Resource:How to maintain your vision despite political pushback

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Alex Kneier is a junior at Ohio University, pursuing his undergraduate degrees in both Entrepreneurship and Management.  He is a visionary, an aspiring entrepreneur, and an inherent maker.  Being a maker and embracing the 3D printing movement has shaped Alex’s mindset toward innovation and the speed at which it can be accomplished.  Passionate for the outdoors and sustainability, he expects to one day change the world through means of social entrepreneurship. Focusing on school and graduating with honors currently takes precedence in his life, but in his spare time, he works in leadership roles for two entrepreneurial clubs: Enactus and OU Entrepreneurs.  Alex is also working on small business ventures of his own and takes time to improve upon his own personal development.

Whenever a vision is created to expand something that currently exists, or furthermore to create something new, there is bound to be “Pushback” or resistance.  This resistance comes from creating something that is new and unknown.  “Pushback” is essentially any outside challenge you may encounter while creating change.  This Wiki discusses how overcoming those challenges and moreover how to be best prepared to create the optimal result for your venture.  Pushback is not inherently, it can sometimes bring new ideas, or shed new light on a situation that you had not thought of; the tips below are about how to get the most out of any situation where you may experience “Pushback”.

Tips for Others

  • It's critical to maintain the sense of professionalism while conducting business and remembering who is “in charge” in each situation.  Maintaining relationships is paramount to ensuring the success of the project as a whole as each member of the team is important.  One missing piece can put a wrench in the works.
  • Surround yourself with others who are passionate about your project and are willing to give honest feedback. Having this type of input is extremely valuable to help guide projects from wasting time on possible dead end ideas or trying to reinvent the wheel.
  • Not all pushback is a bad thing. Sometimes resistance can be a sign that your vision might not be fully developed. Maybe you are targeting the wrong audience, or not fully addressing the real needs of the community. While it is important to be persistent with your idea, it pays to listen to the feedback others are giving so you can identify things you may have overlooked.
  • Be cognizant of promoting with keywords such as “entrepreneurship” since terms like these may scare away part of the audience you want to appeal to.
  • Highlighting the number of people that your project will benefit as well as how many people are currently backing your project helps when presenting to an institution.

Lessons learned
When one has a “vision” that they are presenting to others, especially superiors, it is vital to go to the meeting with a developed plan. Something that clearly and coherently explains what your goals are. This not only allows for easier communication between multiple parties, but also demonstrates your commitment to your idea.
Communicating with superiors can be a delicate process. Often they are those who are older, have more experience, and more “political” weight than you. It is important to treat them with the respect you would a higher-up, however age and experience does not equate validity. If you strongly believe in something, stand up for it, and be prepared to have a solid defense.
If one is proposing an idea to a large institution, it is beneficial to have a team/network of support. Though it may be possible to complete a task alone, the more individuals that see the importance in your work and are willing to contribute and endorse your cause, the easier it may be for your goal to be achieved.
Types of pushback

  • Academia: Pushback may come from within your college or university. Sometimes it may be difficult to persuade faculty and administration to join your cause.
  • Governmental: Pushback may arise from restrictions set forth legally by a governing body (state or federal).  It can also be derailed by political agendas and funding depending on the topic.    
  • Communal: Pushback may also come from the general community at large due to varying beliefs or disconnection with your goal.

Success Stories
For the duration of Alex’s studies at Ohio State University, there had not been a common place for students to meet up and collaborate on projects or to solve different problems on their school’s campus. This was detrimental to Ohio State, as most other schools with Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E) already had or were starting to build incubators, maker-spaces, and design studios on their campuses.  The concept of a dedicated space to ideating and interdisciplinary collaboration was becoming more important to the success of a school’s I&E program, and Alex wanted to make sure Ohio State did not fall behind.
The idea for the C-Suite, initially the C.H.I.E.F building, came when Alex and some of his fellow I&E students heard that their President was moving out of his house in the center of campus to a new location.  When they heard this building needed a new purpose, Alex and the other students jumped on the idea to make this into an on-campus incubator.  Upon starting the proposal process, the team quickly realized that this would not be much of a smooth process.
The faculty and students the team spoke with agreed that a physical place for collaboration on campus was a necessary improvement.  Although the idea was received well, the deans and other administration on campus did not take the student’s plans to be a serious proposal.  The team realized that they would need to put together something more concrete and convincing in order to show the administration that they were serious about moving forward with this plan and would need their approval and help.
The team struggled with a lack of faculty assistance and overall funding for months before they received steady assistance from faculty and eventual financial backing.  Alex and his team learned that it is important for change to come from within first.  From there, getting students on board with their idea and receiving the support of committed faculty would guarantee success for their incubator.