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Understand Position and Interest To Make Better Collaborative Decisions

Published 9/9/2022

What people ask for is not the same as why they ask for it. What people want isn't as simple as what they say they want.

Understanding the why is critical - the interest is just as important as the position.

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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Every day you are probably faced with making decisions based on what you and other people want. In fact, isn't this what we're doing every day in our lives? Interestingly, a lot of the time what we hear that people want and what they actually want don't necessarily line up. My name is Jonathan Cutrelley listening to Developer Tea. I go on the show and stop children developers like you find clarity, perspective and purpose in their careers. That goal, my goal of helping you find clarity, perspective and purpose is accomplished through a specific action, this podcast. If I were to change that action, that implementation, that specific tactic to accomplish my goal, well, I still am getting what I am saying at least that I want. If I were to change the goal, it's possible that I can continue doing this podcast and meet a different goal. Think about this for a second. The actions that you take, the decisions that you make, what you're actually doing in the world can meet different goals. This is critical to understand for a few reasons. The first reason is because it helps you realize that you can have a common shared action. You can have a common shared action, something that you do with another person. This is what we do when we work on teams together. But we can have different goals and all of us can actually achieve those goals. Notice that I'm not saying outcomes, that we're not saying that you can have competing outcomes, competing goals. Instead, recognizing that there are actions we can take, there are tactics that we can employ that help us meet more than one goal. And it follows that there are goals that can be met with more than one kind of action. This is important to understand, especially for that first reason that we can compose our teams together. We don't have to have the same goals, we don't have to all have the same values, we don't have to have the same tactic plan to be able to work together and achieve our goals. We can set up common outcomes that we're looking to achieve and we can achieve our individual goals as well. It's not a zero sum game, but additionally that second part, you can achieve the same goal with multiple tactics. You can get the same benefit and change the underlying way that you're getting that benefit. So the way this tends to play out is we get some kind of request. This might be a request for your team to build something. It might be a request for you to attend a meeting, it may be a request for your time for some of the thing. Whatever the request is, typically the request is formed as a position. In other words, the person is saying a specific thing they want you to do. They want you to build something, they want you to spend time participating in a specific event. Whatever it is, they figured out what they want you to do. Sometimes it is as simple as them wanting you to do something that is well within your job description, or something that you're willing to do and it solves the problem and you move forward. But sometimes the request is colliding with another request. Sometimes it's causing difficulty and scheduling, for example. So your job, if you're going to resolve these kinds of things and spend your time wisely, spend your time efficiently and seek out high leverage activities, is to instead of looking at a position, this is again, the position is something that somebody wants you to do specifically, or some specific series of events or something occurring. Instead of looking at the position, you look for the interest. What are they trying to get? What is the specific benefit of that particular thing? Why are they doing this specific action? Why do they want you to do this specific action? Very often when we look at the position, we are constrained. But if we look at the interest, we have many options available. This goes back to what we were saying before, that there are often many ways to achieve a given goal. If you look at the position, you're going to be constrained. But if you look at the interest, it often opens up new options that you hadn't considered before. Very often you can use the interest along with unique information that you have, or unique skills that you have, to achieve that particular interest in a different, perhaps better way. Maybe instead of having a meeting, you can send along a link with documentation or perhaps instead of doing that project in that particular way, you could rely on existing work. If you listen closely here, you may hear that this is actually similar to negotiation tactics. What you're trying to understand is, what is it that the other person wants? And not what they are asking for, but what is it that they really want? What is the value of the thing that you're providing them? Think about it like this. Somebody who's buying a truck doesn't necessarily want to simply own a truck. They may have, for example, really specific use cases for a truck that can also be solved by, say, getting a trailer and a tow hitch. Or maybe the reason that they want to own a truck is because they have some nostalgia. Maybe a friend or a family member own a truck one time, and they want to emulate or revisit the feeling of riding in a truck. There are many reasons that they would have the position of wanting to own a truck. But the position doesn't necessarily tell you what the interest is. Thanks so much for listening to today's episode of Develop a Tea. I hope you will take this and consider as you're making plans, making decisions with other people collaborating, consider digging a layer deeper, understanding both the position and the interest. It's easy to conflate these two things. It could be a much better decision maker, a much better leader, but much better engineer. You're going to make better decisions with your personal time, if you're going to understand the difference between position and interest. Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, enjoy your tea.