Don’t be “that” guy

OK, I know one thing for certain about whatever project you are working on right now. At some point, something will change. There is no doubt about it. You know it is true. Once the business owner or the user see something, they will want it be be different. Now, the question is, when that happens, what person are you going to be?

What do I mean by that? When something changes, there are generally 2 types of people that respond. There are helpful people who anticipate the change and work through what it means for the project. Or, there is “that” guy. “That” guy for whatever reason refuses to acknowledge that change is coming and when it does gets really mad about it. Generally the first response from “that” guy is “No! we can’t change it, why didn’t you plan?” or “It’s not possible to do that.”

Sometimes “that” guy takes the opposite stance. He will answer with something like “Sure we can change it, if you are willing to shut down everything and start over!” He will agree with a change with some overblown response in hopes that if he overstates what it will take the business side will back down.

These types of obstructionist people do nothing but add conflict to a project. So, don’t be “that” guy. But be careful, the pendulum can’t swing too far in the other direction. Some teams take whatever changes come there way and just go do them. Thats when you get into trouble with the business side not understanding why you keep missing the deadlines. They suggest changes, but are never told how that will impact their timeline.

So, what is the right way to handle this situation? You need to do three things with every change request.

  • Ask for time to review the change and estimate
  • Communicate as accurately as possible what it will take and how it will impact the project
  • Given an understanding of impact, ask what the priority is
  • Thats all there is to it. Every change, every time work these three steps. Following these steps in a helpful constructive way will add tons of credibility to you and the project team. It will amaze you how often a change is killed once the business side understands what a change will really take. It may also surprise you how many changes just are not that hard to do.

    tl;dr Things will change, be a voice of reason and calm in your organization. Don’t be the one who is looking to cause conflict.

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