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Making a Bigger Impact: Important Skills to Master



Ariya Hidayat discusses the significance of tracking scopes and deliverables of a project, then presents a few techniques which can be useful to invoke changes to the organization, and to nudge the strategic directions. He also explores a few common leverages to improve the narrative of both the verbal and written communication, to amplify the clarity, reduce ambiguities, and deliver the message.


Ariya Hidayat is VP of Engineering at ShapeSecurity and creator of PhantomJS.

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Good afternoon, everyone! I am so excited, this is my first time being at QCon, I am so happy that you are here with me. Speaking of excitement, I have an announcement to make. I have a new phone, the camera on this phone is so magical and fantastic that I start to take more and more photos. At some point, I need to make a concession to my children, yes, there's a correlation between the amount of photos that they have and the release of the phone. With the photos looking so good, of course, all the previous photos now look so bad.

I wish I had the ability to go to a time machine and re-take every single photo that I have taken in the past with the new phone. While the idea of going through a time machine and going back in time came to my mind, I was thinking, is there anything else I want to go? I'm going to jump into a time machine, anyway....

So one thing that is obvious to me is that, if only I had the ability to collect and gather the lessons and wisdom and advice and bring it to the naïve version of me, that would be fantastic. And now, of course, I can do that.

Engineering a Career Path

And so the best thing I can do is share the best tricks and tools that I have discovered throughout these years to every single contributor that wants to advance their career, whether they want to become a manager, as a tech lead, or to even sharpen their design and architecture skills. And by no means I claim to be a subject matter expert in this field, however, by looking at many successful engineers and studying their traits, I realized that are three skills you need to master if you want to elevate your career and catapult it to the next level.

The first is about organizing activities, the second is communicating with confidence and clarity, and the third is the important skill of wielding influence. Of course I'm cheating here. As a software engineer, we're used to an idea of our write index starting from 0, there's the skill starting from 0, or the metaskill. It is about demanding excellence and that's what we will cover. This might not be the skill set for you, but I want to express a certain framework and technique that we can use to start with all the necessary skills out there and apply it to yourself. So, for all of these 3 plus 1 skills, we will do a quick review of what it is and why it is important for you. We will look at indicators to measure to understand whether you mastered the skill or not, and finally we will go through some tools and practical tips that you can use to apply the skills in your work. And last, but not least, we will show a couple of references for your own study.

And now, there is no guarantee again that this will turn you into a super hero, but we will start with the first one: Excellence. Before that, I want you to join me in a trip down memory lane. When I was in primary school, I hated doing homework. For me, it was a complete waste of time, because I was doing okay on my exam. My parents were teachers, so I got a series of advice on the subject. They told me that doing homework is important so that you can build enough confidence during the real exam. Again and again, we discovered that our parents, they are right, and it was not until high school that I realized why doing homework is important. And just like the boys in high school, I was into the girls. I was not into sports, so I tried to get sports skills. Michael Jordan was at his peak, so I thought, how hard can it be? If I can be like him, surely I have a chance to compete with other boys.

I found the PE teacher and asked him, coach, can you turn me into this? And he told me, son, here's the ball, there's the basketball court there, shoot 100 times a day, every day for the next two weeks, and come back and find me again. I was stunned. I hoped that this guy would teach me some spin moves, some jumps, the fancy tricks, but we are talking about practice here. We are talking about practice! And so, I tried to follow his advice. I went to the court, shot some hoops, and for a while, I thought, this was not for me. I was tired, I was sweating, and I -- certainly, it is not better than doing homework.

And, after a while, we realized that doing practice and striving for perfection during practice is important, and there is no better person to demonstrate that than the basketball star of Marven Jayes from the Golden State Warriors. He mesmerized us with his amazing shots, he is not the tallest player, or the fastest, but he could perform at an incredible level and become a two-time MVP. What is the secret? We only see his success, back before the NBA, he spent his time practicing on how to shoot well, until his hand could not take it anymore. After he joined the NBA, he worked harder. Whenever there was a shooting practice, he was in the gym an hour before, and already shot 100 or 200 times.

