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Thanks for taking the time to read our weekly newsletter to help you get Unstuck! Check us out every week for your dose of agile inspiration. We’re striving to keep the content in our 4 Qs brief and powerful so you can get a lot of impact from a little reading!

Quintessential Thought

Last time, we started a series to help you and your teams find actionable steps in complexity, addressing the challenging phrase, “I can’t because…” by finding small steps that are in our control.

But when we’re trying to enable higher levels of effectiveness, we will find plenty of things around us that aren’t in our control. In this case, a different question is crucial: how can I influence the situation?

  1. Identify Decision-Makers: Who has the ability and power to change things? Who has access to and trust with the people who do?

  2. Craft a Compelling Case: Remember our killer combo of data and storytelling from a previous newsletter? Use that to show why change is needed.

  3. Get Creative with Requests: Often, it doesn’t work to ask for everything at once. Instead, craft a request that is headed in the direction you’re trying to do. Here are some options:

  • Help: Enlist their expertise to explore solutions.

  • Permission: Request a tweak to a constraint or delegation.

  • Change: Propose an adjustment to a process or structure.

Also, make use of these two powerful “request wrappers” that can address risk and resistance:

  • Experiments: Request a change for a short period of time, plan a review afterward, and you can all decide on the next steps. You can read more about setting up an experiment as a hypothesis here.

  • Partnership: To avoid an “us vs. them” tug-of-war, strive to find an overlap of your goals with theirs. The territory in-between is rich for partnership, where both of you can find a way through the change together.

By influencing situations, we can make a real difference – even when we don't have complete control.


“A clever, imaginative, humorous request can open closed doors and closed minds.” – Percy Ross

“The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.” – Ken Blanchard

“Influence does not require position.” – Richie Norton

Quick Step

What is a small thing you can request that will make progress on a challenging situation?


What is holding you back from finding a new way to influence the most challenging situation for your team or product?

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