Here's a grand picture of 14 Leprechauns. It's a puzzle of three large pieces. The second image will show the top two piece flipped. Now you see 15 leprechauns instead of 14!
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Challenge: Guinea worm disease
Intervention: Focused on 3 vital behaviors: 1) filter drinking water 2) don’t enter the drinking water with infected limbs 3) hold other members accountable to doing the first two behaviors.
Results: Reduced the number of Guinea worm cases from 3.5 million in 1986 to fewer than 10,000 by 2006. 11 of the 20 countries considered endemic in 1986 were certified as free of the Guinea worm disease as of 2007. Source
Challenge: Scientist collaboration
Research conducted at Bell Labs has shown that the single best predictor of two scientists collaborating with one another was actually the distance between their offices. Namely, scientists who worked next to each other were three times more likely to collaborate than those who worked 30 feet from each other. Similar results confirming the importance of proximity have been replicated in other studies. Source
Conclusion: The leprechaun is actually persuading not influencing. He's not after a win/win. To get your project done well requires your stakeholders. Influencing them to participate is a win/win. Here are some additional tips to help you grow your influencing muscle:
I attended a session at Training 2017 on a book I read years ago Influencers: The Power to Change Anything. They recommend integrating four or more different influencing strategies to connect effectively. Later in this article, you'll learn of the six influencing types from the Influencers book.
Most project managers stick with one, for example, threaten the stakeholders by escalating to their leaders. If you do this because you haven't thought through your influencing options, you may get you the opposite results than what you want. Before you try anything, think through these:
Vital Behaviors for Weight Loss
What are the 3 Vital Behaviors for losing 40 lbs and keeping it off?
Here are the six influencing strategies from the book. Pay special attention to the headings. There are three types of influences: Personal (influencing self), Social(influencing others) and Structural (influencing interventions and processes). The two columns leverage Motivation (I want to do it) and Ability (I am able to do it). The six combinations are explained below.
Personal Love what you hate Do what you can't
Social Create accomplices Accomplices become friends
Structural What's the carrot? Build Fences
1. Personal Motivation: Love What You Hate
Cleaning up your dishes after you eat can be re-framed as showing you love your family, or make it into a game. Project status meetings can be tweaked to be quick standing updates. In our PM workshops we say that the most powerful thing you can do is consistently send status reports at the same time each week to your stakeholders. To them, whether they read the report or not, you'll appear to be organized and focused on what must be an important project.
2. Personal Ability: Do What You Can't
I'm guilty of assuming that others have a lack of motivation. Michael Ayers, a brilliant friend retired from 3M told me that 'if you have to explain something to someone more than three times, it's not ignorance, it's resistance'. If I believe that a person doesn't understand, I keep explaining it in new ways. If it's resistance, that will never work. Resistance requires influence. Figure out the Vital Behavior that will influence resistance.
3. Harness Peer Pressure: Create Accomplices
Peer pressure can provide incredible power to enact behavioral change. There are some really scary studies about what people will do with the support of peers. Engage Project Stakeholders as respected opinion leaders. Ask them questions and request their thoughts. You will soon have champion peers for your project.
4. Find Strength in Numbers: Accomplices Become Friends
Forio.com sells an organizational change simulation that teaches activities to do that influence change. As you play, you quickly learn that communication is the most critical and can take many forms. In today's multitasking day, many project managers are too busy to take the time to plan critical stakeholder communication. In the absence of a message, people always make up their own, and it's usually not positive. Leave a communication void, and reap the disengagement of stakeholders. Engage them by communicating in multiple ways - quick texts, pictures, online meetings, etc. to help spread your project message.
5. Design Rewards and Demand Accountability: What's the Carrot?
It is often said that what gets measured gets rewarded. We value what we measure, and sometimes we're measuring what is easy to measure rather than what's relevant. Why would anyone want to read mountains of Critical Path diagrams? In truth, are the project documents you're sharing with your stakeholders understandable from where they are sitting? Why should they care? Isn't that your job? Project Status meetings degrade into role recitation, and eventually become meaningless. Do something to make stakeholders want to participate - fun snacks, prizes, visual documents that don't paralyze the eyes - whatever it takes. If you aren't prepared for the meeting, cancel it.