We know that two years ago, during some shooting practice, he scored 73 points in a row. That is one three point after another, after another, after another. If we go to the gym, we are lucky if we have any points at all, let alone 77 three points in a row. That is important, when he is practicing, he is not guarded. Everyone is assuming that the ball will go in, it makes sense. And during the real game, nothing is perfect. That is an uncontrolled environment. Your feet are a bit off, your teammate did a bad job at passing the ball to you, you lifted the ball a few nano seconds too early/too late, the lighting is off, everything is a disaster. This is why it is important to achieve perfection during practice. During the real game, the environment is completely different. Your performance will degrade.

And I always like this quote from the German marshal from 200 years ago, no battle plan was good without contact from the enemy. And I like this, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. You need to build your muscle memory and strive for excellent. When the opportunity presents itself, you have to make a decision in an instance with a lot of confidence and perfection.

Organization and Planning

And now, let's move on to the first skill, organization and planning. And when we talk about projects, sometimes we talk about projects that changes everyone's lives, the project that makes the world a better place. It does not have to be like that. Every time there's an activity that involves one or more stakeholders, and you have to sort of deliver something in a given constraint, that constitutes an activity or project, and you have to be careful planning or organizing it.

This is the picture of the tallest building on earth. The architect for this building had a career that spanned 30 years. The first building attributed to him was a few buildings for a bank in Guatemala. He did not design a skyscraper on his first day of work, he started small. It is very important that we start to pay attention to the small projects we are running and executing right now, nobody is going to show up on your front door, drop $100 million, or whatever bitcoins it is, and say, please build the next product, if you never prove or demonstrate past projects. It is not personal, it is not an insult to your intelligence, nobody wants you to be in a position where you don't feel comfortable, where you don't feel -- where you feel anxiety as you start to execute your first project.

And it is also important to pay attention to the risks of the project as it goes through the stages towards completion. Whenever a plane is about to take off, after the speed reaches a certain threshold, the SV1, the pilot is still going to continue the take-off, even if the engine happens to fail. This is important, because in the beginning of the project, you need all the mechanisms to recover. If you invite your friends for a BBQ and something goes wrong, you can just call up some pizza and then have it delivered. But, if you are supposed to deliver a catering for a wedding for 2,000 guests and something goes wrong, that would be a disaster. As you run and execute multiple projects, you will gain that confidence. There are reasons that pilots have to train for thousands of hours in flight simulators, in that difficult moment, we with the pilot to make the right decision.

What’s the Status of X

What is an indicator that a project is going to go sideways? There is something simple that highlights the problem. Two problems: one, everyone got a different answer to a project, and the question that is being asked is a big problem. No stakeholder should ever ask someone about the status of a project.

Emotional Ownership

The first thing that you need to do to own a project is to start to develop emotional ownership. If someone asks you about your project, it should launch you in an emotional roller coaster. You heart rate doubles, your blood is pumped faster, you are jumping up and down, you are very passionate about the subject, you can even talk about the subject until tomorrow morning. Because, when you are demonstrating this passion about your project, then you make the correct first step. Everyone else realizes that, oh, yeah, this person really owns the project and wants to contribute to the success. It does not matter if a project is small. In Transformer movie, when Sam met Bumblebee for the first time, Sam said, a driver does not pick the car, the car picks the driver. When you start to own and execute your first project, think of it like a destiny. You don't get to choose the project, the project chooses you.

Centralized Dashboard

And how to solve the problem, how to solve the inquiry about the status of the project? Well, this is very simple. All you need to do is to build the central dashboard that describes what is going on with the project. And a lot of front-end developers are very familiar with a website called, it enumerates every web capability and where it is available on every browser. Python has Python enhancement project, every feature of Python is described there, if it is available or not. And that starts about asking about the status of a project.

