How successful are you at getting business cases approved?

SmartPulse -- our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership -- tracks feedback from more than 210,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

How successful are you at getting business cases approved?

  • Extremely -- My business cases always get approved. 8.3%
  • Very -- I get most of my business cases approved. 66.9%
  • Somewhat -- I occasionally get business cases approved. 20.3%
  • Not very -- It's not often I get a business case approved. 2.3%
  • Not at all -- My business cases never get approved. 2.3%

Getting to “yes” requires focus. Business cases are the heart of investment decisions. While many of you get most of your cases approved, there are likely opportunities to make your cases more effective. Three key components of your business case -- defining the problem, explaining your idea, and articulating the benefits -- do more to get your case approved than anything else. The more clearly you can spell out these three sections, the higher the likelihood of idea approval. Reflect on cases that weren’t approved. Look for flaws or weaknesses in these three areas. Understanding what you missed in a disapproved case can help you craft a more effective case the next time around.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He's the author of three leadership books: "One Piece of Paper," "Lead Inside the Box" and "The Elegant Pitch."