Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 17, Issue 50;   December 13, 2017:

Reframing Revision Resentment: II

by

When we're required to revise something previously produced — prose, designs, software, whatever, we sometimes experience frustration with those requiring the revisions. Here are some alternative perspectives that can be helpful.
A review meeting

Whether we're writing code, copy, or speeches, or designing a building, shooting a film, or laying out a landscape, our work can be subject to review. Reviewers ask for revisions. And revisions to the revisions. The experience can be frustrating, especially when we disagree with what we're asked to do. Here are some insights that might be helpful in those situations. As in Part I, I'm pretending that I'm advising the person making the revisions.

Let's not discard something that's good enough
If the required changes don't seem justifiable, maybe the problem is actually a disagreement about acceptance criteria.
Have you discussed acceptance criteria? If not, perhaps that's a place to start. But if you have discussed acceptance criteria, and didn't reach consensus, maybe that's the place to start. If the reviewers are unwilling, they might feel that they have the power to require the changes without your consent. If so, the problem might be deeper. Make the revisions, and when the reviewers are satisfied, and the dust has settled, try to determine what the real issue might be.
Let's not change it to something that's wrong
There The experience of having our
work reviewed can be frustrating,
especially when we disagree
with what we're asked to do
are many ways to be "wrong." The reviewers want something that won't do what they say they want; we (or someone we know) already tried that and it didn't work; or the change will make the current piece incompatible with other pieces of the same suite. And many more.
If you've made your case, and failed to persuade the decision-maker(s), revision might not be the problem — failure to persuade could be the problem. If you didn't have an opportunity to make your case, then that's the problem. Maybe you didn't seek the opportunity, or maybe you missed it, or perhaps your views aren't valued.
Because you might be mistaken about their request being "wrong," temper your response to the reviewers. For example, if what they want has been tried before, the fact that it didn't work is relevant only to the extent that the present context aligns with the prior context. See "Definitions of Insanity," Point Lookout for January 17, 2007, for more.

If your opposition to the required revisions is well known, some might anticipate that you'll resent having to make those revisions. Beware. If the effort fails, as you predicted it would, and you've done anything other than what was required, you might be accused of sabotage — possibly behind your back. Make the revisions the reviewers require. Do a superb job. Be certain that the reviewers are delighted. And then begin working on becoming more influential.

Problems of this kind frequently arise from communications difficulties. If satisfying the reviewers seems easier than untangling the communications issues, satisfy the reviewers first. Then work together to determine if or how communications contributed to the problem. Collaborate to resolve that problem before the next review. First in this series  Go to top Top  Next issue: Conceptual Mondegreens  Next Issue

101 Tips for Managing Conflict Are you fed up with tense, explosive meetings? Are you or a colleague the target of a bully? Destructive conflict can ruin organizations. But if we believe that all conflict is destructive, and that we can somehow eliminate conflict, or that conflict is an enemy of productivity, then we're in conflict with Conflict itself. Read 101 Tips for Managing Conflict to learn how to make peace with conflict and make it an organizational asset. Order Now!

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See also Effective Communication at Work and Conflict Management for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

A demanding managerComing April 14: What Micromanaging Is and Isn't
Micromanaging is a particularly dysfunctional pattern of management behavior, involving interference in the work others are supposedly doing. Confusion about what it is and what it isn't makes effective response difficult. Available here and by RSS on April 14.
A possibly difficult choiceAnd on April 21: Choice-Supportive Bias
Choice-supportive bias is a cognitive bias that causes us to evaluate our past choices as more fitting than they actually were. The erroneous judgments it produces can be especially costly to organizations interested in improving decision processes. Available here and by RSS on April 21.

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