I had a fabulous conversation this week with a client who is head of technology strategy for an insurance company.
He has come to a roadblock in his efforts to shepherd a major technology decision through the ExCo that I thought might interest you.
A dominant decision maker is wedded to an out-of-date view, which he has formed through discussions with friends rather than experts. This not-uncommon challenge is compromising my client's ability to get the best decision on a major technology investment.
The solution is of course challenging, but tweaking a Watch Out pattern before working out how to navigate it through the hierarchy was key. Here are the three steps we took:
Firstly, remember that a deductive Watch Out pattern starts with a positive statement to build rapport and then alerts to negative events on the horizon. Here is what that looks like:
Statement – We have been going well with project alpha
Comment – However, there are risks ahead that will affect project alpha
Recommendation – Therefore, address risks
Please note that I have revised the language being used here to describe Watch Out to improve on the language from the book. We too learn and grow!
Secondly, tweak the pattern to begin by validating the ExCo member's point of view before ‘adding to it' with new information in the comment and recommendation. Here is how that worked:
Statement – Previously XYZ solution was the best available solution even though it required a number of workarounds to meet our needs. He then explained why this was so in fleshing out this part of his paper.
Comment – However, now that ABC new technologies have evolved, DEF is a superior solution that requires fewer workarounds. He then put his case as to why DEF is now the best solution.
Recommendation – Therefore, we recommend investing in DEF solution.
This is the skeleton of the story that he felt would work.
Thirdly, think deeply about how to shepherd the story through the hierarchy to influence the key decision makers.
This involved working out who would be best to deliver this message to whom and in what format.
My client thought deeply about the relationships he has built across the leadership over the past year to work out who was best placed to influence the particular ExCo member and his peers.
He has intentionally nurtured these relationships for a time such as this, which is now paying dividends.
Without having these relationships to leverage, he would not have the influence needed to see his technology investment through.
I hope that helps. More next week.
PS – I am starting a podcast called Cutting Through in the coming weeks. As Clarity First members, you have early access. Watch out (!) for an email bringing you the first episode.