Always clean your mess first

Change is what I do. This is what I get paid for. Usually it's not just

"you're at A, get to B"

but more like

"we think you should be somewhere there, go figure out for yourself, then carve a path towards a better place, but make sure we'll think it better too"

which I'm cool with, of course. Changes may be very, very different, but they have 1 thing in common - they very rarely go as smoothly as you'd wish for. Obviously there are tons of reasons: people's habits & anxieties (of getting our of comfort zone, of hidden motives, of not being capable to adapt, etc.), hidden (& poorly analyzed) complexities, conflicting interests, enterprise inertia (or other manifestation of scale), etc.

But even best & most motivated teams, who understand this particular change, commit to this particular change, even desire this change with all their hearts - may fail if they forget to secure their causative (motive) power FIRST. What may be the symptoms of the trouble ahead?

  1. Un-closed topics
  2. Parallel projects
  3. Unclear obligations
  4. Shady dependencies
  5. Still in forming / storming phase
  6. Lacking skills (for instance - incomplete transfer knowledge)
  7. High involvement in incident / problem management
  8. Morale / engagement / motivation problems

All the items in the list above have one thing in common - they de-focus your team & thin its ability to make a change efficiently, because they:

  • cause a lot of context switching
  • (too) frequently void the priorities
  • invalidate even short-term planning
  • give excuses for not keeping to any commitment

Always, always, ALWAYS before the take off make sure your runway is free of any shit like this. Don't ignore the obstacles just because "they've always been there" or "things are just like that here" & you're used to them. Start with the following:

  1. question dump processes, faulty tools, excessive bureaucracy
  2. look for the root cause of quality problems
  3. make sure that all people within team are both physically & mentally on-board & their direction is synced
  4. either close old topics or assign a set sub-team to deal with them in a set timeframe

Based in my past experience - if you can't get rid of ball & chain first, going for any ambitious, bold move like that is purely suicidal: it's not that you'll just not achieve the goal, what is more - they problems you've already have will escalate even worse, due to even more frustration, chaos & wasted energy.

Pic: © ra2 studio - Fotolia.com