Influencing Change

Posted by Alan Barr on Thu 16 May 2019

Change

These days I think about helping others change and progress. I work in a solid trusting organization but humans being humans change is hard. I am sharing resources I have found and blended. Incorporating any of this into your process is going to make anyone succesful in convincing others.

Negotiation

The book Never Split the Difference is an amazing resource for the best techniques for negotiation and advanced listening skills. The core techniques learned from the most difficult negotiations boils down to labels and mirrors while asking calibrated questions and using silence effectively. Convincing others to do something different is difficult unless these techniques are used. Being aware of Daniel Kahneman's two system's of thinking is key if you need someone to act and act quickly. Target emotions and not logic. If you want people to act on a change frame the issue as a loss and not as potential upside. Another skill to study up on is the use of tonality and Jordan Belfort is a master at it.

Selling Change

Part of dealing with software bugs is convincing others they are worth fixing. I had the luxury to attend a testing conference where I met Huib Schoots and learned about his method for using stories to guide making bug reports more impactful. I put some of these tactics into place not only for bug reporting but also for teachable moments with developers. Why should we avoid gold plating? Why should we ship versus continuing to polish? What needs to be incorporated in any story is what is being lost and what the person you are influencing can do to fix it. It is imperative one does not sacrifice their credibility and remain ethical. We want to encourage others to make a good change that improves their lives.

Loss

Going back to Kahneman's research, loss is incredibly motivating for humans and positive outcomes much less so. I had the opportunity to touch up a slide deck presenting a major business decision related to whether to grow staff to chase additional business. This person I helped is at a director level and uses data to convey what the business needs to do to change. Knowing Kahneman's research and the importance of emotional language I punched up those slides. Great opportunity? No, a great missed opportunity. This fundamental change led to the business making the right decision to staff up to take on that opportunity.