Here’s A Wild Idea:
Stop Thinking “Well, while we’re here…”

One of my advisory clients feels like she is butting her head against a brick wall.

And unfortunately the situation was entirely preventable.

You see, she has been handed the rollout of what should be a relatively simple update to their document management system. The initial WHY (which was the basis for this project’s funding) was as clear as day: “The previous version of our document management system is out of support and we need to shift to the newest version”.

…and yet, here they all are 3 months later with no runs on the board – stuck trying to figure out ‘WHY exactly are we doing this?’.

This is because someone with enough clout, somewhere along the line decided to pursue the thought: “well, while we’re here, let’s….”

And that thought turned the project from a scalpel (i.e., a precision shift from A to B) to a balloon (i.e., how big a bang can we make here) – and the team, project and customers are suffering accordingly. There are now discussions on ‘rationalisation of systems’, ‘centralisation of metadata standards’, ‘common file structures’, etc. etc.

Put simply – the project went from simple to highly complex. From easy to hard. From pain-light to pain-heavy.

The kicker being those additional ‘opportunities’ weren’t big enough to necessitate a business case of their own – yet, here they are polluting a project whose business case did stand up.

What is your project really trying to solve? – Are you over-complicating it by trying to make it all things to all people?

Something To Ponder:
Change Prevention Phantoms

I’ve spoken a number of times about (and dedicated a chapter of my book to) what I call the Value Equation. It’s simple, yet it underpins the success of every change, anywhere.

For anyone new to my approaches, here is the Value Equation in all its simplicity:

Reward – Pain = Decision

The principle that underpins it is that we humans don’t avoid pain. We endure and confront it – but only when the reward is worth it. When you roll out change, your staff aren’t only thinking ‘what’s in it for me?’, they are also asking ‘and what pain are you asking me to endure here?’ Reward and Pain are two components of the one equation, and will make or break your staff’s adoption, engagement and enthusiasm.

But here’s the thing for you to ponder this week.

When you roll out change – even once you identify the pain that your change is causing, you should also consider the change prevention phantoms within your organisation. The phantoms are those environmental factors that increase the everyday pain of your staff. Things like slow IT systems, distant or overly burdensome management, restrictive policies, cumbersome and repetitive processes, etc. Each of these stack against the success of your change, even if you have no control over them.

Despite these, your change needs to stack up.

Realism is the best approach here. Rewards should be clear, pain should be minimised, and phantoms acknowledged.

How many change prevention phantoms are affecting your change? – Are you properly considering them in your rollout plans?