Genuine Buy-In – the power of CAPI

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My work with organisations often involves getting groups together so they can see their work situation, make decisions on what needs to change and put these into action.    Which means at some point in the preparation, we are going to be asking “right, so who do we need to have in the room”?

That’s where I lean one of the brilliant concepts of Dr. Ichak Adizes, called CAPI.

I’ve gone through other aspects of Adizes work before, particularly his Four Managerial Roles.  His related work on the Business Lifecycle is also brilliant.  And for who we need in the room…we can’t go past CAPI.


Here’s the idea – if we want to get something done, we need to have in the room authority, power and influence.

Authority – those authorised to make changes.  Look at the org chart for this – the ‘official’ channels of decision-making, or the process by which you make decisions if you’re a bit more self-organising.    If you’re changing the call centre, you are going to need the call centre manager involved. If you’re messing with the money, finance has probably has a say.

Seems obvious, but if we stop there, we aren’t living in the real world on how things get done.  The real world requires us to also include in the room…

Power – those that have the ability to make decisions either get implemented, or not get implemented, regardless of the fact that they are not part of ‘official’ channels.  The blindingly obvious one here is the people that are going to have to do things differently.  They have the power to make things a lot easier…or a lot harder. 

Adizes uses the example of a shoe manufacturer with a brilliant new strategy, which only takes those on the frontline simply removing one shoe from every second box to make it tank.  That’s Power.  And we need Power in the room.

Influence – the final category we need in the room are those that have Influence, which means those that can’t directly affect whether things change…but those that can affect change listen to them and respect them.  These people matter too.

Authority, Power and Influence.  Miss out on any one of these, and you are pouring water into a bucket with a hole in it.

Once we have these elements in the room, we need to bring it together – to Coalesce it into a group, into one.  This is the first and final element, and gives us CAPI.

And with CAPI, we now have a real shot at the decisions that are made in the room being halfway decent, and actually coming to fruition.


No or Negative-Shows

Some people don’t show up, or if they do show up, they’re not ready to contribute constructively.  Adizes has a great expression for this – the ‘pre-problem’, meaning the problem that needs to be addressed before you can tackle the problem you need the room for in the first place.

Failing to properly respect the pre-problem means you’ll barge ahead with the meeting either without a key element, or with a negative element in the room.  This will result in a decision that once again doesn’t get implemented as well as required, leading to more disconnection, and the cycle goes around again.

Better to spend time getting to the bottom of the pre-problem.  To not do so is an act of avoidance.


Inviting full CAPI can mean tens of people in the room, maybe even more.  And…sometimes, this is necessary – there have been many times where I have run what’s called ‘large group process’ due to the importance of creating CAPI for the health of overall show.

Sometimes, however, the work itself requires a smaller group.  The rule of thumb here is:

All those who would be part of CAPI need to be represented in the room by someone they trust. 

Which means when they find out who that person was, their natural reaction will be close to “as long as they were in the room, I’m OK with what comes out”.

You can do fancy things like getting groups to choose representatives and the like.  Or you can just have a proper think and discussion.  Either way if an element of CAPI is missing…decisions and implementation are at risk.

Remember, there’s no letter in CAPI that stands for ‘invite the people you like or who will support you’.  Unless you’re organising your own birthday party, that’s no method for choosing a workgroup. 

Bringing it Home

Get serious about creating CAPI in the room and put in the effort to address the pre-problems.  It’s the difficult work of leadership, and absolutely necessary if you want good decisions, and particularly if you want decisions to actually come to fruition.

Which is what leadership is all about.

OK, now over to you.

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