A Double Standard Is No Standard At All!
If there's one thing guaranteed to make me mad in the workplace it's the failure of people to follow internal standards or guidelines for internal projects. In the IT world, this appears to be the normal state of affairs. I've lost count of the number of internal initiatives that I've been involved with which have no requirements (documented or not), no clear objectives, no stated business benefit,
What Exactly Are Change Agents and Change Management?
I've spent a large proportion of the last thirty years involved in or running organisational, business and software process improvement initiatives. It was probably two or three years before I realised that I was actually managing change. Back in the late 1980's, business change was far from the talking point it is these days - at least not in my circles (and most definitely not in my manager's circles).
The Change Centre
I read an article a couple of days ago called The Change Habitat: Why 70% of Change Managers Are Wrong by Jurgen Appelo. I’d need a lot of convincing before accepting much that was written in the article, but it got me thinking about a problem I’ve seen in many organisations struggling to succeed with their change initiatives. A common denominator in many organisations where there is a history
Blueprints for Success or Recipes for Disaster?
I've seen a few articles recently about using 'blueprints' for the successful implementation of organisational change, especially in the IT industry. I rarely read beyond the title because I believe there is a fundamental problem in the concept of using a blueprint for anything other than what the original term designated, namely: A blueprint is a reproduction of a technical drawing,
Orchestrated Knowledge - not really a book review!
I'm not big on technical book reviews, not reading them and definitely not writing them. And I'm not really going to start now, because in my opinion, technical books tend to be either useful or not, and my reviews won't add to their usefulness or lack thereof. However, I do feel quite happy recommending books, articles and other useful sources of well thought out argument in pursuance of understanding
You Don't Know What You've Got 'Till It's Gone
"Don't it always seem to go That you don't know what you've got Till it's gone " are lines from the 1970 Joni Mitchell song "Big Yellow Taxi" which was an early reflection of environmental blots on the landscape. Those lines work on so many levels from reminiscing about personal relationships, missed opportunities and regrets about leaving situations or places. But it struck me that they
5 Facets of Change - Revisited
[I first wrote about the 5 Facets of Change in October 2009 and followed up later in that month with some updates to the model. The two posts have been among the most popular and well received, but it occurred to me that I have never published the combined posts and explained the model in its entirety. So this post rectifies that oversight and includes my most recent thinking. I'm intending to publish
Thinking Big Is Brilliant But...
I read a couple of interesting posts this week. The first was Are We Too Focused On Incremental Improvement by Bill Fox and the second was You Have To Think Anyway, So Why Not Think Big by Karen Rutter. They are both interesting posts in their own right and well worth a read. Bill's post reminded me of my own Continuous Tinkering Is Not Continuous Improvement from a few years ago.
Change Debt - No Second Chances
In the past few years ‘Technical debt’ has become a fairly hot topic. Using the description from Wikipedia, ‘Technical debt’ is a metaphor referring to the eventual consequences of poor system design, architecture or development within a codebase. The debt can be thought of as work that needs to be done before a particular job can be considered complete or proper. If the debt is not repaid,
Bring Purpose and Value Back to Project Reviews
In the past 30 years I’ve attended hundreds upon hundreds of project status reviews in various capacities - sometimes as the project manager (‘victim’), more often as a general stakeholder (‘muzzled bystander’) and on a few occasions as a review lead (‘master inquisitor’). I can’t honestly remember a single instance where the review has actually proved directly useful to anyone involved.
Unifying Technical Project Management with Management of Change
One of the things that successful leaders of improvement initiatives understand is that at least 80% of the effort is about managing change. It is often something that their sponsors and supervisors also understand. So, when you pick up a book about process improvement, you’ll generally find extensive information about understanding the psychology of change, managing resistance, winning hearts and
Trying to "Implement" Lean? - Think Again!
This weekend, I spent a couple of hours reading Henrik Kniberg’s book “Lean from the Trenches - Managing Large Scale Projects with Kanban”. The book relates the author’s experience using Kanban on a large project for the Swedish national police authority. I always enjoy these kinds of true life experiences, but this one had some personal resonance for me because of my experience with Lean and
More Thoughts On the Value Management Office
In my previous post I outlined a proposal for a Value Management Office (VMO) to oversee many of the essential business activities needed in any reasonably sized organisation but which perhaps add no or little direct value to the customer. In lean terminology this is considered as Type I Muda. I've spent a lot of time in organisations which obsess about things that don't add any value to the customer.