Define the Milestone

It is equally important to define the milestone and the stages as the project goes towards completion. There are many ways to do this. In the industry, there is a standard called capability maturity model; there are five levels, and you go through each of the stages, or processes. It is very complex, we don't need to completely follow this, but we can get some ideas and we can learn from it. For instance, just to illustrate the graduation from Cal Tech to a repeatable level, we can look at an on-boarding process for a new employee. You have been through this, you join a new company and the IT guy gives you a laptop. He says this is your laptop. And when you say, how do I set it up, he will leave it to you. You are smart, figure it out.

And another step you need to do for a repeatable level is to have documentation that, given the laptop, these are the steps to follow. That does not mean it stops there, the on-boarding process can be improved to the next stage. And the problem with documentation- sometimes it is out of sync, sometimes your projects are using Java 8, or 9, and the document says that you are in six. So there are follow-up steps you can use to improve the on-boarding process based on the capability maturity model that I mentioned earlier.

But, we don't need to use that complicated level. We can use any simple staging. This is a typical example of a software release, from planned stage, to G8. And here, the diagram illustrates five stages, or mile stones, check points for every process. You can pick three, six, seven, it doesn't matter, as long as you are consistent. It is important for you to define what happens in each stage. For instance, G8 might be different for different folks. It might generate alpha, or garbage alligator. To solve this, we have the ultimate solution to the problem, a checklist.

So this slide shows the five conditions that need to be fulfilled that can be objectively measure, analyzed, or assessed by any stakeholders. When the condition is fulfilled, it is complete. You might have different criteria, you might just document them and follow them. And so, for your follow-up study, I recommend these two books: Extreme Ownership, written by Navy Seals- it highlights the importance of owning the project and driving it 100 percent towards its completion, particularly in time of difficulties. And Making Things Happen is a very, very heavy book. It is a book for project management. It has a lot of practical tips on writing software specification and so forth.

And now, let's say that you are running a project. At some point, you need to explain this project or you need to present this project to a different person, maybe at some point your CEO, or come up with a new project idea and you have to pitch that idea. This is the importance of being able to communicate articulately.

Articulate Communication

When we talk about articulate communication, I'm not talking about TED talks. You don't need to wait until you are invited to communicate articulately. In discussions with your colleagues, you have to pay attention to how you describe your project, or pitch an idea, because that is important for your career. And why is that? Very simple: we all lead a busy life. This is probably an extreme example. This 411 driver needs to get to a pit stop for a few seconds, if that person gets nothing, that is the difference between winning and losing a race.

When you start to invite some people to listen to your project ideas, or to listen to your retrospective of your project, your project is a part of your life, you want to convince them that these are the best minutes they can spend with you. And, after you do that, after a while you will stand out compared to other folks. If you have the ability to communicate something with confidence and clarity, you will, without realizing it, you will start to create some followers. A lot of people will go to you because they know that you will not spend hours and hours rambling about your life and everything, just to explain simple concepts. This is your chance to compete against any other folks.

And now, what is the indicator that verbal or written communication is not at a satisfying level? Simple. The first is confusion. How many times have you received an email from a manager or teammates and it said, I don't know what to do with this? If you attend a talk and you fall asleep in the first minute of the talk, that indicates something is wrong with the talk. I have a YouTube of all the boring talks. It serves two purposes, it reminds me not to do all those things, and then if I have trouble sleeping, I start watching the talk. So, communication -- confusing communication is epidemic in our industry, we just have to fix it.

Four A's

And the first thing that we need to do is to apply certain frameworks on how to gather facts and utilize them. I like this four As framework from Toolgood, he elaborated it in his book. Assembling a line is gathering information on how to use the facts, applying is about telling a story, and assigning is about creating values. Here is a practical example: let's say that you get an email from your teammate or manager. Team, check out this cool stuff, and the link, and best regards. How many of you have experienced this? It is very difficult to decide what to do with this. And so if you -- and so certainly whoever sent this email already performed the assemble and align stage, but there is no follow-up, there is no idea on how to execute from this.

