Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Angering My Control Freak


This is what MY control freak looks like.
From rottentoons.com
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When we last left the LMS - Sid (my soft skills counterpart) was bemoaning how we can't seem to get our colleagues to see the value of having one place for training across the university.

We let the sleeping dog lie for awhile. Neither of us had the energy or the time to sell the idea.

Rumblings occurred earlier this month that important stakeholders are now interested in making our little LMS (which is currently serving as a content warehouse) into a full-fledged useful learning management system.

One place for training of all types (rather than making people call 5 departments to find the information they need).

One place for reports on courses and on what employee is taking which course.

It seemed like an insumountable cultural challenge. We are all used to our little fiefdoms.

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Right before vacation, Sid quietly asked if she can help gather information for interfacing our pet LMS with the university's enterprise application. I gave her what we had and sent her on her way. Didn't have the bandwidth to figure out why she asked (too involved in the Web project).

During my vacation - there was a meeting of all of the stakeholders.

An amazing thing happened during that lull. All of the resistance seemed to disappear....

And some of the people who resisted are now chomping at the bit to get started. To help. To make this thing an honest to goodness tool that we ALL can use.

So the Manager, the Director and I now find ourselves with the opposite problem - too MUCH help.

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I talked to the Director this afternoon after one of our stakeholders jumped the gun. The stakeholder meant well. She wanted information and she had excellent contacts to get it. Thankfully, she also thought to give me a buzz.

My first gut reaction, after hearing that she scheduled teleconferences with the vendor and her contacts at an organization also using the LMS was

Oh No!!! Why didn't you talk to US first!!!!
(The little control freak on my shoulder, bouncing up and down screaming...)

Thankfully, the stakeholder told me this over the phone, so she couldn't see my face. I also had enough presence of mind this time to NOT say what I first thought and listened carefully.

This could be a good thing. I told the control freak on my shoulder. We need the help. These are important stakeholders and they really OUGHT to have a piece of the process. The tool really needs to be for everyone and I really want to hear the questions the stakeholder has for the vendor and the user organization. We're finally getting traction. Best not to slow it down.

Baaaaahhhhhhh!!!! said the control freak. What about consistency of message! They are doing it because you are too slow! Didn't do enough! They want control of your baby!!!!!! Don't do it!!!!!

If this is going to work, we need to get the stakeholders actively involved and helping us DO stuff. Not just TELLING us what to do.

The Director was having a similar conversation with her control freak too.

After we both compared control freaks (I think hers is blue) and came up with a strategy to temporarily mollify the control freaks while encouraging help from the over-enthusiastic stakeholder, I stuffed my control freak in a desk drawer and locked it.

I can still hear her muffled complaints.

Little does the control freak know that tomorrow, I am giving away even more control...to my soft skills counterpart, Sid......

(to be continued.....)

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