Reluctance to change – Notebook

I’ve proposed an open spaces for DevOpsDays Amsterdam, 2021. The idea is:

The DevOps community pushes for people to change how they think and operate. When it comes to working better, we have proven tools, techniques, and even big picture ways of thinking like CALMS. You’re more than likely eager to try these new things, get better, change. However, many more people seem less than eager to change – your co-workers, managers, and the countless “others” in your organization. In the discussions I have with change agents and executives in large organizations, this reluctance to change is one of the top three concerning topics. I invite you to this discussion to talk about why people are reluctant to change, how you’ve worked helped people change, or, perhaps given up, and, hopefully, to share stories about your own experience overcoming reluctance. Our goal will be to move beyond being frustrated with “frozen” minds and middles, and get a sense for what to do about it…if anything. To start the discussion, I’ll start with a few stories and methods for getting people to change that I’ve encountered in the past few years.

Me!

In preparing for it, I typed in these notes:

Reluctance to change is one of the top concerns with executives and managers I talk with.

  • Frozen middle, frozen minds – often means “I don’t like what they’re (not) doing” – is that kind?
  • I want to talk about why people are reluctant to change; why you are; stories of success and failure in changing people’s minds, desires, and behavior/action.
  • Examples to start with:
    • Constant Planning, or, Analysis paralysis – they want to change, but think too much and don’t act. Fix: external problem/urgency, like (sadly) COVID, competition, dying/plateaued cash cow (not a very good motivator).
    • Fear of change – demonstrate that it works.
    • Seems like more work, or, won’t make their lives better, so why change? Show them that it make their lives better – automating things frees you up from tedium; automating for auditors saves them over-time; the new way can be more secure.
    • Changing job/responsibilities/identity. The DBA likes being the DBA, the network admin likes that – prove to them that it’s better.
    • Fear that they can’t change/learn the new thing – Coté doesn’t get around to learning Dutch, same fear. Related: embarrassment, e.g., Coté doesn’t buy from the butcher down the street cause he don’t speak Dutch (but, butcher doesn’t care – OF COURSE!) Fix: hard one, show success from peers.
  • Fixes:
    • General fix for all of this: build up success stories of their peers doing it.
    • Change motivations:
      • like money;
      • flow – removing friction (better quality of life and work-life);
      • raising individual profile with OSS work/fame;
      • autonomy;
      • closer to end-user to see value they provide.
    • Change structure. “Culture follows structure” – Larman’s Law – points out a common pattern/behavior. Once you know the behavior, you can start thinking about how to change/improve it.
      • “the organizational system (groups, teams, roles and responsibilities, hierarchies, career paths, policies, measurement and reward mechanisms, etc)”

You can also see me discuss these in one of my Tanzu Talk streams.

Link: Without a formal mandate

“In almost every case there are stakeholders who are moved by quantitative data (say the percentage of phone calls that could be avoided.) There are also other stakeholders who connect with qualitative human stories. The magic really happens when you offer both types of evidence. Telling the stories, and backing them up with data points for the cost or the impact of what is happening to people, this is evidence with impact. When you make it real for everyone, you can more effectively catalyze change.”

Also, a sort of case study of improving design in state government.
Original source: Without a formal mandate

Link: Without a formal mandate

“In almost every case there are stakeholders who are moved by quantitative data (say the percentage of phone calls that could be avoided.) There are also other stakeholders who connect with qualitative human stories. The magic really happens when you offer both types of evidence. Telling the stories, and backing them up with data points for the cost or the impact of what is happening to people, this is evidence with impact. When you make it real for everyone, you can more effectively catalyze change.”

Also, a sort of case study of improving design in state government.
Original source: Without a formal mandate

Over communicating with change management

What I found is that this change management was really valuable. It was valuable in a number of regards. The first part of change management, which was interesting, was developing the case for change. Not to presume—even though it would be very easy to presume—that the organization would understand why it was important to do this but really to sit down and drive a compelling case for change that explained why people should go out of their comfort zone and actually go along with us in what was going to be an important but very challenging journey. We did that. We sold that all the time. We had town hall after town hall to continue to remind people why we were going through this.

And then the broad concept of constantly touching in with people and communicating and, frankly, over-communicating and sometimes even communicating when you had very little, if anything, to communicate just so that people could see you and not begin to develop views that were inconsistent with where you were heading, was really valuable.

From Zero to Factory: Revolutionizing ‘Time-to-Value’

There’s plenty to like in here from this 2013 talk, tips and such. Also, see this more recent interview, in text, for example:

[Y]ou have to start with a position that all organizations (it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in) are going to be disrupted by highly agile, highly automated competitors who leverage technology to be the disruptive force in the sector. And, businesses clearly have a choice as to whether they are going to be the ones doing the disruption or whether they are going to be the ones having to respond to the disruption. But in either case, it depends on your ability to adapt, change and to compete. We live in a world that is increasingly digital and where technology is the lever through which much of that computation takes place. My advice to IT folks is that you’ve got to be able to have that conversation in the voice of business leaders – you’ve got to be able to articulate that reality in a language that can be understood. This is not a technology conversation, it’s a business and a competitive strategy conversation.

Also, see the slides.

Organizational change is hard

From a 2013 McKinsey survey on “going digitial.” The read is: you have to change to “culture” (business process and/or orginization) to take advantage of all that “software is eating the world stuff.”

Here’s their analysis:

Organizational issues can also hinder companies’ efforts to meet goals and see real impact from digital. As in 2012, executives most often say misaligned organizational structures are the biggest challenge their companies face in meeting digital goals. This is followed by insufficiently reworked business processes (to take advantage of the digital opportunities) and difficulty finding functional talent (such as data scientists or digital marketers). In contrast, a lack of infrastructure and absence of good data are less pressing than they were last year.

Good stuff.