August 17, 2015

Dealing with noise


Working your way through a decision making chain presents two inevitabilities: the same old questions keep coming up, you butt against vested interests.

Dealing with old questions should get easier every time – homework pays off and delivery improves. The only risk is coming across as irritated or bored by the repetition. Assume each new person, seeing the situation and the risks for the first time, is quizzing you for the right reasons; they genuinely want to understand what’s going on.

Your response? “Great question. Let me tell you how …”

Vested interests are trickier.

If you present a new way of doing something, you’re suggesting that the old way isn’t as good. Anyone involved in, who decided on, or benefits from the old way is likely to feel threatened – and may lash out.

Best case, they realise the potential upside, get on board, and up your question-answer count.

Worst case, they block progress and lob grenades. “It might work there but it’ll never work here. We tried that three years ago. The technology isn’t ready. It’s an interesting concept. Let me understand every single detail (but I have no time right now).”

Your response? Give them a way to invest again: bring them onto the team, ask for their help, show them your thanks, give them some credit.

Getting vested interests on side is about finding a way so everyone wins. Same as everything else.

Skippy Strategy: Work out whether the noise is genuine Q&A or political manoeuvring. Adjust as necessary.