Steven Sinofsky talks about “managing through disagreement”

This is a good one for therapists and psychologists in training.

In a post that will no doubt be scrutinized in coming days, former Windows chief Steven Sinofsky put together a VERY comprehensive post on the practice of managing through disagreement.

In typical Sinofsky fashion, it’s very detailed and comprehensive but it’s a compelling read.

Here are some highlights..

In practice the tools to reconcile disagreements are rather personal—they rely on the skills, tone, and temperament of the individuals.  Most everyone can lose their temper or go silent (essentially the same thing).  Most everyone has sent a late night mail they regret (subject line, “thoughts”).  Most everyone has behaved the way they criticized someone for behaving.  I’m there with you and don’t have magic answers to resolving disagreements.

[**late night emails – just say no – LOL -Editor***]

Here are a few tools I have used:

Expertise.  Where is the most expertise?  As a general rule, too often decisions are made in meetings where people are presenting cases and someone is in the middle trying to referee or decide.  At that moment, a decision is being made by a committee or by a group, yet the people that have the expertise might not even be in the room.  As a general practice, pushing decisions to those that know the most yields better decisions.  Many times teams convince themselves that there are implications that go beyond the expertise (“yes this might be a security problem but the business has different issues”).  The best thing then is to figure out how this type of context is not making it to the domain experts—what was missing from the day to day flow of information that got a team in a situation to begin with?

It has a lot of similar nuggets.

I think the most important (and powerful) part of the article is:

One final consideration is if you agree to disagree then you have to mean it. It means you can’t remind folks at every opportunity that you saw things differently. It also means you’re tabling the disagreement for good and that you’re not inadvertently establishing a dreaded accountability dodge or told you so for later on.

At work as well as in our personal lives, this is the hardest one.

Having worked on very large enterprise projects with hundreds of team members and millions of dollars on the line, I have to say this is a must read for project managers.

The truth is, there is no magic bullet for dealing with conflict on projects. It takes strong leadership, skill, empathy, expertise etc etc

That being said, the post was great.

Go check it out here.

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