Q: Have you ever had difficulty getting others to accept your ideas (for example, to change or improve a system)? What was your approach? Did it work?
I recently worked on an initiative to develop a common release versioning standard for our company. As a result of multiple mergers through the years, the teams were all doing things differently, which caused confusion among internal stakeholders and customers. I talked with the Vice President and explained why I thought we needed a standard and got his go-ahead to proceed with creating one. Prior to creating the standard, I talked with a lot of people in the company, from all different backgrounds, about how they versioned their product and why. I consolidated the research and chose some of the best parts for the new standard. I worked on getting senior leadership on board first, ensuring that I explained why it was important to have a standard across the company. After many discussions with them, and letting some time go by so they could absorb the changes, they bought in and helped me roll out the new standard to their (skeptical) managers. Knowing when to push and when to remain silent was essential through this exercise.
For three years, I was the chair of a process leadership team that included members of various functional areas outside my own. I led change initiatives that spanned all of Engineering, and at times, team members were concerned I might not know enough about other areas. I educated myself about the issues each team faced, industry best practices, and then proposed solutions that could work across our organization. Once the team saw how much personal time I’d invested, I gained their support and led the team to many successful changes.