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How To Tactfully Gain Approval For Changes

Filed Under Human Factors, Software Process

Tactical Approval

Situations where the need to force change in your environment are not done easily as I described in the series – Your Software Process Sucks. One method for creating change I neglected is the “just do it – ask for forgiveness, not for permission” method. Although this method can yield great results, it can also be a dangerous pitfall if your changes backfire.

Instead of going behind your team’s back, Steve Rowe had a great idea of how to tactfully get approval. To summarize his idea, ask for permission in a way that silence implies acceptance:

On the issue at hand, I recommend taking the following actions. If I don’t hear from you by such and such a date, I’ll move ahead with my recommendations.

This is a great idea when dealing with a resistance to change and definitely deserves the in-depth read.

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4 Responses to “How To Tactfully Gain Approval For Changes”

  1. Justin Deltener on August 21st, 2007 7:36 am

    Oh how delicious! (I’m licking my fingers). Identifying the problem clearly, coming up with a suitable game plan and still showing you’re open to input covers all the bases. I really like that method since its pretty unlikely someone is going to push the issue even further and risk looking like a tyrannical overlord by saying “No, I WILL tell you if its ok; absence of objection is not consent!” 99% percent of the time the manager will be happy someone stepped up to the plate with a clear plan of action and showing respectfully you’re open to other ideas or input removes the fear of a power struggle.

  2. Max Pool on August 21st, 2007 8:17 am

    @Justin – We had a volley of comments over on The Delivery where you disagreed with some of the methods to creating change.

    I am glad that you liked this approach as I too find it probably the best solution out of all the proposed methods in both articles.

  3. lb on August 21st, 2007 8:51 pm

    just want to show you an old ‘Joel On Software’ article that deals with this issue, under the title ‘Getting Things Done When You’re Only a Grunt

    also, the quote “it’s better to ask for forgiveness than beg for permission” is apparently attributed to Grace Murray Hopper (inventor of the compiler, and US naval officer for many years — hence an expert at getting things done despite red-tape and barricades)

    one other thing — a different approach for making changes is that put forward in ‘how to win friends and influence people’.

  4. Max Pool on August 22nd, 2007 7:33 am

    @lb – Wow you are a wealth of information!

    I never read that Joel article, but it is really good as well, thanks for sharing the link.

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