EOH Agile Blog

Change now and ask for forgiveness later

“I can’t handle this anymore, we have to change this….”

What exactly am I talking about? Standards. Stupid standards that make no sense.

Let’s back up a little.  I want to start by talking about well-intentioned individuals. Never mind well intentioned, well studied and high qualified people that have made decisions and put process and procedures in place that very honestly are the most absolutely absurd things you have ever encountered. Ringing a bell?

So what happened? Why did these obviously very intelligent people do such stupid things?  I hear myself and others asking this question all the time.

Well, having been a development manager myself, I think I have some insight here, because I also put some standards in place for people to follow.

Should people follow these standards? Absolutely maybe!

I guess the thing to ask is why the standards, processes or rules got put in place. Can anyone say why? If we can understand that then we can change but removing or change before understanding is simply dangerous and irresponsible. If we know why then maybe we can improve with a new better process or set of rules. That sounds simple, but the problem is more complex. Why? Hierarchy that’s why.

Some folks further up the chain are still operating with yesterday standards and believe them to be the right way. Hell, they got there by improving things just like you want to. How did they improve things? Standards. Challenging these standards can be a CLM (Career limiting move) or can simply be frustrating for everyone involved.  That’s why most people just accept the status quo and don’t challenge.

Sometimes it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission

Now I don’t say that in a rebellious tone, so don’t get me wrong. What I mean is that a successful change agent quickly learns that sometimes change is up to them or a group of people in the system. Waiting for the authority to make the needed changes is simply not a good option. So pull the change closer to the people doing the work.   

Change the focus from them to us

Rather than waiting for some miracle to happen in the hierarchy above you, find a way to get the change you want or need while still appearing to operating in the old way. Yes, create an interface. You create a new process/way while still interfacing with the old way/process. A small overhead yes, but if the changes you make have successful outcomes it won’t be long before people above you in the hierarchy come calling, asking you what you did that got these great improvements, and like we said before these people didn’t get to their positions because they are slow or unintelligent people so you can probably expect them to realize that there is a new better way and a new stand will be declared.

So don’t throw your hands up and feel like it’s all up to others and everything is out of your control.  Find a way to make the new and old live side by side for a bit.

That’s change logic and thats Kaizen.  Happy changing.

- Kevin Shine

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