7 Deadly Sins of Process Improvement/Change - #7 Extravagance
My final deadliest sin is that of extravagance. Extravagance is not confined to process improvement, but for many years was something of a feature of the IT industry. Extravagance has two meanings, and both are relevant in this post. The first definition refers to the lack of restraint in spending money or use of resources. The second refers to the excessive use of elaborateness in style, speech or
7 Deadly Sins of Process Improvement/Change - #6 Ignorance
My penultimate deadly sin is that of Ignorance. Ignorance is purely and simply a lack of knowledge, information or understanding. Ignorance itself is not the deadly sin as clearly we are all ignorant about certain (most?) subjects. The sin is in failing to do something about rectifying your own or other's ignorance when it matters, or in pretending that you know about matters which, in reality, you
7 Deadly Sins of Process Improvement/Change - #5 Carelessness
At number five on my list of deadly sins we have Carelessness, where a person or group fails to give enough attention to avoiding errors and mistakes. I deliberately chose to include carelessness in addition to ineptitude because I’d argue that people with good knowledge and understanding who have done their planning and preparation can still be careless and make clumsy and costly errors as a result.
7 Deadly Sins of Process Improvement/Change - #4 Impatience
Whilst sin number two in my list is Inertia, sin number four is almost the opposite; Impatience, the state of restless eagerness. Typically this is a management problem but it can also stem from within a change team, or individuals caught up in the excitement of a change, or even in desperation for a change to the existing status quo. I have seen many change programmes wound down or cancelled
7 Deadly Sins of Process Improvement/Change - #3 Ineptitude
People make mistakes. Apparently it’s what makes us human, although it most certainly isn’t a purely human trait, as mistakes take place in the animal world every time a predator catches its prey. What I mean by ineptitude in this context is either actively making clumsy, silly, avoidable mistakes, or forcing others to do so through your actions. There’s quite a close tie-in to our opening sin
7 Deadly Sins of Process Improvement/Change - #2 Inertia
Continuing on the theme of 7 Deadly Sin of Process Improvement and Change, my second deadly sin is Inertia, the tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged. Inertia may be caused by a number of things including fear, ignorance, lack of confidence, uncertainty but it has the same effects regardless of the cause. At best, inertia will lead to nothing happening at all - a kind of nothing ventured, nothing
7 Deadly Sins of Process Improvement/Change - #1 Arrogance
Just over three years ago I posted an article on this blog called 7 Deadly Sins of Process Improvement (or Change Management). It recently dawned on me that, although I said I would expand on the 'sins' I mentioned in the original post, I never got around to it, so I'm now trying to make amends for that oversight! The first of my deadly sins is arrogance. Arrogance is defined as “having or revealing
The Sleepwalkers Have Taken Over the Asylum
There's an English Bookshop on the main shopping street in the centre of Zurich. It's quintessentially English and apart from books you can purchase such goodies as Marmite and Coleman's English Mustard. I always wander in to browse whenever I'm in town with a few minutes to spare even though the prices here are astronomical so I have to demonstrate a huge amount of self-constraint. There isn't a great
7 Deadly Sins of Process Improvement (or Change Management)
No-one ever said that Process Improvement was easy but there’s no reason why we have to make quite so hard. By understanding some basic principles it is possible to give ourselves a fighting chance of success. Gerald Weinberg famously said: “No matter what the problem is, it's always a people problem”, so it might make a bit of sense to start looking at some fundamental people problems which
5 Facets of Change - Update
I've now made the changes to the 5 Facets of Change tool and this entry provides a quick summary of the modifications. I felt this was better than repeating much of the previous material. I've created a Quicktime movie of an Apple Keynote presentation which contains all the details, and this can be downloaded from my website. The central topic is now called Define the Change, and the five facets
5 Facets of Change - A Tool for new Change Agents
In this blog entry, as promised, I'm going to run through a simple tool that will help newcomers to Change Management, and should be useful for seasoned practitioners. Only a brief summary is shown here - more information will be available on my website (www.allygill.co.uk)in the next few days. This is still a work in progress and may be subject to change. Specifically, I'm looking to simplify the
Sustainable Change Requires Preparation
Last time I wrote about a simple change lifecycle with a start, middle and end, and I focused attention to the end phase. That may seem a topsy turvy way of looking at things, but the reality is that if we don't think about the end goal at the start, we are going to have serious problems throughout the change cycle. It is generally accepted that change initiatives should be managed as projects. This
Knowing When Enough is Enough
In an increasingly unstable world, where corporations and individuals are being subjected to manifest and constant change it's frustrating to realise that there are still very few people who understand enough about the management of change to enable change programmes to have the best chance of succeeding. Often, even the simplest concepts are ignored. Given that change generally occurs over a period
Leave "Stealth Mode" to the spy planes
Over the years I've heard numerous references to "Process Improvement by Stealth". The New Oxford American Dictionary defines stealth as "cautious and surreptitious action or movement". Neither cautious or surreptitious are words that should be associated with process improvement or indeed any change initiative where the first three laws for success are Communicate, Communicate and Communicate. Stealth
Getting the Right Change Leaders
It’s not easy leading and managing Change Programmes. In fact it’s bloody hard, because ultimately you need to aim to please all of the people all of the time. An executive who initiates and sponsors a change programme needs to look very carefully at the person they choose as their key change agent - selecting the wrong individual will doom the programme from its outset. In software process improvement