We have all been there – the road to solution has two paths and it seems nearly impossible to get to resolution. It is as if it a technical problem has become a political debate.
How to deal? I give you my strategies in the video below!
- Remember there is seldom one right answer to the problem
- Listen to both sides
- Make your opposer feel heard by repeating back their proposal with the good points about it
- Don’t be defensive
- Ask them to consider your idea – don’t force it on them
- Solve the problem collaboratively
- Focus on the pros, cons and risks of the solutions – not the solutions themselves
Video transcript is below:
So today we are going to cover a hot topic, and that is how to referee a technical discussion. So, we’ve all been there. You’re working on a technical problem and you’re trying to decide, should we go with solution A or solution B? And when it comes to technical problems and important thing to remember is that there’s never a single right answer, there’s just different solutions. Sometimes a solution sometimes may end up being what some might call a hack. Mostly because it’s a great solution for right now, but maybe not the solution you would build if you could take your time an build the scalable infinitely perfect solution. And so, when it comes to referee these technical discussions where there is no single right answer, how do you do it?
Don’t get caught in a technical debate instead focus on the merits of each solution using a simple template of pros and cons and risks.
Recently this happened to me. We were trying to debate if we should use a new database or scale our existing one. Me and one of my team members did not see eye to eye on this equation, and instead of making the conversation about which database technology, the one we were using or the new one being proposed was superior. The way I handled it was to actually talk about the merits of each solution for our organization.
Focus on the merits of the solutions, not the solutions themselves. Just like choose a date or an outfit. List the pros and cons and risks of each choice.
Instead of handling the technical solutions themselves, a great way of handling these situations is to look at the pros and the cons and the risks associated with each solution. In fact, when you are having a technical debate with someone else a great way to solve it is to first listen to their solution, listening is a very important skill. And then once you’ve heard them out start with “well here are the good parts about your solution.” That’s a great way to get on the same page and make sure that you are seeing all the benefits and their point of view. So for example you might say “well, I think that’s a great idea. In fact it hasn’t benefits of using a technology the team is already familiar with, and it’ll plug in nicely with our existing infrastructure. However, one of the downsides is that we’ve also shown that our existing infrastructure has problems scaling under a load. And with that being the case maybe we should consider another alternative.” and that is when you propose solution B. “I was thinking that”, present solution b. Then you can say here are the potential downsides of the solution and if you both are on the same page about those as well as the risks like perhaps not having the resources to do the job or the time it will take or maybe using an untested technology. Once you are both on the same page about these different things.
Focus on the merits of both solutions together. Doing this takes the personal part, the actual solutions out of the equation and it allows you to focus on something very concrete. At the end of the day which one is the right decision, there’s no right answer. So, if there’s not right answer then just allow us to really talk about pros and cons and make a decision that made sense for our team at the time. So next time you are faced with a technical discussion and you’re not seeing eye to eye with one of your peers, instead of going head to head and arguing about who is right. So, you want to articulate the pros and the cons of the solution. And isn’t that what all solutions should be about, the benefits and the downsides of both approaches?
Thank you so much for tuning in. If you have additional comments or tips on how to handle these tense technical discussions please leave them in the comments and if you like this video go ahead and subscribe to my channel for more.