. She and her husband were in the new parent debate about who the child looked more like. So even though my daughter carried my granddaughter for nine months and gave birth to her, she was looking for all the evidence she could find that she did that. She had left an irrefutable mark on what had been created (a child in this example). That this beautiful little girl was a reflection of her, but this "I did that" pride isn't just a part of being a parent.


Consider the last team collaboration you were a part of. Regardless of how successful the project was or wasn't as a team. When did you find yourself sitting a little taller, smiling a little wider during the presentation? Likely, when your part of the project was highlighted. It's a universal trait that we carry with us throughout life. Whether we are showing off our artwork in kindergarten or discussing our latest work project, the intrinsic joy comes when we can express ourselves—when we can see the good in us, expressed in the outside world.


Guaranteed Gift of Good Feelings


As a leader, are you looking for a more effective way to create buy-in? Next time you find your WIIFM isn't as effective as you would like. Whether it's the latest change initiative or starting a project that you'll need the approval of Executives - be sure to include WPOMIII. I guarantee you will give the gift of good feelings, and from my experience, you'll likely create a long list of successful buy-ins too.


For more information on how design thinking can help you design solutions with greater buy-in, message me for a complimentary consultation.




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