Change – what is it good for?
As the old saying goes, “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” But is that enough to motivate a person to resist and refuse to do things in new ways?
Whatever happened to the concept of “good enough", as opposed to, “everything has to be my way" before I’m willing to so much as touch the new method or solution?
Why is change so difficult? Is it easier and more appealing to live with something unpleasant and inconvenient than to risk making a change? How unpleasant (or expensive) does something need to be before we take action (or accept that actions are being taken) and carry out the necessary modification to a method, procedure or system?
Does it take outside influence, such as a requirement from a customer / government authority, before a change gets made, when it really should have been made a long time ago? And could it be that this procrastination mind-set is why, when a decision finally is made to implement something new, the expectation is then that it will be so advanced, different, and new that all you’ll need is to provide your fingerprints or eye colour, and then the rest will almost magically happen by itself?
From time to time, those of us who make our living developing and delivering software for professionals – and who have done so for more than 25 years – run into the kind of “single-effort” cultures that often lead to implementation projects getting freighted with a high number of goals to achieve. We see that priorities get changed along the way and that expectations from both the implementation project participants and the end users often need to be resynchronised.
We are all creatures of habit and the introduction of new ways of working needs to take that into account when changes are implemented. The creatures of habit will automatically resist if they do not see the imminent value that the change entails. So one of the most important things you can do during the change implementation process is to keep repeating the Whys.
How do you implement change?
To ensure that change projects achieve their intended (positive) effect, I have collected the following pieces of good advice over the years:
- Determine early on what the goals (success criteria) are
- Communicate and repeat internally the Whys (the reasons for the change(s))
--> Also don’t forget to remind people of what could happen if the changes are not implemented
- Listen to the reactions of the employees and involve them in the process
- Keep to the plan and communicate any changes that are adopted along the way (including why)
--> Communicate about the progress made along the way
- Update the procedures in accordance with the new methods so that everything is synchronised.
- Remember to celebrate when the changeover has been completed and the old routines are a thing of the past!