6. Change the Environment: Build Fences
Sometimes simple changes in the project's physical environment can influence behavior. At NextGear, I visited a giant facility with two Agile teams in each office. They were encouraged to name their team, decorate their space and actually change it any time they wanted. This built an engaged team and the competition drove fun and innovation which landed on their project enthusiasm as well.
To influence effectively requires two capacities:
"… this essential ability to exercise self control and delay gratification in the service of a longer term plan – this capacity can be developed, learned, increased or grown through practice and training. We know now what Dr. Mischel and colleagues did not in the 60’s – that the brain the constantly reshaped by experience. It is plastic, moldable, shapeable. This experience-dependent change takes place in neural pathways and in the broad connectivity of these pathways in neural networks. It occurs on many levels, from cellular changes in learning to larger scale changes in neural activation and coordination due to highly repetitive (expert) experience. Up until recently, there was a very wide consensus that brain structure is relatively fixed after a critical period during early childhood. This belief has been challenged by a long and consistent stream of findings from neuroscience showing that many aspects of the brain remain plastic even into adulthood." Source
Small, intentional distractions can help you manage the temptation to do the wrong thing. Influence is the same way - small practices can grow solid relationships. You don't have to be born with influence.
Commit to meeting someone different for lunch one day a week. Practice mingling. When you see a small article or post that someone else might find interesting, share it with them or share it on LinkedIn. You have the ability to learn to influence.
Two of my favorite words are Play and Learn. Two of the smartest people I know on both topics are Sharon Boller and Karl Kapp. They have written a book that is more a deep dive learning experience to integrate Play and Learn and drive more effective learning and organizational performance. We’ve had methodologies for instructional design and others for building games and finally now both, put together so well that even new developers will find a solid path to honor the way people learn through games. Put this on a bookshelf very close to your desk. And here’s a sweet treat – I have permission to offer you a discount...
Use the promo code SPRINGBOOKS17 to receive 10% off at www.td.org .
Influence is different than persuasion (agenda) and negotiation (win). Here's a comparison:
I enjoy meeting people and learning about them, and people have called me a "Connector". Although, it may start more naturally for some than others, I believe everyone can learn to connect. Start by caring about the other person. Think of them as a friend or peer, not a target. Start with people who you see as part of your team. Who do you feel comfortable asking for help? What kind of coalition can you create for no reason except the people involved will grow together? Many years ago I started a still informal group called Wine & Whine for women in technology in Indy. It grows because of us, not because of any agenda or person.
Try this experiment. Ask someone to hold out the palm of their hand. Now push on the hand with your hand. What happens? The automatic response is for the person to push back. On projects, the inexperienced Project Manager pushes on the Stakeholders by riding the Project Schedule's dates and outcomes. The PM's mindset is to 'control' the people involved. If you've ever tried this, you will experience that the more you control, the more stakeholders push back, just like the hand experiment. Influence is about moving forward with someone else, not winning a game at their expense.
"..And where was he, do you think, but in the girth under the mare, and there he was with his little bit an apron on him, and a hammer in his hand, and he was so busy with his work, and he was hammering and whistling so loud, that he never minded my grandfather till he caught the leprechaun fast in his hand."
"Faith I have you now," says he. "And I'll never let you go till I get your purse, that's what I won't. So give it here to me at once now. '"Stop, stop!" cries the leprechaun. "Stop till I get it for you!"
"So my grandfather, like a fool you see, opened his hand a bit and the little fellow jumped away laughing. And he never saw him anymore, and never a bit of the purse did he get, only the leprechaun left his little shoe that he was making, and my grandfather was mad enough angry with himself for letting him go, but he had the shoe all his life. And my own mother told me she often saw it, and had it in her hand, and 'twas the prettiest little shoe she ever saw.'" Source
A leprechaun is a clever influencer and pretty much never gives up the gold. Project Stakeholders have lots of other things to worry about than the project you are managing, so you are going to need all the wiles of a leprechaun to get them to help you with your project plus a little magic of collaboration.
In this month's newsletter, you will learn how to influence the people (stakeholders) you need to get your project done. You won't fall back on bossiness, trickery or threats. Instead you'll use a little bit of psychology to build a partnership. You'll read about: