Storytelling & Encouraging Change

Storytelling & Encouraging Change

When working with teams and stakeholders, communicating a vision is paramount to success. Working in technology it’s easy to focus on the technological advantages and forget to include everyone on the journey.

A key to getting wider business support on projects requires engagement with stakeholders, business managers and end users of the planned solutions. It’s important to bring them on the journey early and sell the vision. Throughout development and delivery, they need to be kept on the journey updated on development and if projects slip their expectations need to be managed regularly.

Storytelling

People old and young react to and engage with stories. If you can sell the story, it will sell the product/solution.

When selling a new solution, it’s handy to break the conversation down into three concise sections:

  • Push – Why does it need to change (what’s wrong with the existing solution).
  • Pull – Selling the change (what is the new solution going to enable users/the business to do).
  • Support – How will we help you make the change (training, copying things over, make it easy for users to migrate/upgrade).

Focusing on these, a long ramble about technology solutions can be trimmed into 5 minutes of key points, relevant to the audience. Another similar collection of headings is “What? Why? and How?”, although these can easily start down a path of technical talk.

When planning and guiding larger initiatives, the “support” part of this can include navigating the infamous Change Curve.

Winning Stakeholders

Remember that to sell something (in technology circles this is usually a project requiring business backing), it’s said that you need to convince 51% of the decision makers in a room.

First identify who the primary decision makers are, and target your words and ideas at their needs. Often these are management/department heads, who are less involved in the day to day activities, but have accountability for them. They usually have goals which can be boiled down to reduce costs, increase profits, reduce latency and increase productivity. Most sponsors will also want to go with a low risk path. Even in technical and semi technical teams, the technical how is less important.

Then identify the secondary decision makers, these are people who either perform the day to day activities or supervise the people doing the activities. They aren’t responsible for making the decisions, but they do influence the decision makers. They are going to be concerned with making their day to day easier, and freeing up time/resource for other objectives.

At each level, people are guided by what will make their day easier, and make them look good to their boss.

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