The Politics of Escalation
Categories: stakeholder engagement
In all big relationships, be they supplier, outsourcing or strategic alliances, escalation processes are inevitable and necessary. They are formal procedures to resolve intractable problems between the parties. While accepting that these processes need to be used, and should be used, I do feel that they are often overused, and over-relied upon to solve problems.
Why? Well, to provoke a little debate:
There are many reasons why escalation should be minimised to the levels necessary for acceptable governance and compliance. For instance:
I'm sure you can think of more.
If you're considering escalation, challenge yourself hard:
If you're on the receiving end of escalations:
Yes, I am being deliberately provocative. My rationale is that there are always many ways to look at anything that is happening. When you're deep in the detail, it is really hard to see these alternatives unless someone like me grabs your attention and says, “Hey, what if this is true?”
I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts on this subject. The problems escalations are causing; the costs; the approaches you are taking? Indeed, what is the best practice out there for ensuring escalation is appropriate and positive?
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You may well think that the ultimate position to be in is one where you can influence other people, but they are unable to influence you. That is fantastic in the short term, but very unsafe longer term.
For a relationship to really work, both sides need to feel that they can influence the other side. If they feel strongly about something, they should have the chance to negotiate for a change. That is the only way that both sides can win in the long term.
If the other side of your relationship doesn't feel confident to challenge or influence you, they will soon begin to feel oppressed. Oppressed people will look for ways out or seethe until the revolution.