Program Management

Influencing without Authority …

Most of us work regularly with other (both internal and external to our organization) over whom we wouldn’t have a direct line of authority, but would need to persuade them to do something to move our program forward.

Yes, it doesn’t sound easy and it isn’t!

Scrum practitioners (SM, or PO) will also constantly find themselves in situations where they either have to say “No” to stakeholders (PO) or work with others to remove impediments (SM).

The key is to prepare yourself before you find yourself in such situations so that you are able to navigate easily and get things done.

Here’s how:

Expand your network

Networking should not be restricted to merely reaching out to others when you need a job! It is important to network within your organization as well, so that you get to know members of other teams in an informal setting. Mingle with others, discuss general topics over a coffee (or ice cream, if you insist!). This will prove helpful when there is a circumstance when you need to get something done and need their help either directly or indirectly.

Act/Think like a Consultant

As a Program Manager, I constantly have to play the role of a Consultant in order to understand a problem. Most of the problems are about a sentence long and I need to define it not only for myself but also for the solution-seeker. The way you approach the problem will define how you will find its solution. Doing it methodically will give your stakeholder(s) a lot of confidence. That will help them clear any impediments that you will face in order to resolve the issue.

Build Credibility

Whenever you join a new team or organization, it is almost like the feeling that you have when open a new bank account – its a good feeling but there is zero balance! In this case,  it is your credibility. The team might not be skeptical of what you can do, but they don’t have any track record of you achieving something to know that you can get the job done. So what do you do?

I’ve taken the approach of taking up smaller more realistic goals initially to convey the message that I mean business. This helps the team know that I am interested in delivering results and builds its confidence in me. Later, when I need to take on a bigger task with lots of hurdles and aggressive deadlines, the team will be there to back me up and help me in execution and delivery.

Be data driven, use facts not opinion

W. Edwards Deming is credited for the quote, “In God we trust, for all others bring data” – indeed do that!

From the perspective of the person whom you need to influence – why should they drop everything they are doing to help you? You will need to make a compelling case. Collect all the relevant data and focus on any customer impact that might result if the issue were not resolved. Be earnest in your research and honest in sharing what you have and that will often help you get what you need.

These four methods will normally do the trick – have you ever tried something else? Has it worked? Do share your experiences.♦


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