Saturday, October 12, 2013

Negotiating Architectural Consensus

In this episode, Bett and Russ review how to lead a group to consensus, something that a lead architect may often be faced with when different groups within a project stake out different architectural positions.

High-level summary of the points discussed:

  1. Attitude: your goal is to get it into production meeting the quality.  It is not about defending a position--it is about helping your project succeed.
  2. Mindset: open, humble, respectful, listen.  Build trust by listening and together trusting the process.  If possible, get a written proposal of the alternatives, listing pros and cons, and list their assumptions, and ideally eliminate them.
  3. List out the areas of disagreement, and one by one seek resolution.  Visually show what has been discussed, where agreement has been reached and where there's a difference of opinions.  To show progress, what remains remains, and recording the decisions for later reflection.
  4. Poll the room, explicitly, checking that all have been heard and everyone buys-in.
  5. Carefully document the proposed solution at a high-level while still in the room and check for explicit agreement--to ensure the decisions stick.
  6. Don't just focus on technical agreement and viability, ensures other constraints like cost and time limits can be met.
  7. Before the meeting, try to meet separately with those involved to understand their individual motivations.
  8. Build social relationships with those you will later depend on before you need to--you can't do relationship building "just in time", you have to start the process early.
  9. Utilizing the social relationship you already built, followup a day or two later to check that the decision is sticking--not just with those directly involved, but perhaps also with those tangentially involved, like coders and testers.

Listen now: (download)

Reading recommendations:

Bett: How to Argue and Win Every Time by Gary Spence

Russ:  Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In by Roger Fisher (Author), William L. Ury (Author), Bruce Patton (Author)

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