The problem with blaming your boss or client

Paul Boag

Too often we blame our boss or client for failure. The truth is they are no more empowered than us. Ultimately the buck stops with us.

Do you find yourself frustrated by your boss or clients? Do they not seem to get the web? If so, then I have a little story to share.

I was recently presenting to web professionals in a huge organisation of over 27,000 employees. I gave a passionate talk about transforming their organisations approach to digital and at the end there was a Q&A time.

Overall the room was enthusiastic, but there were one or two dissenting voices. One in particular stood out. He said “This is all well and good, but you need to tell our bosses this.” This is a comment I hear a lot. Many web professionals feel they don’t have the authority to make change. They feel blocked by their bosses.

Interestingly, I was giving a similar presentation to the next level of management the same afternoon. I was going to do exactly what the dissenting voice wanted.

The afternoon came and I gave my presentation. Afterwards there was once again a Q&A time. And once again I got the same comment – “This is all well and go, but you need to tell our bosses that.

That is the problem in a nutshell. Every level of an organisation feels the same. Even the very top level of a company feels constrained by shareholder expectations, analysts predictions and numerous other factors.

I take away two observations from this little story.

Our bosses and clients have no more control than us

First, that we cannot moan about our bosses and clients failing to change things, because they face the same challenges we do. If we cannot bring about change, then we can expect them to.

We need more compelling arguments

Second, we need to get better at presenting compelling arguments. Each audience I spoke to wanted change, but asked me to present that argument to their boss. They wanted me as the ‘expert’ to convince others.

However, the truth is I am no more qualified to convince people than anybody else. I have no qualifications that make me an expert. My experience counts for little in the constantly changing landscape of the web. The only thing that enables me to convince is the power of my arguments. I have taken time to formulate a strong business case for change.

If you want to see digital taken more seriously, stop blaming your boss and start formulating strong arguments for change. Then start proclaiming it far and wide. It’s unfair to expect your boss to have all of the answers, they feel just as powerless as you. Ultimately all it takes is somebody willing to be a maverick and start disrupting things, ignoring the supposed constraints.