The secret to getting your way

March 15th, 2011 in Business, Career, PlanetGNOME

You know those people that come into every meeting and everyone just loves their idea? Or they propose an idea on the mailing list and everyone immediately pipes in to say how great it is?

Ever wonder how they do it?

They do their homework.

Before they propose their idea to a large group, they’ve floated it by a lot of people. They’ve discussed it in various settings, public and private, with individuals and with small groups. They’ve explained it, adapted it, discussed it. Most importantly, they addressed a lot of key people’s issues ahead of time and incorporated their feedback.

In some meetings, I know the person proposing the idea has actually discussed it with every single person at the meeting before hand.

Yes, that’s a lot of work. But that’s how they get their ideas accepted.

It’s not sneaky. It’s getting feedback.

It’s not broken. It’s communication.

It works.

So if your idea didn’t get accepted, stop to consider if you could have done more homework. Communicated more. Incorporated more feedback. Addressed more concerns.

15 Responses to “The secret to getting your way”

  1. Stuart says:

    Is this blog post regarding the recent debate involving Canonical? If so it’s best to be direct about it.

  2. Jeff Waugh says:

    No idea what inspired you to write this post, but it happens to be incredibly topical. :-)

  3. Mark says:

    So are you sneakily suggesting that Canonical did not do its homework?

  4. diegoe says:

    Great post, you rock :)

  5. olaf says:

    I assume you do not wish to claim that KDE developers need to individually convince single every Gnome person before the cooperation problem is fixed?

    Many KDE developers have a limited amount of time. They would much prefer to spend the time coding rather than becoming an expert in Gnome-internal power games.

    It is not nice to spend a lot of time to discuss terrific ideas, to improve those ideas based on feedback, and then to end up being ignored by those who prefer to do everything their own way.

    Stormy Reply:
    March 15th, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    I’m not talking about a GNOME vs KDE way of doing things. This is the way things get done in life. So both KDE and GNOME work this way.

  6. James says:

    > Most importantly, they addressed a lot of key people’s issues ahead of time and incorporated their feedback

    While that’s good, what about the people who didn’t find out about it before the meeting? They are going to be there trying to understand what you are proposing while everyone else is claiming how good it is because you’ve taken them into account.

    > It’s not sneaky. It’s getting feedback.

    That very much depends on the group and the people you talked to before hand. It can be a good way of getting feedback, however it can also be used to keep people likely to want changes in the dark and run rough-shod over their objections too. You need to be careful to not go from “The secret to getting your way”, to “The secret to getting your way”and ignoring others”.

    Leave out the same group too much, and you can end up with them not liking you, and either battling business units, forks, or ignoring standards groups depending on the context.

    stormy Reply:
    March 16th, 2011 at 7:55 am

    In an ideal meeting, everyone at the meeting would have the info beforehand. Unfortunately, most people get too busy and don’t send out info before hand.

    In my opinion, meetings are for discussion, not for sharing new information. But I don’t always manage to do it that way. And not everyone agrees with me.

  7. Jeff Waugh says:

    Whatever Stormy was referring to, I’m almost certain she was not talking about KDE as part of the Canonical/GNOME debate. Aaron raised KDE/freedesktop.org issues, but it is not principally the topic being discussed in this debate.

  8. none says:

    Yeah, like the shining example of the Galago spec. Not.

    stormy Reply:
    March 16th, 2011 at 7:56 am

    I’m not saying projects run perfectly. I’m saying people who manage to effectively lead and push change do it this way.

  9. Meneer R says:

    >Whatever Stormy was referring to, I’m almost certain

    You have no idea just how ironic this is, concerning the fact that post is about about clear communication is.

    You could call this behavior sneaky, and I think, if you wait this long to say anything about it at all, she should have been more direct and to the point about it.

    At this piont, the misunderstanding to me ( a nobody ) seems pretty obvious.

    There is a new policy where Gnome focuses more on being a finished product (from GTK to Gnome-shell) then on being a platform.

    In the end, decisions about GTK are made only considering the gnome-use case (and not say the XFCE usecase). Decisions about notifications are not made considering KDE, or cross-desktop applications, but only made considering “pure” gnome applications.

    This is a choice that Gnome is free to make. It’s actually a choice Stormy did, at the very least, post about in the past. (i believe). That Gnome had to have a more clear branding, and more of a total product feel.

    I don’t think the rest of the open source ecosystem got the message though. Because if they had, they would’ve forked the core gnome architecture stuff already to keep it modular, independent.

    Again, this is not really a complaint. It’s actually very hard to be both a “platform” and to have a very refined standarized user-interface.

    But I think, it’s important Gnome starts to officially emphasize this change.

    Gnome is now a project that delivers a single integrated product. If any parts can be used in a more modular way in other context, that is coincidence, not intention, or at very least, not the priority anymore.

    Interestingly, this make a very strong contrast with KDE, where the Qt platform seems to be more important than the KDE-desktop-product.

    In this light, Canonical choice to refocus on Qt isn’t one of malice, but of service. Qt will serve them much better.

    >Aaron raised KDE/freedesktop.org issues, but it is not principally the topic being discussed in this debate.

    It’s not what _you_ want to discuss, because you are still in the blame game. Just like Stormy, and at this point, just like Shuttleworth. (although this started with him not being very diplomatic about why Ubuntu will shift their focus of upstream.)

    It’s kind of childish. At the core is the difference in expectations of each other. And that’s a much bigger issue than just Canonical, or even just KDE. That impacts the app developpers just as much.

    Gnome no longer wants to be a platform, they rather want to focus on a tighly integrated product.

    This is just the fall out of that decision.
    You can expect it to become much worse in the future.

    Gnome may make a stronger use-case for end-users now, but I suspect they will stop being the defacto platform to code a cross-desktop application in.

    stormy Reply:
    March 16th, 2011 at 8:00 am

    Perhaps it’s sneaky. But since everyone seems to get it, that can hardly be called sneaky can it?

    But, really, truly, this is not a GNOME/Canonical issue. This is how the world works. People that discuss their ideas, share, get feedback and incorporate it, get their stuff done.

    The exception are times when you contract with a company for work they ordinarily do. For example, you don’t need to convince a sewing company that your curtains are beautiful. As long as they can do them, and you are willing to pay, you can usually come to a quick agreement.

    But within the sewing company, or within any company or within an open source project, ideas are not usually mandated. They are usually decided by a group of people that you need to convince (if you are the one with the idea).

  10. stormy says:

    I’m not in the blame game.

    I am pointing out how the world works. If you already know that, great. If you don’t, then I hope you think about it because I’m sure, like everyone, you have good ideas and opinions that should be heard in the right forums.

    Feel free to leave a comment if you have something to add.

  11. Thanks for a great post!
    I found (a photo of) a great slide from Seth from Guadec 2006 illustrating pretty much how all cooperation works http://kvota.net/guadec/photos/find-glynn.jpg
    I wish I could find the original picture somewhere.

    I love that picture. It was my first GUADEC.