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Ripple Effects, No, and Chips On Shoulders…

Published: July 25, 2018

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A little narrative….

I’m not sure the C-suite truly understand how their decisions impact the team! It’s easy to ask for that in a conference room…but someone will need to DO the work. The just don’t stop to think about the blast radius for their decisions.Interesting. Did someone push back and explain the impact on the team?

Not really. We did hint at it though, but they kept pushing and we retreated. First, it would take a while to explain. Second, by opening that door, you open the door to tons of micromanagement. I’d have to answer “so what is X working on” for every member of the team. Or we’ll have to go line by line and give a wishy washy estimate on every line-item.That all makes sense. So it sounds like you just want to say “not now”, and for that to be taken on face value. You want leadership to just trust you?

Sure. I mean who doesn’t want to be trusted? I just think they’re not aware of how much we actually have on our plate at the moment. And that what they’re asking for isn’t as simple as they think.Why don’t they know what you have on your plate? I’m assuming the team isn’t slacking, right?

We’ve got a TON on our plate. And I’ll be honest, it isn’t moving all that quickly. Part of the reason we have a ton on our plate, is that we keep saying yes to this stuff. There’s a ton of support needed for legacy decisions. And the slower we go, the more time they have to come up with new ideas. Honestly, I somehow feel it is not in my best interest to say no…we have a culture of being proactive here.Is anyone slacking?

No. Not at all. I mean…well, ok, I have doubts about this one team, and we did have this embarrassing misstep…but overall…OK. And about the complexity? Why would they assume it is simple?

Ugh. When we bring up the complexity, we have to bring up all of the tech debt we’re currently managing. And the complexity of the current org structure…all of these handoffs. They’re tired of hearing about it. I mean on some level it SHOULD be simpler, but not nearly as simple as they think. Honestly, the last time they did something similar was like 20 years ago. The world has changed. They just don’t get it…BUT, there’s an ounce of truth in what they’re saying.Backing up I’m hearing a couple things. I’m hearing that you should probably say No, but that saying No doesn’t feel like an option. You’ve dropped hints, and they aren’t biting. Leadership has some cause to ask questions, but they’re also somewhat complicit in the problem. You’re eager to please and don’t want to be pegged as obstructionist. It sounds like a wicked loop of sorts.

Who will break the cycle? Someone should break the cycle, right? As long as this persists, things will just get worse and trust and confidence will degrade further.

Hmmm. I see what you mean. Someone needs to take the high road it sounds like. And swallow their pride. I guess I could do that?At the moment they have absolutely no sense of the business impact of their decisions. I’d say that as a first step you need to establish some flow in the system, even if that means putting some items on hold. And then lower utilization rates such that emerging opportunities like this can be addressed with minimal disruption.

But I mean that will require us to be way more transparent. And tell stakeholders that their work in on hold. I’m worried they will micromanage everything. They’ll think we are crazy!You have to start. You have to take the high road. They don’t know how this works. You do. You need to show the way. You need to ask them to take a risk on you, and then — in return — show them some positive results. I know having the burden of proof SUCKS. It probably seems unfair.

It does. It just feels like I should be trusted to do what I am trained to do…Stepping back, have your explained, for example, how much all those legacy product decisions cost to maintain? How do these interruptions impact throughput capacity? How have cycle times suffered as debt increased? How is high WIP impacting the team?

Not really…So now is a good time to start. Work on flow and visibility. Just swallow your pride for a bit and bring it to a better place.