Why is it so difficult to talk to customers? Why do managers often end up making unrealistic demands on developers and encouraging them to make promises that they can't keep? Why do so many software projects end up in angry exchanges of accusation and counter accusation? Can any of this be explained? Can anything be done to make it better?
Researchers at the "Harvard Negotiation Project" claim that a great deal can be done to make things better. By understanding the structure of "difficult conversations" we can be made aware of the various points at which things can go badly wrong and sometimes avoid them. By understanding our own contribution to the problem we can adopt strategies that give us a chance to actually improve a situation.
Using as examples a particularly "difficult" conversation about the development of a website that I overheard in a cafe, and my own experiences in developing software over the last 15 years, I'd like to explore how understanding the nature of "difficult conversations" and some other basic negotiation strategies can help anybody involved in the business of developing software.
Suitable for anybody involved in the process of developing, managing or commissioning software.
Mark Stringer is a trainer, coach and consultant in the use of Agile methods. He's particularly interested in exploring project management methods that emphasise the human nature of project management, because he thinks they might actually work. (http://www.agile-lab.co.uk/2007/06/agile-lab-people.html)