So it is as simple as this. We need to make sure there's an explicit action in there, in this case it is please study this article, and then a deadline, you need to do that before the next weekly meeting. And then, as a courtesy, when there's a link, try to put a snippet about the link. Nobody wants to click on an article, I learned about cloud computing and you don't know what happened next. And by improving the mess just a little bit, that gets the point across and that is very important.

And we never should forget that our communication is the guide for the receiving end. In high school, when my friend and I visited another friend in a different place, I hated instructions like this: find a pond, turn left, walk three blocks, when you see an oak tree, turn right, and that kind of instruction. This is based before the time of GPS navigation. I would like a reference. Drive three miles north, turn right, continue two miles, and so forth. If you cannot follow instructions, there are two possibilities. Either we are an idiot, or the instruction is wrong. You remember that Tim Cook apologized a few years ago because Apple Maps sent everyone in the wrong place. So, they found that the router was not configured properly. Joe gave me a call, but at the time I was busy. There is nothing wrong with that paragraph, it is setting the context. Fortunately, Jack was on line. They summarized the finding, and now we start to pray that "they" is the first one and send it to me. We don't know exactly, who is we? Jack and I, Joe and I, someone else? But he assured that we are here [Joe, Jack, someone else?] on this day, the same day now.

So you can see the first problem, it is hard to understand who is doing what. The second problem is that this incident ticket, or email, will be forwarded once, twice, three times, it reaches the CEO, forwarded to the VP, gets to the director and ended up in your mail box, and good luck trying to understand who is he there. And so remember that -- just change it. There is nothing wrong with the paragraph, but making sure that the actors are there. And just like in the second paragraph, mention all the names, and stay away from pronouns.

And lately, I need to teach my kids how to tie their shoelaces, with the bunny ear techniques and this and that. We fail, and it is complicated to use left and right as a reference, because they are going to be intertwined. It is called tying your shoe laces, we discovered this book, it is fantastic because there's a different color for the different shoe lace. And, as much as possible, try to stay absolute and avoid the need for the receiving end to understand the context.

Well, that is for written communication. How about verbal communication? How many of you follow speaking up without speaking out from Matt Abrams? He described a lot of good things about speaking up. If you were not there, I recommend you to check the videos. It is going to be very good, and you will learn a lot of tricks there. But just a quick reminder of the important techniques that we need to apply. I like this formula from the same, Mr. Togood, punch, one theme, window, ear, retention.

Punch is a strong start for your talk, or story, or call for action. One theme, stay with just one concept, give a lot of example, repeat it again and again. Window is about leveraging your materials and aids with a slide deck or something else to empower your presentation. Ear is a proper delivery, without using jargons. Retention is that someone can use to relate to the opening.

How do we achieve and come up with a proper, strong, one theme for our talk? I like this idea from Mark Twain. I didn't have to write the short letter, so I wrote a long one instead. So it seems natural, if you have more time, you can write a longer letter. And he talks about written communication here, and it applies equally to verbal communication.

The solution to this is the so-called, what I call, the pyramid of articulate communication. There are three parts there. The first 30 minutes, is where you explain to your teammates or co-worker what you are working on over lunch. You have time, you walk everyone through the problems and solutions and so forth. And after doing it for a couple of times, you can come up with a four-minute version, this is an eight times compression. After you start to give it -- after you start to describe your project in four minutes, maybe you can do it a couple of times, and then you can start to do that in just eleven seconds. That is harder, that is the so-called elevator pitch, unless you are in California, because I'm sure that the elevator lasts more than 11 seconds.

And there is no secret on how to achieve this, we need to go through cycles of coming up with ideas and ways to elaborate the ideas, come up with feedback from people, remove all the fluff, refine it, and come back and so forth. The 30 to 40 minute stages of compression is 8 times, and from minutes, to compress to 11 seconds, that is an amazing 20x compression. You need to be very good at doing what you are doing. I like the idea from William Zinsser, do not be afraid to rewrite your text, rewriter is the essence to writing well, this applies to all talks and speeches for verbal communication.

