Why don't they change: what if I could just snap my fingers?

· April 14, 2015

Yes, it’s another post on change management. As a consultant … well that’s basically your job. And most of my engagements are of consultancy type. But change management is very trick to do right, frustrating and … simply wonderfully rewarding if you get it to work.

Sadly this post is describing my frustrations rather than a “one size fit all situation” solution. Of course, since those solutions don’t really exists in reality. Where I work.

I wanted to share a thought that went through my head one day when I was particular frustrated. And then tell you why it was stupid and how I now changed my thinking about this problem / situation.

Yes - it will be great fun. Mmmmmm frustration…

Just kidding but I will try to write this so I can use it as a nice reminder post for when I fall into this reasoning again. Maybe you find it useful too.

Once again I was pondering why “they” just couldn’t understand and start to do goal driven plans, a vision statement that actually helped us to know where we were going and things like that.

And I thought to myself:

I wish I could just snap my fingers and then they would just GET it and do as I wanted.

It was that last part that got me thinking. “as I wanted” - what good is that? Or put differently; am I sure that my current thinking is good for them? There’s a lot of preconceptions there.

Yeah… what if?

But, let’s run with that idea for a little while: what if they “just got it” and did what I wanted?

I’ve actually been there at a client in Sweden. I passed a scrum meeting for a team I’ve introduced to the process. And I heard this:

What are you doing? You can't skip a column with the sticky?
Why not? There's no "Analyze" to be done on this item.
Well, Marcus said that you can't. So we shan't.

My heart sank. This is called “act without thinking” and is what ends up giving a lot of different processes and tools a bad name. Hey, even TDD was not intended to be executed without using your brain.

If I got “them” to do exactly what I told them, I would get just that. People doing what I wanted. Not better than me. No new ideas etc.

There’s a better way… “Failing”(tm)

I’m a open fanboy of David Marquet, in the best video I’ve seen with him speaking he says this:

... the people are out there making decisions as if the CEO was standing behind them. And if it's not the same decision it's actually **a better decision**. Because they have the information.

Last two sentences most important…

Oh I love that.
Oh I hate that. Because it’s so hard to do, accept and live after.
But that doesn’t make it less true.

In me failing to reach “my” goal of making them act as I do, “they” might reach a better goal than I ever could come up with. Because they have the information. The information that changes over time.

So they didn’t change as I wanted. Have I failed? Yes. Does that matter? No… time will tell. But in my strive to reach a goal I set up, I have probably nudge them a bit in a direction that will help them improve.


I rather fail to reach “my” goal in change “them”, and move them a little bit in the right direction (or even just give “them a new idea”) - than to succeed to implement “my” goal… taking “them” to a place where they shouldn’t be.

Ha! Easy!
Now I just have to remember this next time frustration kicks in. And don’t be sad when I fail.

Twitter, Facebook