“It’s amazing what we can get done when it doesn’t matter who gets the credit” (A Former Director where I work)
About 13 years ago I was asked to join a new team at work. It was a team that was charged with setting standards for Project Management that would eventually become the basis for all of the project management discipline for the entire company. In the beginning there were only a few of us, less than 10 people. Our director had a vision for how he wanted us to develop the standards and implement them, and he knew it would take some years to get them all in place.
One morning we were in a meeting with him. We were discussing some of the tools that we were evaluating, and some of the processes we were looking to adopt. It wasn’t like no one was doing project management in the company. In fact, part of why we existed as a team was that the opposite problem existed. Everyone was doing PM work, but all in their own way.
Our director wanted us to find which of the processes that already existed were the best fit to the standards we’d been studying. He wanted us to implement that process and move things forward. One process in particular I thought was good, but needed some modifications. The director looked me square in the eye and asked what about implementing it without changes did I not understand? Well, nothing of course.
It wasn’t that day that he uttered the quote above, but it was that day that I realized how he meant it. By choosing a process that was already in place with one of our major departments, and implementing it, we would gain instant credibility and momentum. It didn’t matter that the process had flaws, what mattered was that we would have buy in from that department, and they would become our advocates for change.
As time went on, we did implement that process without changes. Over time, as it became a standard practice, we used a disciplined change process to address the flaws. Today it is a robust process that works very well.
Or skunk works team had worked hard on understanding industry best practices. We knew what would be the best way to do that process and others. But the 7 or 8 of us didn’t have enough voice to implement change. At best we would get compliance, but not cooperation. When we let the very programs we were leading believe that what they were doing was the right process, and we needed to communize it, our momentum grew. It didn’t matter whose idea it was, it mattered that we were all working together toward the common goal.
Very often we all have great ideas about how to accomplish things. And we know that if the other person, or group would just see it our way, we could make headway. Too often we try to be bull-headed and push our idea, when the better thing to do is to present the facts, and let people draw their own conclusions. When we do this, when the other person is involved in getting the idea moving, then they have ownership for the change. Once that happens with enough people, all we have to do is sit back and witness the magic.
I have had people ask me “But, what if I have the great idea, and someone else takes credit for my work?” To them I say that it is important to make sure your management knows what your ideas are, and how you implemented them by letting others come to the same conclusion. In the end, your organization will benefit from the idea, and those that matter will know the role you played in not only having the spark of the idea, but helping it to germinate in the organization.
This set of principles is about Winning People to Our Way of Thinking. When our way of thinking and their way of thinking are the same, we have hit pay dirt!
Principle 16 – Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.