The best way to improve your delivery is practice a lot. When you practice, it is about eye contact, posture, and filler words. Make sure that you don't look at the floor, you don't look at the ceiling, or the screen, or scan the audience quickly, or one person the whole time. If I put my hand in my pocket and I speak like this, and move away from you, then you think that this guy doesn't really want to be here. Avoid filler words, this is the word we use unnecessarily to fill up the space, because we might need to think about something. Common filler words are: Um, you know, honestly, actually, like. It is fine to use it from time to time, but when you start to fill every second or two, or sandwich every useful words with filler words, that is irritating.

Use your smartphone to record yourself and talk about your subject for 5 minutes, and then pay attention to these three things, and then record yourself doing it for the second time, the third time, and the fourth time. The first time you are doing it, it will be a disaster. It is a torture to watch yourself on video, that's the fastest way to get ahead of everyone. When you start to improve your eye contact, maintain a posture, and avoid all the filler words, your confidence level will go up. Use every opportunity to rehearse, whether it is in a normal team meeting, or if your company has a regular all-hands, every week or month. Use the opportunity to present what you are working on, your current project, or your new project idea.

Or, you can go to local meet-ups, those are fantastic to practice a talk before going to a conference audience, because meet-ups are not hostile at all. Or you can volunteer to take the meeting minutes. Who likes to write meeting minutes? Yeah, nobody. But that's a good exercise, good minutes has the element of the time stamp, who is there, and then a summary. It is amazing the success that you get by trying to compress a 30 minute or one hour meeting into a couple of bullet points. If you do it more and more often, obviously, you are going to get better, practice makes perfect. I like this statement: when I don't know what happens, it just bothers me, it gets under my skin and I have to write about it. Anybody have a guess about who wrote that? It is not Hemingway. It is Taylor Swift. I'm disappointed, folks.

For your study, I recommend these two books, the New Articulate Executive, and On Writing Well is the counter part for written communication.


And now, let's say you run some projects, you can communicate the vision of the projects with a lot of clarity and confidence, what do you have to do next? This is where the art of wielding influence plays an important role. Why is it important? To start with, this is different than the other two skills.

In running a project, and in being able to communicate your project, your vision about the project, you have to own it, it is about you, and your project, or your materials, because you want to convey a message. But this is different, this is about the rest of the organization. That is important because, from the moment we are born until we die, we need help. I never heard of someone that walked to the grave by themselves, that is called zombies.

There are some things that we need help with. And the art of wielding influence, if you look at chemical reactions, it is you as a catalyst as a part of the reaction. It is important that you influence the direction of your team, your organization, your company because, with that kind of influence, you can build a line-up. Instead of you building a project and somebody else building a project that is not aligned, the team or the organization can move in roughly the same direction, and that is very important.

And again, you can only do so many things. There are other things that other folks in your organization need to do. A lot of people confuse influence with authority. The best indicator that somebody wields a lot of influence is looking at their position and how the organization behaves. Here is a typical org chart: we have a director, architect, manager, and engineers. If you start to observe that everyone starts to go to engineer number two all the time to ask for their advice, to consult about something, to just talk about the project and idea, in general, then you can see that this engineer has a fantastic skill of wielding influence. It is not about structure or hierarchy. If someone who has no title, or just a boring title, and everyone needs to go to that person all the time, that means that person is very useful and resourceful. That's the skill that you want to acquire. And sometimes, people call this as having a magnetic personality.

And internet levels the playing field. We cannot look at a better example than all the Minecraft tutorials. This is by a couple, Pat and Jen, or MMO. If you have small children who play Minecraft, or you are grown, then everyone is familiar with this video. It has been watched 14 million times, it is not just the latest Justin Bieber music videos, it is somebody walking through the process of building something. And this person is not our boss, our manager, our superior. And yet, everyone finds that what they are doing, it is very useful and that's why they want to see more and more of them doing that.

