The sucker’s choice

Friday, October 26, 2007 – 11:27 PM

I’ve been attending a crucial conversations class at Microsoft. One of the things were were talking about was the sucker’s choice. A conversation based about seemingly bad two choices; A or B. For example I can either meet the deadline or ship a quality release but achieving both seems impossible. We get suckered into picking A or B when really both are bad. The key with the sucker’s choice is turning the debates into how we can get A and B. How can I ship a quality release and meet the deadline.

I think there’s another trick. Most crucial conversations are driven by fear. Usually it’s really about A or B or else. The “or else” usually being something really bad; like getting fired or a bad review. If you can remove the fear then it’s much easier to start thinking of A and B – even if it appears more risky – or even another option C. Maybe C is the most honest and professional solution? Maybe C is telling management the team is not prepared to sacrifice quality and what they’re asking for isn’t possible without altering scope. Is that scary? Might you get fired? That’s the fear, the “or else” talking.

Get past the fear. Do you really want to work for a team or company that puts you in that sort of position? Make the right choice because you’ll have to live with it.

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