Down & Brown
since 1998


One of the most frustrating things about work is ownership. Often I'm upset by not being close enough to the decision points in a project. Those decision points may determine direction, resourcing, purpose, fit, and finish. I'm happy to accept I'm a shocking back-seat driver. But I guess reconciling the reality of being a consultant, a developer, or — as I'm sometimes referred to — a resource, is an ongoing problem.

That problem stems from immaturity and an unwillingness accept the directions and decisions set in a project. Furthermore it points to a lack of authority and credibility when raising objections to those decisions or direction. "Raising objections" is a very sanitised way of saying whining, moaning, complaining and resistance.

A pure-blood consultant knows the levers to pull and push that effect change and redirect a project towards their own preferences. A white-hat consultant obviously does this in alignment with the business goals and objectives. A black-hat consultant does this for personal benefit and disregard for the goals and objectives.

What are those levers though? — The answer really depends on your objectives. The actions required to effect change in process are different from those required to effect a change in the direction of a project.

A project being run in a modern way (agile, scrum, lean...whatever) is normally structured so that you are involved and have opportunities to feedback and offer suggestions about that a project. If you're thoughtful about your observations you can be influential during a retro and tease out concrete action. If not immediately, you at least have the opportunity to re-raise issues and direct attention towards them from a different angle.

Feedback must be accompanied with credibility and authority — failure to establish yourself in this way through your actions or communication will only lead to further frustration.

Often, my failure is to establish my credibility and authority, then to break through issues like a sledge-hammer. My severe objections come as an unpleasant and unwanted to surprise to someone who, for all intents and purposes, believes they are doing the right thing. While I can sometimes be excused for "wearing my heart on my sleeve", it is not an effective way to bring about change and it's something I'm working on.

We're all human, how do you change what you don't have ownership of?