How do we do this, how do we start to wield influence? As I mentioned earlier, this skill is not about you. So you need to remove that you part from that skill. Here is the thing. For instance, many times, when we see something as going wrong, and you want to improve it, you start with the statement by saying: after I thought about it. Well, a simple change of reference will help. Instead of it is about me and my thought, and how I go through the idea of improving it, you want to throw it to the other party. You should say, you want X, right? Have you thought about doing Y? This will trigger more discussion.

And a useful technique to do this is to treat the problem as the common enemy. Don't have a round-table discussion, it is not about you and me and your idea and my idea. Write the problem on a write board and attack it together. That changes a lot. That changes the perspective, because suddenly we don't care whose idea is the best.

I remember having a conversation with a friend of mine a couple years ago, because they wanted to build something. And, in the beginning, I proposed some product that we need to build. And he was skeptical at the beginning. He asked a lot of questions, and then we needed to explain it further. In the first few minutes of the discussion, my friend always tells me that your idea sucks, it will never work, your idea is terrible, I can come up with a better version, and so on and so forth. After, he was convinced and suddenly the conversation was, hey, how do we execute our idea? When did it become "our" idea? Everyone is familiar with this quote. One can do a great deal of good in this world if one doesn't care who gets the credit for it. Being a catalyst means that you don't want to take the credit for it, you just want to be the catalyst.

A very important aspect of persuasion is understanding the motive behind your team, or the people that drive the projects in your team. In her book, Beyond Office Politics, the author put the motivation of individuals in three buckets: power, affiliation, and achievement. Cross Voss said it was: assertive, accommodateer, and analytical. If you have trouble imagining this, I will try this one. Can you guess who is who? Again, who is analytical, who is an accommodateer, who is assertive? Who is about persuasion and achievement? You can come up with this in a game of Thrones character. If you have an idea for a project, and you need to pitch it to James Kirk, you say, hey, this is going to change the world, this is going to change the universe, because of the need to assert power and authority.

If you talk about someone whose primary motivation is affiliation and their need to be liked, you will say, this is a fantastic idea, can you build a team that gets it done and run it? And with people that look at things all about achievement, you need to present the angle differently. You will say, I have this problem, will you be the involved in designing the solution? You need to appeal to the idea of achievement. Once you do that, you have to also start to know that influencing means doing it incrementally. If your team has this mentality where I just asked that the production chains that are best on the fly, and they do these crazy things, you want to change the team into following every single possible good development hygiene, it’s going to be a tough sell. What you need to do is to come up with incremental improvement. Maybe we are going to tackle static analysis first, maybe you want to convince everyone that running on the source code is a very good idea. And then, after that, we can start to introduce the unit tests.

And then, we have different stages, so on and so forth. The order does not matter; you have to find something that works for your organization.

What’s in it for Me?

And a couple of things on improvement, always have these things in mind: WIIFM. What's in it for you, to your counterpart? Don't try to start to come up with an idea, hey, we have to do unit tests, because everyone else is doing it, or I have done that in my previous company, this is a good practice, according to this book, etc. It has to be personalized and fit the need of your team. There's a couple of tips on how to do that. The first thing is something that Winston Churchill said a long time ago, never let a good crisis go to waste. Whenever something grows wrong and you have to discuss the situation in a retrospective meeting, use that opportunity to come up with ideas.

We did not do this properly, this happened, we will start to invest on doing it properly. And the next is to use the standard that we agree on. Everyone here is probably familiar with the concept of pizza delivery, if it does not show up in 15 minutes, you do not have to pay for it. That's the standard.

And empowering your employees, with your value and culture; start activities with ideas that are related to that. We need to send employees to training, or different workshops so they can continue to be empowered. So start something that the whole organization, team, and company agrees on.

And for your follow-up study, I will recommend these two books in the previous slide decks, Beyond Office Politics, and Linda Sommer elaborates on power. And Getting More is more tips on negotiation in general.


