As I’ve always said . . . work is just a series of problems to solve. You have to have your head on straight all the time, attack each problem head on, and make sure you clean up the kitchen after you’re done.
Sometimes though, it’s not so easy. Major obstacles jump into your path and make the process of solving these problems difficult, nay impossible.
When I was a ‘wee lad’ years ago, I had a great mentor who helped me understand how to take care of these obstacles when they appear in your way. He said, “Rich, you have three choices: Fight, Compromise, or Acquiesce. That’s it — pick one — and then do it.” Here’s what he meant:
Is it a hill to die on? Sometimes you need to armor-up, get your troops in order, and take on the enemy to make the obstacle disappear.
Sometimes it’s Mr. Obstacle who is against all change, or they want to control an area you are clearly taking over, or they are just being childish (this happens often) and you need to give them a dose of hard reality.
Bottom line, If you are going to have battle scars, so will they. The best way to fight is first do it privately, behind closed doors and lay out the facts why the decision should it go your way. If it doesn’t work, go public — but again, get your troops and facts in order to win the fight quickly and with the least amount of blood-loss. If you’re going to take them down a peg, be gracious, but pull the band-aid off quickly.
Time to pull out your ‘Atticus Finch’ hat and begin laying the groundwork for a suitable set of goals you and Mr. Obstacle will agree to. Usually, it’s not much to give up, but it’s the principle of the subtle concession.
If you do compromise - make sure Mrs. Obstacle feels the pain too and they are making you lose critical time, resources, and money to make this agreement. In addition, let them know subtly this is going to be a one-time event, next time you are going to bring the big guns.
Sometimes for the good of the project and the company (and your job) you have to give in. Immediately figure out what has to change, who will be impacted, what will have to be shortened, expanded, etc.
Just like an armistice after a war, you’re giving in. So make the process as clean, quick, and professional as possible. Set up alternatives and make them instantly happen. Get your staff on-board, show them why you have to give in and move on. Time to fight is for another day.
Think of a recent obstacle in your career – what did you do?