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How To Win Trust For Your Software Development Ideas

how to win trust

Before you can try something new that requires other people to support you, you've got to win trust for your software development ideas.

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Do you want to try something new that requires other people to support you? Today I’d like to help you understand how to earn trust for your software development ideas.

Honestly Evaluate Your Current Skill

Before you begin to win trust for a new idea, you need to be critically honest with yourself about how skilled you are with implementing the idea. It’s fun to try new things, and we’re never “good” at them when we do them for the first time, but we should be careful not to “over-sell” our abilities.

Consider A Time-Boxed Research Spike To Determine Effort

You might want to consider using a time-boxed research “spike” to explore the true effort to try an idea, and to learn more details about what you just don’t know enough about yet. A time-box is simply a fixed period of time during which discovery of the idea or problem will take place before re-visited again.

Make sure you set the expectation with others that the conclusion of this spike will not be everything needed to move forward, but that it’s a chance to regroup and decide how much additional time to spend.

Establish Your Role In Collaborating

Critically important to getting your skills used so you can win trust with others is to establish your role when working with them. This isn’t the same as your job title or the skills you contribute to an effort or team, but rather what role you play in serving another.

Role 1: The “Expert”

The first role is the “Expert”, where you essentially swoop in, do the work, and vanish. Though this can be tempting for the person doing the work as you are essentially “not bothered” but the person you’re working with, you miss the opportunity to get feedback and really deliver excellent work that meets both your needs and draws from both your skills.

Role 2: The “Pair Of Hands”

The second role is the “Pair Of Hands”, which is somewhat the opposite of the “Expert”. In this role, the other person directs your every move, and it’s common in companies with a command-and-control structure or where micromanagement is the norm. This can provide more control to the other party, but it misses out on their ability to have more feedback from you while doing the work.

Role 3: The “Collaborator”

The third role is the “Collaborator”, which is what you want to try and shoot for with anyone for which you want to gain trust. In this style, the two of you do the work together and have an opportunity to both contribute ideas, provide feedback, and make progress. It may help to share these definitions with others to get them to understand the value of the collaborative style.

Align Motivation For Ideas With Others

It’s crucial that you align the purpose for the changes you wish to make to the motivation of the other party when “selling” the change or idea. You won’t know this without really knowing the person and their struggles, and so you should consider following my advice from other videos to get to know people on a more authentic, personal level. This will give you the ammunition you need to make sure the other person “gets” why the change is important – to THEM.

Use Incremental Wins Towards A Larger Goal

Though the idea you have might be of immense benefit in some way, it’s quite possible that the work involved, and changes to the mindsets of those effected, is too much to take on in one go. To get around this, slice up a large change into small increments and only “sell” the first piece. When you’ve successfully delivered this change, it will get easier to win support for future changes. Eventually you’ll get permission to make a larger change in one go.

Plan Your Detachment From Success

It can be tempting to be seen as the expert or guru around a particular change you helped make on a team or at a company from your ideas, but if you want to continuously innovate in your career, it’s better not to. Plan how you will detach from the success you make on a project or with a company so you are not a bottleneck that must be the “go to” person for that change from then on. You will want to explicitly bring others into the fold, make sure they are trained and understanding the change as well as you do, and able to step away when the change is complete so you can pursue your next big idea.


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On YouTube and all major podcast networks, Jayme shares teamwork and leadership strategies, guidelines for healthy company culture, and stories about real projects so you can have a sustainable career in the software industry.

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Jayme Edwards

A family man and veteran of nearly 40 software projects, Jayme experienced many wins and losses over his career as an architect and consultant.

Now he's coaching software developers, managers, and business owners to overcome challenges in the IT industry - so they keep growing.