You have seen the discussion on skills, and a quick overview of each individual skill, how we define it, how it is going to be useful and a bunch of practical tips and tools that you can use. There is no guarantee that this will turn you into a super hero but, what I want you to do is to start to pick a project, practice articulate communication at all times, and be a catalyst in your team, your organization, and your company. When doing that, make sure that you continue to have a lot of fun, exhibit excellence and, of course, stay humble. Let's make a bigger impact, let's make the world a better place. Thank you.

We have nine minutes, I can take a couple of questions.

If we have questions, please come up here and use the mic. If you want to see the slide deck, it is available at that url. If you liked this talk, follow me on Twitter. If you didn't like this talk, follow someone else.

Hello. You have been with the company for a while, and your co-workers get to know you, they get a bias of -- they become biased with their preconception of who you are, and how you communicate. How do you overcome that image?

So if I understand the question correctly, if someone formed an opinion about you and how you communicate, how do you change that? Is that correct?


I have never encountered that situation, but from a lot of stories I have heard from other friends, one way to do that is to practice articulate communication. For instance, if they recognize you as someone who starts to ramble for hours and hours, and deliver very little, then suddenly change that by listening more, and speaking less.

In many companies, like you mentioned, the org chart that you showed, many go to one engineer because they are influential. This can be very organic; what if the most influential person is out of the office? All of us are -- it increases the amount of chaos on the team, because now nobody knows who to go to, and everybody starts acting like the person they can influence, but nothing good happens of it. I'm sure you are nodding your head for when this happens. How, as a company, can you coach the team of influentialism? How can we help people coach that, how to influence people? Not to get your job done, not in a political way, but influence towards the common goal, like the PowerPoint that you had about the arrows being in a different color. So in your opinion, what would you suggest that we try in our own teams to facilitate that?

To solve this problem, everyone is to understand that influence is not something that you can just stamp on your forehead. It is something that you earn. If you influence, it is because that everyone thinks you are resourceful. And as long as the folks in your groups start to understand that, they will stop pretending they influence that person, if that person is out of the office, for instance. And for the second problem, I highly recommend that you check out that book, Beyond Office Politics, and this, by the way, is not a dirty book at all. It has very good tips on how to deal with different types of personalities and customize your persuasion, based on that personality. Another one here?

My question is about that slide as well, with the very influential engineer. So I have daydreamed before, and I think I'm not alone that, oh, I just want to short-circuit this issue and go directly to the CEO and tell them what they don't understand about the lower-level of what is happening. Um, so what do you think is the best approach in terms of respecting the hierarchy, or short-circuiting things, in terms of influencing higher-ups to understand what is going on in the lower level?

So, that -- that is worth another long talk. But the gist of this is that there are a few things that you need to do when you are in an organization. You have to manage everyone who works for you, you have to manage your peers, and you have to manage up. So you manage up, you do something that not a lot of people need to go through the proper learn and coaching. For experience, if we think we are going to exercise passive aggressiveness, that is not going to work. That works in a typical environment. If your manager, director of VP, they are not super technical, it will work. They will see you as being a trouble maker, or someone that complains.

Another thing that you wanted to apply is assess the level in your career when you are expected to make an impact. For every problem that you identify, try to come up with one or more solutions. Give a choice to the higher manager that, if we do this, this is going to happen. But, if you do that, this is what is going to happen. And unlike you, who works a lot with the troops on the ground, you understand the problem very well, so you understand that, or you -- you can see the big picture, so you can see that things are not moving in a linear fashion. But, at some level of abstraction, we don't know. Everyone just assumes that, oh, if you don't do A, B is going to happen. But there is no choice, and that puts you in a difficult situation, once you do that escalation.

Last one? No takers? I will be here for a while, if you have further questions, enjoy the rest of the conference, and thank you very much.

Live captioning by Lindsay @stoker_lindsay at White Coat Captioning @whitecoatcapx.

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Recorded at:

Jan 12, 2018