I love this blog post by Ben Horowitz. Like all great things, it is simple, understandable, and pushes the solution to those that are most affected by it. I’m a big believer in standing in someone else’s shoes – but hadn’t thought of doing it so literally.
I remember working on a cross-division initiative at Microsoft. The divisions had not been happy with each other for a while. Being new to the role, I went over to my counterpart and said “I hear that you feel we haven’t been working well with you. Tell me about it.” He vented for a while, then ran down. I then described my work history, and how I understood where they were coming from. I explained what I understood the problem was from our division’s side and how we could work together to fix both. When he saw that I was able to stand in his shoes, and I helped him stand in mine, we came to an agreement fairly quickly on a path forward, and worked together to push things through with our various VPs.