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Chapter Six - The Content/Tech Caper (Part 2)

Negotiation, translation and mediation

“We need this done as soon as possible. There’s a lot riding on this.” I was in a meeting with various business stakeholders and the atmosphere was tense.

“OK but without content we won’t be able to make the progress we need to make,” I pointed out as I held my ground and followed up with: “Here’s my suggestion of how we can make progress…”.

Managing the expectations and influencing business stakeholders is a delicate communication dance. The dance has many steps and most of them revolve around negotiation, translation, and mediation. It requires considerable effort to maintain a calm disposition in the face of overwhelming pressure and honestly, there were days where it was a struggle. I’m sure that this is something that resonates loudly with the majority of project managers out there.

In this scenario, I found myself negotiating with business stakeholders and IT professionals on timelines for delivery and for budget: “What are the critical priorities?” If it’s not a priority, we should not work on it.” I mediated between the developers and the designers to address what could and could not be built. I learnt to become a translator helping to address certain assumptions: “This means that…” or “The impact will be…”.

The app did get built but it was the process, the conversations and not the successful delivery that I remember the most. That insight was invaluable and has continued to inform my thinking on other work projects.

Shared learning


- Work out people’s motivations to gain an understanding of competing agendas.

- Try and resist the temptation to say yes in the face of pressure.

- Accept that best laid plans go awry but continue to focus on priorities.

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