Gaining Executive Buy-In: Simplify the Message!

Gaining executive buy-in and measuring success (often to get that buy-in) are consistent themes of exploration among Consortium Members. Recently, Matt Seaman hosted a Consortium Conversation about this topic; enjoy the excerpt below.

“They just don’t understand!” (yes, they do) 

How to Approach Discussions with Senior Leaders

It can be frustrating when we are not able to secure the funding, resources, tools, or prioritization on a topic that we see as critical to the success of our organization. These frustrations can fuel a perspective that decision-makers at the executive level just don’t understand what most of us are experiencing or what we need.

In reality, executives need to balance a wide range of decisions across a broad set of responsibilities within the resources available. When we communicate to executives, we need to think about their perspectives and ensure we are speaking to their pains, gains, and tasks – remembering they cannot know the downstream level of detail about most topics.

“Almost every topic (they hear about) will be urgent, high priority, or both.”

Melissa Dawn, How Do You Communicate with C-Level Executives?

When we communicate with executives, keep these recommendations (paraphrased from Melissa Dawn’s article) in mind:

  • Be Clear. Be straightforward and succinct on the purpose of the discussion from your point of view. What do you need? What are you asking? What do they need to know?
  • Be Fast. Get to your point quickly with minimal ‘wandering’ or added details.  
  • Align to Strategic Objectives. Ensure your purpose speaks to what the executives are trying to accomplish.
  • Include Metrics. Include the right and minimally needed measures to highlight your purpose.
  • Be VERY open to feedback. Challenging questions and pushback can feel personal, but it’s not. Be objective and listen. It is their job to clarify and understand.

Measuring Success

Over the years, Consortium Members have captured a wealth of information about measures for varying uses. The right measures, at the right time, with the right associated action, can be a powerful communication tool at all levels of an organization.

Public Resources

Understanding Success by Channel

An ongoing project by Consortium Members to measure engagement and success. This resource offers a short list of measures to track over time, providing visibility into your organization’s total demand for knowledge and how that demand is being fulfilled. Hear how Members Christina Roosen (Akamai) & Amy Dotson (Smarsh) are calculating these metrics.

Measurement Matters v6

A foundational document that helps KCS leaders:

  • Understand the dynamics of a successful KCS adoption
  • Distinguish the four phases of a KCS adoption
  • Identify the appropriate measures and indicators for each phase
  • Recognize the key trends, relevant milestones, and indicators that reflect progress. 

Member-Only Resources

Performance Assessment Indicators Project

A project by Consortium Members to investigate the “health” and understanding of our measures. This included the development of a Measurement Health Assessment Worksheet to help uncover how measures are being used, if they align to the Principles of an Adaptive Organization, and what maturity we have with our measures.


Explore the Consortium Digital Library to find all of these details and far more!


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