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Change With No Change

Published: September 02, 2017

1 KaXHBQEOcehgWCTIPZYHWw https://mentaleldar.deviantart.com/art/crazyness-270544628Have you ever had this conversation with a friend (or your inner-self)


How is work?

There have been a ton of changes …Has anything changed?

No.The odd thing is that nothing actually changes, but meanwhile everything is changing!

Nothing actually changes. Poorly behaving (and performing) executives keep their jobs. Underfunded teams remain underfunded teams. There are no new investments in tooling, the deployment pipeline, testing environments, configuration management, etc. The CEO still jams silver bullets through the system. Incentive structures, titles, constraints, longtime exec feuds, how decisions are made, hiring practices, bad behavior, and toxic partnerships… all stay — the — same.

**But everything changes: **a re-org every month, shuffling teams, consultants, a “new strategy”, introducing copycat practices ([insert method X], lots of sticky notes, rotating managers, outsourcing, vague communications about culture, and a newfound myopic focus on a “do or die project” with a return to “business as usual” in a month or so.

It’s like changing your outfit every day to impress someone, but forgetting to brush your teeth. Or buying a “3 Easy Installments of $99.00” exercise gizmo, and not actually exercising.

You need something to actually CHANGE on a deep and lasting level:

  • Changes in external environment (e.g. competitive landscape)
  • Introduce new sources of information into the system
  • Change how information moves through the system
  • Change a behavior. Introduce a new behavior. Amplify/dampen a behavior. Learn and apply a new behavior
  • Automate an activity
  • Use new tools. Or use existing tools in different ways
  • Change code, architecture, design, process, patterns …”how things work”
  • Change how you allocate your focus, time, energy, and money
  • Add new sources of energy
  • Change how actors participate in the system (e.g. decision making, incentives, collaboration)
  • Change the actors in the system
  • Change “structure” (actor proximity, pattern of incentives, power flow, information flow,resource flow, actor relationships)
  • Change how you assess/frame progress You get the idea.

Re-orgs may move people around, but they often fail to change how the actors participate in the system. Adopting “Agile” may change how projects are delivered, but it doesn’t impact which projects get prioritized. You pledge to be customer-centric, but receive no new data regarding your customers.

Nothing angers and alienates employees more than a series of surface-adjustments without an attempt to dig deeper. Experimenting with a clear goal in mind (while engaging your team in the experiment) is a good thing. Experimenting ON YOUR TEAM is not a good thing.

Or maybe even going up a level … change is what you might see as a RESULT of you trying to intervene. The interventions themselves are not the changes … the interventions are tactics. If the tactics produce no change…well, they’ve failed.