Bring clarity, not blockers
(Originally written on 29 July 2020 in my personal notes)
Ever been in a situation like below?
A Manager, stakeholder or old employee with historical context walks into a meeting only to talk about an issue, but add nothing else. As a next step, the team tries to solve the problem, but the solutions are either not reviewed, not accepted, or worse - the same stakeholders complain about it after it has been released to production. If this happens often, then more should be expected of this topic expert.
Topic experts at workplaces would very often take part in discussions to provide perspective. This includes throwing light on details and scenarios that may be unknown to the team.
It is equally important to make an attempt to help resolve the issue. So if you take part in a conversation, do it with the intention of bringing clarity, not blockers.
Start with “Here’s something that we should be aware of”
Don’t start by shooting someone in the room by with “Your solution does not work”. Instead, use facts and reasoning to make the team realize that the solution might not work. After all, even the topic expert can be wrong.
Continue with “Here’s something we can do to resolve this”
It is of utmost importance that you attempt to provide a solution or atleast parts of it. By doing so you admit that you want to resolve it.
My self-observation is that I communicate clearly when I write. So I prefer to write a wiki page or send emails, instead of verbal conversations. YMMV.
And extend it with “Here’s what I can do to help”
By providing perspective and a possible solution, you already contribute towards moving forward. But if there’s something you can specifically do, say it out loud. It matters that you are willing to be part of the solution.
When you contribute to the solution, your role changes from a mere stakeholder, to someone that is part of the solution - skin in the game. This helps in environments where stakeholders are not trusted to stick to decisions.