Byron's Babbles

Opening The Door To All Possibilities

Posted in Buy In, Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development, Vantage Points by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on June 11, 2021

Yesterday in a discussion I was a part of an individual said that we might just need to use the “get a foot in the door” technique. This immediately felt very coercive to me. It was a good discussion and now we had someone wanting to already take a step toward her own ultimate goal. In fact the group was leaning away from some of her ideas. Because this was a policy discussion, suggestion or use of this approach would be a very binary and old industrial model way of doing things. The context here was very different than someone wanting to get a foot in the door so someone, for example, could become familiar with the good work you do. The foot in the door technique referred to in the meeting was a compliance tactic that assumes agreeing to a small change increases the likelihood of agreeing to a second, larger change later.

This has actually been studied extensively. Initially you make a small request and once the person agrees to this they find it more difficult to refuse a bigger one (Freedman & Fraser, 1966). Why does it work so well? Because we like consistency and we like to be consistent. So, for the technique to work, all we have to do is have the second, larger request, be consistent with or similar in nature to the original small request. Do that and the technique will work (Petrova et al., 2007).

This theory was tested in 1980 in my own state of Indiana. Residents were called by Sherman (1980) and asked if, hypothetically, they would volunteer to spend 3 hours collecting for the American Cancer Society. Then, the same group of people were called by a different person three days later and actually asked for help – 31% agreed to help. Of the group that did not get the hypothetical ask, only 4% volunteered to help.

This feels very disingenuous to me. I can think back, even recently, to where this has been done to me in some form or another. This is another form of getting to “buy in.” Which as I always say if you have to go get “buy in” you’ve already failed. Why not do the work of including stakeholders from all vantage points with all different diverging and converging views to start with. Only when everyone has been heard and had a part in the crafting of ideas, can the door be open fully.


Freedman, J. L., & Fraser, S. C. (1966). Compliance without pressure: the foot-in-the-door technique. Journal of personality and social psychology, 4(2), 195.

Petrova, P. K., Cialdini, R. B., & Sills, S. J. (2007). Consistency-based compliance across cultures. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 43(1), 104-111.

Sherman, S. J. (1980). On the self-erasing nature of errors of prediction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39(2), 211-221.


Buy In From All Vantage Points

Screen Shot 2019-06-12 at 8.48.42 PMThis week I had the opportunity to present a leadership academy workshop session entitled “Buy In From All Vantage Points.” The gist of the session was how to get an entire school staff to “buy in” to a continuous education model and other important school initiative. When I was first given the title I balked a little, but then decided to leave it so I could refer to not liking the title. I don’t like the title because “buy in” to me implies that there needs to be a “sales job” done after decisions are made. In my view, decisions should be made by including a wide range of individuals so the initiative, challenge, or opportunity can be looked at from all Vantage Points©. I refer to and use this model often when discussing leading change, which is what I would have titled the session. Here is the Vantage Point© model developed by MG Taylor Corporation:

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When I want people to understand how powerful using The Vantage Points© is to leading change, I like to compare it to board games. If you think about it board games have a philosophy, culture, policy, strategy, tactics, logistics, and tasks. So, I had the groups pick a board game to use as an example. The group picked Candy Land™. Then they had to discuss board game from the seven Vantage Points©.

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One of the groups of the two sessions I did on this did some research on the Candy Land™ board game and we learned some history. We were reminded that in the 1940s the dreaded disease of Polio struck thousands of Americans. In response to this, Eleanor Abbott, who was a victim of the disease herself, set out to develop games that would help recovering children pass the time. Milton Bradley, which is now Hasbro® began marketing the game in 1949 and is still being marketed today. Additionally, it is now available in electronic forms.

As the group made the comparison to leading change, they found that the philosophy was to be attainable and challenging to all – what we want in all education initiatives. Just like a board game, we need to give everyone a chance to play and have the opportunity to be a part of the decision making. It’s important to acknowledge that you will never convince everyone to get on board. An unfortunate truth is often that a better future for your school or organization doesn’t always mean a better situation for every individual in the end. It should, however, mean a better situation for the students we serve.

We need to always remember, when leading change, that change is always personal. Think about it; any time there is a change we all question how the change will affect us personally. As leaders, we need to be cognizant of this, and address this. By involving individuals from all vantage points we are able to help everyone, including ourselves, understand how the change will affect everyone. Leading change and new initiatives is a process, we need to use all our tools and techniques to manage the people side of change to achieve the required school or organization outcome. Effectively leading change incorporates the organizational tools that can be utilized to help individuals make successful personal transitions resulting in the adoption and realization of change.