5 for 5 blog – Know the limits

8 Feb


“I’m sorry, we can’t support this initiative. There’s just too much risk.”

I wish I could count the number of times I have heard that in my career. And while early in my career, I would this as a “brush off” or a “stiff arm”, I have learned that almost always it was shared by resource strapped engineering managers and product teams.

However, after years of pitching change ideas, the one thing I have learned beyond a shadow of a doubt is:

Everyone has a limit, a threshold, that once crossed will move them to action.

The key is understanding what those limits are and why they were established in the first place. Often changing a process or part with mission critical value is something to be treated with the utmost care. And typically the person or team, “standing in the way” of the change is charged with product and customer quality, which is absolutely to be respected at all times.

What pitching so many times has taught me though is to listen, to empathize with my peer group. We have also seen the value of staking the change on an objective much higher than our own departments benefit. In doing, so, it allows us to share the story of short or long term risk that we all have to face. Lastly, is that once the team decides to commit to the change, you absolutely have to stay right by their side. Meaning if you through the new change over the wall, others will begin to question the validity of the need for change.

Admittedly there have been many times where ideas that realistically were a benefit for savings were shot down, when we listened carefully to why our peers were hesitant to move ahead, approached it from a purpose to protect the company, and worked side-by-side with them I have seen two specific times were nearly impossible changes were driven in amazing times.

So don’t get discouraged when you get push back on an idea that there is “too much risk”, take a step back and believe the best intentions of the other team and enter into a collaborative discussion with them by listening, raising the bar, and showing the will to act.

Here are this week’s 5 for 5 articles:

An Industrial-Age Solution To Email Overload – by Cal Newport – via Fast Company

13 Tips for Getting More Reading Done – by Gretchen Rubin – via gretchenrubin.com

Some Heresy on Wall Street: Look Past the Quarter – by Andrew Ross Sorkin – via the NY Times

How I Keep Up with an Unrelenting Work Pace – by Stanley McChrystal – via Linked In

We got 10 CEOs to tell us their one killer interview question for new hires – by Jason Karaian – via Quartz

All the best, kevin