Five Ways to Profoundly Increase Your Odds of Getting an Approved Proposal

Melissa Dutmers Got a good idea that that you think is worthy of proposing to your management team? Of course you do; we all do. Well, what if I were to tell you of a little known way that profoundly increases your odds of getting an approved proposal – might that be of interest?

I thought so.

The answer is in understanding the mindsets of your decision makers. In doing so, your chances for approval increase and your management team will appreciate that you understand the bigger picture in which decisions are made.

So, here is where you start.

  1. Is the idea aligned with strategic objectives?
    If it is, use the strategic objectives in your proposal to show support for already established common ground. If your proposal is not, or suggests new objectives, achieving approval will be more challenging but is not impossible.
  2. Is the idea tied to the decision makers’ personal objectives?
    Find out what results your decision makers are accountable for in the coming year. If you can show a clear link between your idea and decision makers’ personal objectives, you may be able to use this information to influence their decisions.
  3. The Decision Makers' Mindset Matrix by Melissa Dutmers Why should this idea take priority over other projects?
    Scan the projects in your organization and honestly assess why this idea should take priority (and resources) from other projects already under way. Organizations only have so many resources and you need to be able to answer why this idea should take priority.
  4. Why is this idea important now? 
    Timing is everything. You may have identified an important idea, but is this idea important now? Organizations have a threshold for change. If the amount of change exceeds that threshold, people will get frustrated and overwhelmed. If the timing isn’t right, when would it be?
  5. What challenges or risks would be mitigated or remedied if the idea were approved?
    If you can show how the idea would mitigate risk or remove a challenge that the decision makers are facing today, you have yourself a gold nugget on the approval side of the scale.

Successful change happens by design. Getting good ideas approved takes a well-designed strategy. I hope these five questions will be good for your good idea.


Melissa Dutmers is a writer, consultant, and blogger. Melissa is the president of and founder of RiverFork Consulting. Melissa lives in Fort Collins, Colorado. She is an avid equestrian, and she is fascinated by change in business and in life.

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  1. Thanks for the post! Check out further insights on this post and how it relates to communication and influence well beyond your management team. The ideas are applicable to communication with your executive board, your customers, your parents, your family, even yourself.

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  2. Melissa, what I love about this post is how it follows proven-sales mantra “know thy customer.” In this case, the customer is internal, but understanding needs, goals, timing, and relevance to that particular customer still holds. Great job on adapting that strategy in an easy to follow and easy to incorporate “how to” on selling to VITO.

  3. Thanks Kelly! I had to look up “VITO – Very Important Top Officer. Thanks for the fun acronym!

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