Lessons from a Determined Influencer: The Rise, Fall – and Eventual Resurrection of Monica Ashley, Revolutionary Product Manager
This complicated example reveals many layers of challenges over several years, and demonstrates how a project management job calls for the ability to determine key players, figure out what is important to them, and utilize a full palette of influence skills to bring a major strategic project to fruition. Monica Ashley had to overcome deep resistance from a powerful technical guru, and she finally won the arguments about going outside for needed technology, but because of her approach, was removed from the product development project and placed in “the penalty box” for a year. If your job brings you into contact with multiple stakeholders who must be won over in order to be successful, you will find the attention required to understand the situation to be well worth your time.
Some of the lessons from Monica’s experience include:
- Having the right data is a start, but often not enough for influence
- Influence requires considerable relationship building and maintenance
- You have to work your supportive relationships as well as overcome the resisters
- When people you respect are not doing what you want, do not write them off; inquire and learn
- The higher you go in management, the more that subtle norms of behavior are in operation, and the more they affect your reputation and career
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