Comfort in safety

It’s tempting to create a safe product or service for all your stakeholders.

Safe, because safe is beyond reproach. It meets spec. It causes no disruption.

All your stakeholders, because if all your stakeholders are happy then no one is unhappy.

The trouble is that the groups of stakeholders who are happy with safe are comfortable. They aren’t looking for change.

Change and safe don’t really coexist, and so the stakeholders who are comfortable aren’t looking for you. In fact, they’re largely ignoring you.

What do you want?

Let me take a stab …

You’d like to be respected, successful, rewarded, suitably challenged, and maybe a little renowned for what you do. You’d like to do work you’re proud of and do it for a goal you care about.

What’s missing from that list?

That you need a window seat with a particular view. That you have to produce your work in an iterative way, not sequential. That you want all your stakeholders to arrive fully prepared for your meetings.

These details aren’t what matters. What matters is that just as your stakeholders wish to move along their emotional journey, through fear to hope, so do you.

This opens up the realms of possibility. Many windows of opportunity.

It helps to follow certain career truths. If you want to be rewarded, you probably need a salary increase or a new position. If you want to be promoted, you probably need to consistently deliver value to the right people who will happily recognise you for it. If you want to be proud of your work, you probably need to avoid pushing the pencils around and criticizing the way things are done around there.

Within the organisation, though, there’s a huge amount of whitespace. Space for you to dig in deep and figure out what change you want to make, and how (and who) you seek to serve.

This might be a good time to go back to the X/Y map exercise, to work through it again to find some new axes, new dimensions, new promises. First, find stakeholders worth serving, and then find the change worth making.

Where’s the block of ice?

When a stakeholder doesn’t act as you expect them to, find their fear.

It’s tricky to imagine a better place when you’re about to hit an iceberg. Even (or especially) if all the barriers are in the unconscious mind.