It's a Project Manager's World Newsletter with Dr. James Brown
      May, 2013 Full Moon Edition      

Assure commitment from the team and stakeholders

February's newsletter identified my top ten project manager success factors.  The number three success factor on that list was “Assure commitment from the team and stakeholders.”

Project managers often do not have direct authority over team members.  They are even less likely to have authority over high level stakeholders.  Yet team members and high level stakeholders must be led.  Leading them involves garnering their commitment to support you and the project.

Establishing this commitment is much easier when you understand the psychological principles underpinning the creation of commitment. 

I have long been an advocate of use of these principles.  There is a new book that provides a comprehensive, actionable summary of these methods.  The book is How to Get People to Do Stuff: Master the art and science of persuasion and motivation by Susan Weinschenk. To quote Ms. Weinschenk

"The more you understand psychology, the better you'll be able to sync what you want people to do with what they want to do. Ultimately it's not about manipulation- it's about understanding.

This is well stated… my article Is Manipulation Ethical caused quite a stir from the PMI ethics committee  even though the article essentially stated what Ms. Weinschenk said.

Below are just 10 excerpts from How to Get People to Do Stuff that ringed true with me... these may seem simple or obvious but the book provides powerful context associated with the statements below.

1. "When people feel they are working with others as a team to reach a goal, they are more motivated to achieve the goal, even without any extrinsic reward, than if they are working alone."

2. "...our brains react in a special way to people we know. People are more likely to do stuff if they know the person asking them, regardless of whether they have differences of opinion with the person."

3. "Research in psychology over the last 15 years has revealed that people process information unconsciously and make very quick (a second or less) unconscious decisions about people."

4. "People will listen to the leader and be more likely to do what the leader suggests. If you want to be the leader, and you want people to do stuff, make sure you speak first."

5. "No idea in this book is more powerful than the idea of using stories to affect behavior."

6. "People often confuse negative reinforcement with punishment, but they are not all the same thing. Negative reinforcement is powerful in changing behavior, and punishment is not as effective."

7. "One way you can get people to do stuff is to invoke a fear of loss. Our instincts are so alert and averse to loss of any kind that we are unconsciously more motivated to take action based on the fear of loss than the anticipation of gain."

8. "To get people to do stuff, you need to offer a few (three or four at most) clear choices so they feel in control."

9. "A good teacher knows how to take a body of knowledge or skill set and break it down into smaller chunks. A good teacher is a master of mastery. Knowing how to chunk skills and information into the right-size bites for a particular individual is what a good teacher does."

10. "When you can get people to ask themselves a question beginning with "Will I...," you're more likely to get them to act on the statement."

In many training classes people ask me how do I get my (leader/team member/steering committee) to do that?  A combination of what is in this book and your contextual knowledge of the people in the situation is the solution to get them to do that (whatever that is).  

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