Have you been in a position where you must implement a solution that you disagree with?
This is the situation Anya found herself in recently, which set up a great discussion around trade-offs, politics and what to do when your CEO is one of your objectors.
In tonight’s working session we helped Anya craft a story that has some useful lessons.
In sum, respectfully documenting disagreement can place responsibility where it belongs while also providing one last chance to reverse the decision.
- Disagreement can be respectful
- Feeling pushed into a taking a poor decision may signal that you are taking on someone else’s responsibility
- Communicating your disagreement can put that responsibility back on the decision makers
Disagreement can be respectful
We played around for quite a while to work out how to present this story so that it both gave the leaders what they were insisting upon while explaining the costs of this approach.
We decided to
- Avoid going in ‘all guns blazing’ and recommending the Clarity solution given it would get the general manager, executive director and CEO offside.
- Stick with the leaders’ preferred recommendation but help educate them about some areas where they were ill informed. For example, they were conflating ‘on prem Clarity’ and ‘Cloud Clarity’. Their high-cost experiences were based on the on prem version of Clarity being used for project payslips, not the Cloud version Anya preferred to use for project management.
Feeling pushed into a taking a poor decision may signal that you are taking on someone else’s responsibility
Part of the difficulty in crafting a story like this is the emotional frustration that can get in the way. As Anya said, she had expected to sit down over the weekend with a couple of gins and tonic to work out what to say to her leaders.
The reason it felt difficult is that she was feeling the heat of a poor decision that would be costly and time consuming to implement in comparison with her preferred solution.
Laying out the trade-offs for the leaders gave her an opportunity to pass the responsibility for those trade-offs back up the chain to those who were making the decision.
If the reports were costly or late, it would no longer be her problem.
Communicating your disagreement can put that responsibility back on the decision makers (and protect you too)
Leaders are charged with making decisions with the whole organisation in mind, which can lead to unpopular decisions. Sometimes, however, these decisions can also be ill informed simply because they are not close enough to the trade-offs incurred.
This is where a delicate effort to convey those trade-offs while respecting someone’s position is essential to return the responsibility for the costs of a decision to the decision makers.
Tonight we took two steps to achieve that. We
- Balanced curtesy with a directness that meant they could not avoid seeing the cost to the business they were recommending. For example, we edited the so what …
- From this … Given our existing relationship, I recommend proceeding with Service Now for the 5 PMOs, despite delayed reporting and greater cost when compared against Clarity.
- To this … I recommend proceeding with Service Now for the 5 PMOs, prioritizing our existing relationships over delayed reporting and greater cost compared against Clarity.
- Structured the story to compare the two options by factually comparing them to draw out the trade-offs they were making.
I have laid out the storyline below for your use, but do encourage you to check out the recording further down. It was a great conversation.
I hope that helps. More next week.