In this blog post your key learning topic is : how to get a yes for an increase in funding for your project. The key takeaway is: create a compelling WHY to motivate a change of mind.
Do you have find 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 provide you with:
- learning prompts
- case study example of going from a NO to a YES
- ideas on what steps to take to next
To get a senior stakeholder to say yes (especially to anything involving a change in cost) you need to create a create a compelling why. A compelling WHY creates the motivation for someone to change their mind.
- 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 the business outcome (profit, strategy, financial, marketing, reputation etc) ?
- Is my idea aligned to business strategy?
- Has my idea been tried before? 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?
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’ and at worse ‘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.
- 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)
- I researched what a poor quality delivery would actually mean when implemented in production. The impact I found was : catastrophic business failure, regulatory breaches and huge (newspaper story worthy) customer financial loss
- I put a 3 page slide pack together with 3-4 bullet point per slide which succinctly stated option, risk, cost and recommendation (yes/no)
- I got the business sponsor to publicly back the best estimate to his General Manager (this took some time to influence)
- I then presented the options paper to the steering committee which consisted of the CIO and the CEO’s direct reports
- 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.
For some context, I have 10 years deep technical estimation experience and I had the most experienced person on the programme run the numbers. 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.
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 would need to happen to get a YES?”
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 the Tap into Your Power coaching series.