“Shiny and new” isn’t always enough

shiny carWhy is it that we often forget this? Not everyone loves a new phone, new house, new restaurant. While there are positives that can come with each of those things, they also require us to change out habits. My new phone has new button placement, new sounds, different dimensions; and all of these are things that will mean I have to change. We all have areas where we are more or less resistant to change, and at some level we know that.

The thing about phones and houses is that we (usually) don’t keep the old one hanging around while we get used to the new one. We make the switch and deal with the consequences. I’m not convinced it is that we understand that life moves on and we need to adapt. Mostly, we do it because we can’t afford the consequences. Maintaining two phones or two homes is costly, both in terms of actual dollars and in terms of time.

These same rules and logic apply when thinking about processes or software. Maintaining multiple modes is costly. Sometimes it is necessary, in order to give people time to adapt and change their existing habits. It is also important to consider that the cost is largely borne by the person doing the maintenance. The people using the systems don’t always realize the same benefits, and so it is harder for them to rationalize a change.

How do you deal with this?

  1. BEFORE you change something, consider if both sides gain. Net-net works; net-zero is OK; net-loss doesn’t work.
  2. Make sure you clearly outline the new way of doing things.
  3. You might have to clearly outline it more than once. Remember – not everyone understands new things the first time.
  4. Have patience, and explain the benefits to the other person. This means you need to translate what’s in it for them (see #1).
  5. Provide a transition period, and let folks know that it is time-bound.
  6. STOP facilitating. After your transition period, if you continue to allow the old process, it is unlikely to die.
  7. Recognize your role/contribution to any frustrations or confusion that occurs.

Rarely is there a situation where everyone else is out to get you or where they are all truly lazy. Remember that “shiny and new” can be intimidating. And that we all get used to routine, and sometimes take that turn off the freeway on Saturday even when we aren’t planning to go into work.

Nothing groundbreaking in here, no citations or hat tips. Just good ole thinking out loud.

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