Change is hard – pace yourself

Organizational change is hard.  In fact, any change is hard.  Whether it is successful or not, people are more comfortable with what they know and asking them to do things differently can be difficult.  When businesses adopt a program of change, they do not do it lightly or without purpose.  That said, they often engage in a program of change without really understanding what they are changing or why.  It is simple to believe that if what we are doing now is failing, doing something different will be better.

Today, many enterprises are looking to agile software development as a solution to slow releases and stagnating technology.  The belief is that agility will produce more software faster at lower cost.  While fully embracing a culture of agile innovation can achieve that result, the journey is long and difficult.  Often, organizations take on too much too fast and lose sight of the business goals or problems they are trying to solve.  These change programs are overwhelming and can lead to worsening problems and a retreat to the practices that, while know to fail, are comfortable and familiar.

A more pragmatic approach to transforming a business is to examine why change is desired and address the biggest problem first.  Focus on solving for one major business goal before moving on to the next.  This way, the business can consciously change to the appropriate level of agility and innovation for its culture and market.  Continuously evaluating the effectiveness of changes relative to business goals will give leadership the tools to decide how much to move forward or when to change course.  The cultural changes will have tangible value, giving the execution team something to rally around and feel proud about.

Change is hard, but with a focused plan it can be manageable and successful.  Change takes time, but measurable progress builds confidence and makes it easier.  Change can be frustrating, but understanding why it is happening will energize the team.  In the end, successful change is fun and rewarding for everyone involved.

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