Agile Negotiation: The Agilist’s Guide to Persuasion and Influence
Years ago, around the time I first discovered Scrum, I took Jimi Fosdick’s CSM course. Armed with new knowledge, I dove in the next week with my new Scrum team. I figured I had all the tools I needed to be highly successful. After all, I was a Certified ScrumMaster, and I understood the Scrum framework: the meetings, the reason the ScrumMaster protects the team and removes impediments, and why the Product Owner prioritizes the backlog by business value.
I have learned a lot since my first week as a ScrumMaster. My introduction to Scrum inspired the start of my journey to become a Certified Scrum Trainer and to eventually work alongside Jimi here at CollabNet. What else have I learned? I realized that a CSM course is a foundation. Completing a CSM course gives you the knowledge to be a good ScrumMaster. To become a great ScrumMaster you need to continue to explore other tools to help your team be high performing.
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Earlier this year I was having a conversation with my good friend Emily who runs a consultancy to teach people and organizations how to negotiate skillfully and how to have difficult conversations that sometimes get brushed under the rug. She was working with a client who was using Scrum and was interested in finding out more about the framework. During our conversation, I thought to myself that the work she does would be amazingly helpful to agilists. Thankfully, Emily agreed, and we started discussing how we could work together to bring value based negotiation to the Scrum world.
What’s the definition of negotiation?
Anytime you attempt to influence or persuade someone you are negotiating. According to that definition, everyone negotiates constantly. We negotiate with our colleagues, managers, spouses, children, and friends. However, negotiation skill levels vary widely, and we often fall back on traditional “positional negotiation”, characterized by extreme positions and a process of offers and counter-offers where only one party is considered as “winning” the negotiation. Positional negotiation doesn’t embrace the Scrum values of openness, respect, and courage and can alienate us from the people with whom we’re negotiating. Positional negotiation may work well for one time sales (think of buying a car), but has no place in your Scrum team or agile organization. Successfully implementing agile requires a mastery of many skills. While there is great focus on technical mastery, crucial skills like listening and negotiation can often be overlooked.
Join us for our session at Agile 2013 on August 8th at 3:45pm to add a few more tools to your agilist’s tool belt. We’ll explore how to negotiate more skillfully while sticking to values that help teams and organizations be agile.