Participatory partnership: How to make your partners the womb that incubate your ideas


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If you have ever tried to push an idea through a seat of intelligent colleagues, either in your own business or a business you worked for, you should by now understand how daunting it could be to get general buy-in. In fact, for some organisations, the meeting place is often called ‘War Room’. That tag could make one stagger approaching a presentation or discussing a new idea or concept you would like management to adopt.

It could be otherwise – meaning, it could be less intimidating – if you would step outside yourself and lure the ‘intelligentsia’ into owning the idea, dissecting it, discussing it, adding to it, subtracting from and generally adopting and approving it. That is fair enough.

The thing is no intelligent person wants to be served an already dissected and fully prepared idea. However good that idea is some will raise hell against it.

This is it. The business place could be so competitive that hardly anyone wants to be seen as passive. In such way, when we seem not to be competing – you know about those ‘let-share-your-meal’, break-time niceness – subconsciously, we all are aiming to be the next manager or CEO at the expense of anyone.

Therefore the best approach to generating support for your idea is to see the people you are discussing with as partners in baking kneaded flour. Or simply put, adopting the ‘incubatory strategy’.

Borrow from this wisdom. Have you ever asked, “Why does pop and mom always care so much about me though I could take care of myself now?”

They will always care. Think about it this way. Pop (dad) is that rich sperm field; mom is the sagging incubatory factory. Even if pop and mom are never in good time, you, their joint effort would never be neglected. They owe creation; they owe the blood, genes and several hormones still flowing in their bodies to protect you, the product of their joint venture.

When ideas are planted in our heads the same way sperms are passed into the womb, incubation and conception can be so seamless. It therefore means approaching a strategy session with your supposed ideas or concept as a potential sperm needing ‘a womb’ for incubation.

When that happens, you give the several ‘proud’ heads sitting at the session the pride of ‘birthing a life’ that they can call also their own, not just your own.

How do you make this happen?

  1. Court the Session: Presenting a fully packaged idea at a strategy session is like trying to rape your wife. Even God at creation said “Let US make man in our own image”. He seemed not to have forced His thought. If you have just discovered a big idea, please keep the full-script at home and approach the session like someone who has just found some ideas he or she had very limited understanding of (sometimes it may not really be so). If you adopt this approach, you are respecting everyone sitting at the session. They will see this as a privilege to help a ‘pitiable’ idealist. They will discuss the idea with passion just like your pregnant mom joyfully borne your dad’s rich ‘offering’!
  2. Embrace the Power of ‘Don’t you think…’: When you introduce your ideas or make inputs to your ideas with ‘Don’t you think…’, you are limiting the probability of dismissal.  ‘Don’t you think…’ makes your original thought sound like your partners or colleagues’ thinking. It is suggestive and a presupposition that hardly bruises anyone’s ego. It has some subtle power that disarms the most hardened dissent. This phrase can be used to gain acceptance before an audience. It can also be used to drive a process and discussion to our advantage. More so, it can be used to guide a discourse to fit into our original thought. This is because the brain hardly recognises the thought as personal, which would have, otherwise, generated opposition. The construct of the sentence sounds like ‘Isn’t that what you are already thinking’. When you use that before a senior colleague, it gains respect. In sum, ‘Don’t you think’ can be used to guide an idea through a strategy session to your desired end. This concept can be likened to pop buying mom her best meal or kissing her belly every night before going to bed – never mind pop, he is just psyching mom to ease her pain as his ‘offering’ throbs and kicks mom from the womb!

Toyin Afilaka
Toyin Afilaka
Toyin Afilaka writes with simplicity and insight. He aims to enrich the Nigerian small business landscape. Through Hustle24 he connects entrepreneurs with information about new policies, enterprise solutions and opportunities that will aid their 'hustle'. He has written extensively for CobraReview, a product review portal, and served as a lead project manager for MarketingMix where he consulted as PR consultant for MTN Project Fame and Business Next Titan etc.


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