Over the past months I have been shaking up the realities of a team that is supposed to deliver IT services to my team. Deadlines are tight, stakes are high and communication gaps are deep.In God we trust and to Virginia I now pray.
Upfront I should be posting a big disclaimer on this article, stating that you are reading only one part of the story: mine. To my experience, the parties on either side of a communication gap tell stories that have very few elements in common.
So here’s my part: one of the big deliverables on the critical path of my project requires a custom-built web-application. From the beginning I have been putting quite some pressure implicitly (never explicitly: I’m slicker than most) suggesting that IT guys were incompetent if they were unable to commit to a timing, a budget and a delivery date. To me that seemed obvious, so I used every legitimate power at hand to make my point. As a result, 4 liaison persons have been appointed, some of the C-level hotshots are copied in emails and next week a web-programmer will start physically in our team, expatriated from the IT department. As I said, stakes are high, deadlines are tight … and I’m the bad guy. Juicy details all over the place, I can feel the spotlights burning on my skin. How fascinating!
As I am writing this I realize that I am on an important crossroad. I now have to suspect myself first and make a choice between being right or being in relationship. Arguing and justifying my past actions will not speed up results; neither will it close the gap that I am – at least partially – responsible for. Here are the facts: the deadline is not-negotiable, the programmer starts on Monday and all the rest is my interpretation.
One of my biggest flaws that I am aware of is my need to win at all cost in all situations – when it matters, when it doesn’t, and when it’s totally beside the point. So I pray to Virginia Satir to help me out here. Virginia Satir is a family therapist whose models and techniques are highly applicable in organizational settings. The wonder I am hoping for is that the insights of the Satir Change Model will keep me on the right track here. It is a model that highly resembles the classical Kübler-Ross model of change.
According to the Satir model, the resistance stage is triggered by a foreign element. Next, people get out of the dip by discovering a transforming idea that shows how the foreign element can benefit them. So here’s my next week’s challenge: 1. discover the foreign element (it could be me!); 2. Find out how this can become a transforming idea; 3. Stay in relationship and keep away from being right. Phew … Virginia, to thee I pray!!