I discussed recently changing the process in one of teams in the organization. In theory everything is totally easy. We need to assess current situation, find out what should be changed to improve the way the team works, apply new ideas and support them over some time to make them persistent and then go for a couple of beers and congratulate each other a stunning success.
In this specific situation we have already a couple of ideas which should help. And yes, they include K-word. Yet still the plan is to start as we didn’t know much about the team. We try to act as the hammer wasn’t the only tool in our toolbox, even though we do have a hammer too.
Once we know what is wrong we can apply a cure. And that’s where the hard part begins. If you look at typical pattern of change implementation you will see that the first period after inviting change sucks. People don’t know yet how to work with the new tool, process, rule, you-name-it. Outcomes are likely to be worse than with the old approach. After all, no one said changes are easy.
Now, here is the trick: if you’re trying to implement change you not only strive to overcome typical issues but also have a reluctant team, which doesn’t want any change at all, you’re going to fail.
People will get enough arguments to abandon change and if all they want is to get back to the good old way of doing things they will use this chance. What do you need to do then?
Get more team buy-in.
Actually this is what you should start with. When you assess current situation you talk with team members. If you don’t talk with people your assessment stinks anyway and I don’t want to touch it even with a stick. Use this opportunity to get people buy-in. You will need every single supporter you can have when issues start popping out.
Don’t implement change unless you’re able to convince people it is a reasonable idea which would help them and you really don’t try to make their lives more miserable. Even if you personally are convinced that you have a silver bullet which would change your crappy software house into another Google, only better, you won’t win against people who have to follow your process, execute your idea and deal with all of side effects of a new situation.
When I read discussions about some approach, which appears to be working rather poorly, the first thing which comes to my mind is lack of buy-in among people who are affected by the change. In terms of implementing agile we often forget that problems seen within development team are often triggered outside, likely by management. That’s why, for the purpose of this article, I use term “team” to name everyone whose work will be significantly affected by the change.
Anyway the pattern remains the same. You just need more buy-in. You may need to work on this with development team but you may need to work with management too. Whichever case is true in your situation, go fix it before you start implementing change. That is, unless you find it pleasant to fail.