Tap into your super powers #1 – What to do when you keep getting told No

Key Learning point: The key learning point in this article is how to get a YES for your best ideas from your senior stakeholders (especially when you keep hearing a No to your good ideas).

To create this change you will need to create a compelling WHY to motivate a change of mind.  

And, we will also work through a case study on how do you get additional time and funding  approved.

Do your best ideas always get a no?

Do you find it hard to get endorsement for changes to scope, estimates, cost or resource hires?

If yes, then this post will help you do just that by providing you with:

  • learning prompts
  • case study example – going from a NO to a YES
  • ideas on next steps

Learning Prompts

To get a senior stakeholder to say yes (especially to anything involving a change in cost) you need to create a compelling why. A compelling WHY creates the motivation for someone to change their mind.

Ask yourself:

  • What is the biggest problem facing my stakeholder?
  • How does my idea help with this?
  • Can my idea help solve my stakeholder’s problem in someway?
  • What would it mean for this problem to be solved?
  • Who else will benefit?
  • How will it improve business outcomes (profit, strategy, financial, marketing, reputation etc) ?
  • Is my idea aligned to business strategy?
  • Has my idea been tried before?  (And, what happened?)
  • Are there quality reasons for pursuing something that has failed before?
  • What does this idea add or take away from my current role?

 

Case Study

In one Test Manager role I was in a few years ago, I had inherited an estimate that could be at best described as ‘optimistic’ but I would describe as ‘crazy’.

I decided to ask not for the 23 days (which had been approved) estimated but instead ask for approval of a 288 day estimate.

The Delivery Manager’s response: “You’d have to get the CIO to approve that’

My response: “Ok, I will get that!’

And… I did.

How?

  1. I researched what had happened in the past (the project had been tried and failed 3 times over 10 years due to a lack of or poor testing)
  2. I researched what a poor quality delivery would actually mean if implemented in production. The impact I found was : catastrophic business failure, regulatory breaches and huge (newspaper story worthy) customer financial loss
  3. I put a succinct options paper together – this was a 3 page slide pack with 3-4 bullet point per slide which succinctly stated option, risk, cost and recommendation (yes/no)
  4. I got the business sponsor to publicly back the best estimate to his General Manager  (this took some time to influence)
  5. I then presented the options paper to the steering committee which consisted of the CIO and the CEO’s direct reports
  6. And, the CIO approved the new estimate – in fact the whole committee did

How did I ‘win’ the argument?

I pitched every risk with a direct (yet implied) statement which if that risk came true would directly lead to the CIO losing his job. 

Because the risk that poor quality would create in a production environment was so great to the company, any realisation of this risk would mean business failure (or close too) and that would mean no more jobs for the CIO or the other members of the committee.

 

Extra context

For some context, I have well over 10 years technical estimation experience and I had the most experienced person on the programme run the numbers as well.  I knew the estimate was right.

I also knew to pursue the other estimate would lead to project failure or even (if the project actually got into production) potentially business failure. I had 100% faith in myself and my team that we were the best people to deliver this work and I had 100% belief that I could get the CIO’s approval with a fair argument for the new estimate.

 

Take Action

Next time you get a No, ask yourself – do I 100% believe in my proposal? And if the answer is yes, then ask the person who said No:

“What needs to happen to get a YES?”  

And then?

GO FOR IT!

Would you like to work more on developing this skill set?

Do you have career goals to work on that you would like support and coaching in?

Have you thought of getting your own career coach to help you take the next step in your career?

If yes, then find out more about my  Tap into Your Power coaching series. 

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