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I'm attempting to build a future and current reality tree regarding changing policy and procedure to data access, but we're being given undesirable effects that are entirely divorced from reality.

For instance, we're asking for a list of locations for all the fire hydrants in a municipality, and one objection brought up was that if this data is made public then "we've given vandals the power to find every fire hydrant and destroy them". Another similar objection was that we can't have real-time tracking of bus data because this will "empower stalkers to harass and follow people around.".

I deeply, deeply wish these were made up. I really do. I also wish running away from these "reasons" was something we could do, or shoving my fingers in my ears screaming "na na na na poo poo I can't hear you," but the fact of the matter is I really need to figure out the genuine UDEs that are causing them to bring up these absurd scenarios. They're scared of something, and I can't make a negotiation or draw a plan that makes both sides happy because they won't actually tell us.

How do I get to the bottom of this and make everyone happy? Is using intuition suitable in this case to try and "dream up" their actual UDEs? I find myself painting them as evil or corrupt when I do so, which I know is probably the wrong way to go about this.

  • I don't know what you can do, the objections sound absurd. Fire hydrants are already painted bright red or yellow and made as visible as possible...a map would hardly make it easier for vandals. – CaffGeek Feb 27 '12 at 17:08
  • Liked the question, although have no contributions to add. Liked the reality tree concept, I haven't heard about it before. – Tiago Cardoso Feb 27 '12 at 17:13
  • @Chad Not so much worried about the nonsense objection as I am getting around them. I don't want to address fantasy, I want to deal with the reality that they felt like they had to preform such mental gymnastics to find reasons not to give us that information. – Incognito Feb 27 '12 at 18:02
  • @TiagoCardoso A good place to start is reading It's not luck. – Incognito Feb 27 '12 at 18:03
  • What is the relationship of these complainers with the project? Are they team members, customers...? That will determine the approach to address the issue. – mhoran_psprep Feb 27 '12 at 18:14
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You need that top cover to pull the complainers into the process. This is what needs to be done:

  • Express their objection in written form. (this makes sure you have a fixed complaint instead of a constantly shifting one)
  • The complainers must also include the source of the comment. Customer feedback, Public Law, internet search, their own experience...
  • If they are seen as a trouble maker their role in the process is over.
  • If they are seen as cooperative, and wanting to cover all the issue from all angles, assign them to a small group to work on the issue. Give them a few days to create a couple of page paper on the topic. This paper should discuss the issue, and possible solutions.

If the complainers won't assist you in this effort, the top leadership needs to address the issue.

The other concern is that maybe the request from leadership is flawed. You may not be able to tell until you can find the real concerns.

  • Not sure I agree with "their role in the process is over" as good advice here because the people involved may actually own the areas that the op is negotiating on. Other than that, great answer. With that said, if these naysayers are of course not decision-makers, then the op can simply document the risk and move on. – jmort253 Feb 28 '12 at 1:50

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