login


Google Sign inLinkedIn Sign in

Don't have an account? 

Maintain Dispassionate Objectivity when Conflict-Solving

Reorganization
Conflict solving

29 March, 2019

Mike’s ability to remain objective throughout a highly stressful conflict between clients allowed him to navigate the situation in a way that led to happy clients and future professional opportunities.

Problem

I was working as a strategy consultant to a new software joint venture between two US government-sponsored financial entities. My clients were the JV executive team, as well as management of both parent companies, and my job was to help stand up all the functions and processes needed to operate a software firm. My clients were frustrated with the politics at the parent companies--competitors of each other--which were preventing them from executing on their business plan. While this case was pretty severe, I found this to be similar to internal departmental politics at other technology companies.

Actions taken

I spent several months building relationships with stakeholders across multiple companies and understanding their objectives and motivations. I held weekly status meetings with the JV execs to review conversations and feedback from across the companies, facilitated by updated roadmaps, a catalog of risks & issues, and the backlog of work to be accomplished. I would move forward on planning for initiatives that were being blocked by parent companies, so we would be prepared to move once a decision on direction was made. As a neutral party, I could easily expose different teams positions on various topics just as a metric I was regularly reporting on, which de-politicized things and made them more objective. Often it was enough just to point out there was a difference of opinion and have it hanging out there for everyone to see, to get parties to change their position--no confrontation necessary.

Lessons learned

Dispassionate objectivity is always really hard to maintain, as inevitably we build different relationships with different people, and some are closer than others. In this case, I was successful at doing this equitably enough amongst all the stakeholders that both the JV execs and parent companies realized I (and my company) understood their business and their politics, and cared about the success of all parties. As a result we won more business not only at the JV, but at both parent companies, in the tens of millions of dollars. I was also asked to join future projects (including internal ones) dealing with many similar issues around integration, and deciding responsibility and accountability of various parties across many business functions.


Related stories

Improving Collaboration Between Engineering and Product Across Time Zones
6 July

Shridharan Muthu, VP of Engineering at Zoosk, describes how to make communication effective between PMs and engineers when they are located in different time zones and have very little overlap.

Collaboration
Internal Communication
Reorganization
Remote
Shridharan Muthu

Shridharan Muthu

VP of Engineering, Backend Applications at Zoosk

An Acquisition Across Time Zones
6 July

Shridharan Muthu, VP of Engineering at Zoosk, speaks of the time his company was acquired by another org in a time zone half a world away, listing issues and providing solutions to how he overcame the time disparity while transferring product knowledge.

Reorganization
Internal Communication
Motivation
Remote
Shridharan Muthu

Shridharan Muthu

VP of Engineering, Backend Applications at Zoosk

Some Ideas for Breaking Down Silos In Your Organization
30 June

Jeff Foster, Head of Product Engineering, shares how he managed to break down silos in his organization by encouraging their employees to choose their own team.

Team reaction
Managing Expectations
Company Culture
Internal Communication
Collaboration
Productivity
Reorganization
Jeff Foster

Jeff Foster

Head of Product Engineering at Redgate

Using Tiger Teams to Solve Problems and Create an Environment for Learning
24 June

Arjun Rao is the Director of Engineering at Place Exchange. Here, he talks about how he assembled a tiger team, which is a specialized, cross-functional team brought together to fix or investigate a critical issue, and how that team helped resolve a specific problem within a short period of time.

Team reaction
Collaboration
Reorganization
Impact
Arjun Rao

Arjun Rao

Director of Engineering at Place Exchange

Restructuring to Feature-Based Teams
11 June

Stefan Gruber, VP of Engineering at Bitmovin, recounts transitioning engineering teams from a component and language-based structure to a feature-based team structure and describes the results that manifested as a result of the reorg.

Reorganization
Stefan Gruber

Stefan Gruber

VP of Engineering at Bitmovin

You're a great engineer.
Become a great engineering leader.

Plato (platohq.com) is the world's biggest mentorship platform for engineering managers & product managers. We've curated a community of mentors who are the tech industry's best engineering & product leaders from companies like Facebook, Lyft, Slack, Airbnb, Gusto, and more.