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Are you too busy to improve?


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Continuous Improvement – Part 2 – Why not?

Are you too busy to improve?

In case you missed Part 1, don’t forget to read the article!

Continuous improvement seems obvious to consider, why doesn’t everyone do this all the time?

Continuous improvement is great and should be practiced on a regular basis, but it does come with its set of large challenges:

Improvement means change

The natural tendency around change is to be reluctant.

People are scared of the unknown and this adds stress to their daily lives. If for example they are handed a completely new software to use every day compared to the old one they mastered, they may become worried they won’t master the new one, or that they won’t be able to be as efficient.

It’s also important to note that people love their routine, some more than others, and changing that can bring frustration from team members.

It requires time and it’s secondary

When it comes to prioritizing between a client project against an internal project of adopting a new process, the client project will always come first as it is considered more important.

This constraints continuous improvement a lot because it generally becomes the thing we’ll do “when we have time” and this can be very rare or even nonexistent.

It’s a long-term view rather than a short-term view

People often go for the instant gratification, and the long-term benefit is often put aside. Continuous improvement is always working more now to benefit soon or much later.

For example, if installing a new project management tool means lots hours of work transferring projects to the new tool, more hours to train people to use it, not mention the initial learning curve where everyone will be less efficient and will need constant support, this can mean 50 hours of work.

If you look at it short-term, it will look like we just spent 50 hours only to be slower. Crazy, right?

If you look at it from a long-term point of view, once everyone is ramped-up, every project going forward will benefit from the added efficiency and will be more on budget. This means you could get back your 50 hours in 2-3 projects for example, and every additional project would be even more benefit again and again.

It’s hard to know where to start

Since everything can be improved all the time, people don’t know where to start, and this infinite number of choices can make people freeze and avoid the situation completely.

No power

You may be someone with no authority inside a team, so even if you want to bring improvement, it doesn’t mean it will accepted nor that you will be able to secure the resources needed to make the change.

It can also be more challenging to have the change be adopted by everyone since they might not listen to you.

 

It’s a constant fight

Continuous improvement is challenging, and the bigger the improvement or the team, the bigger the challenge. You often feel like you have to fight your way through change, whether to create the change or to maintain it. All of this makes continuous improvement hard to adopt, but who said the best things in life were the easiest?

 

Stay tuned for part 3!


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4 tips to reduce reluctance with change

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Source: xenia

Changes are part of life, we live them in our personal life, and in our professional life. If you work in IT, changes are ongoing, and if you don’t adapt quickly, you fall behind within months. Unfortunately, the human nature is to be reluctant to changes, so here are a few tips that will hopefully help you make changes happen:

1. Make it simple for them

No matter the change, whether it’s a new technology, a new process, a new methodology, etc., the steeper the learning curve, the fewer people will be onboard.

So how can you make it simpler? There are a couple of ways:

  • Build tutorials: Any guide whatsoever will simplify the learning curve. It can be very simple to more elaborate depending of the size of the change. Avoid anything long or boring. Go with quick and easy, like cheatsheets, or something interactive.
  • Available help: Let people know that you (or someone else) is available to help them. Obviously, make sure it’s true, and appropriate help is given when needed.
  • Plan the change: If the change is structured and iterative, people will be introduced step-by-step to the change instead of forced into all at once. That will greatly reduce the fact that people are generally scared of changes since it’s not moving too fast.

2. Show how it’s helping THEM

This tip may not apply for all the changes we want to execute, but amongst other types of changes, let’s say you would want to change a tool that a team uses for projects: The initial reaction would be that it’s either “just another tool added with the others” or “why are we doing this?” or something to that effect.

You want to make sure that people are aware of how the changes are good for THEM, not you or management, THEM. In my example above, you could tell them it’s going to make their overall work easier by having a faster tool, or that this tool has a great set of notifications that will greatly reduce the number of things forgotten.

By focusing on that when you brief the others, they will also focus on that while they are juggling their emotions towards the change. As they fight the reluctance, they can remind themselves how it’s helping them, and it will reduce complaining.

3. Ask “why?”

This tip can be applied once reluctance is being detected. It’s easy to insist on something, or even to force it on people, but by simply asking why they are reluctant, you may find out that it’s because of silly reasons, or justified ones. Once that is identified, you can work towards eliminating those reasons. You may even find out that your idea is not as good as you thought and it’s you who may have to change!

By asking why, you’ll receive valuable feedback as long as it’s constructive, which is always something you want to encourage inside your team.

4. Don’t give up

Stay positive, and keep it up. Don’t quit at the first “no” that is thrown at you. If one strategy doesn’t work, try another approach. Only stop once justified reasons have come up, then adjust yourself, and try something else!

In conclusion

Changes everywhere; some like them, some hate them, and some make them happen. No matter what, there will always be reluctance, so do your best to fight it.

Share your tips and stories! I’m certain a lot of you are facing challenges with changes inside your teams.