I'm a pragmatic realist. So, in my program management workshop and in my geographically distributed teams workshop, and in a number of my other talks and workshops this year (and next year), I'm talking about influence.
Of course, I'm addressing the issue of influence without authority. You never have enough authority to do the job you have to do. That's a given. A lot of what program managers do is influence. Great testers do, too. And, since program managers work across the organization, their sphere of influence is large. Great testers have an informal sphere of influence across the organization which comes from their knowledge, not from their positional authority.
The approach I'm using is Genie Laborde's approach which is from her book, Influencing with Integrity: Management Skills for Communication and Negotiation. The five step approach is this:
A. Aim for a specific result.
B. Be positive.
C. Take in the sensory data.
D. Dovetail your desires with those of the other person.
E. Entertain short- and long-term objectives.
And, you know what? Sometimes, influence doesn't work. Sometimes, you move to negotiation. I like principled negotiation, where you and the other person work to understand your principles behind your positions, a la Fisher, Ury & Patton in Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. You then negotiate on the principles. (I'm reading other books on negotiation, too.) And, you know what? Sometimes, that doesn't work either.
If you are working with unreasonable people such as people playing zero-sum games, nothing you try is going to work. In that case, you can give up with influence or negotiation, and work around those people. And, yes, I have tips on how to work around people. Because, I am nothing if not pragmatic!
But most of us work with reasonable people–at least, most of the time. And, if you want to investigate what you can do with influence, I have these opportunities upcoming. In Vancouver Oct 24, I'll be leading a half-day tutorial at Much Ado About Agile 2011. I'll be leading a half-day session at AYE the following week. (AYE is sold out this year.) I'll be in Potsdam, at Agile Testing Days, Nov 14 (and the rest of the week) leading the Making Geographically Distributed Projects Work tutorial, aimed at testers and program managers. Agile testers and test managers have a particularly difficult time with influence, especially if they are not collocated with their developers.
Please join me in Vancouver or Potsdam. I would love to see you there.