Mark Stelzner is a brilliant consultant and speaker.I’m blogging live from his session at Ohio SHRM. The key message is keep it very simple. When you present a business case, the longer it is the more likely it will be ignored. Keep your writing concise, broken up with simple to understand visuals.
Write the executive summary as if it was written for twitter. This keeps things short, with impact. With practice you can get a lot across in 140 characters.
Stelzner advises that no proposal should have more than 5 objectives, and ideally one. Use graphics to make points:
What happens if we do nothing?
Include 3 project alternatives to allow the chiefs to make some choices, 1 of which is do nothing.
Don’t show all your research, present the key points and conclusions. The reader wants to know you have done plenty of research, but they only want the headlines.
Include an implementation plan by identifying the influencers in the decision making process, and incorporate their views in to the plan. feed their ego with inclusion and you will bring their support.
Include clear timescales, cost points, pay points and review dates. Make this very simple to view and follow, again, a graphic will help in this. if they can see it, they can approve it.
The appendices section is not the place to dump every bit of research you found and downloaded. Summarise and link to source if the reader wants more. I
Include third-party executive summaries that back up your business case as an external source of validation and reinforcement.
Understand where the decision makers and readers were educated, groups they belong to and content they read. research these places to find supporting evidence from sources they trust. If they went to Harvard, Oxford or Cambridge research there first. If there is a report or research that backs up your argument, this is gold in your argument. As with any writing, know your audience and what influences them.
One last quote from Stelzner that stands out:
“Avoid including bullshit. CEO’s can smell BS a mile away because it is their own smell!”
When your presenting the business case, do your homework on the decision makers and the gate-keepers.
Be specific, short and to the point. Your probably going to get no more han 15 minutes. It needs to be a lightning pitch, well rehearsed.
Ask questions and seek opinion before you present your close.
Feed the ego of the chief by including their comments in the pitch,
Understand that once you get the nod, you will get redirected to someone else to make the decision. plan in advance where you’re going next, and who you re going to be talking to.
Last big point: Say Thankyou whatever the outcome.
Thanks Mark for sharing our thoughts, your totally Bats! (Brilliant at the simple)