Thursday, March 15, 2012

Change is Hard... Change is Easy

This week, I listened to a talk by Ryan Martens, the CTO of Rally, and Rachel Weston, a certified Scrum Trainer. They were pitching a new element of Rally services. But that’s really beside the point. The discussion that really piqued my interest was when they started talking about change. I’ve been touting that changing to agile processes from traditional waterfall is hard work. There is a paradigm shift that has to happen. Old habits have to be broken. And Ryan and Rachel agreed with me on this point – change is hard.

Then they disagreed with me – change is easy.

Huh. It appears that both statements are true. It just depends on the motivator that’s causing the change.

When the change is something that you aren’t expecting, there can be a period of adjustment (sudden change in job situation, forced move to a new city, change in normal routine). Life seems grayer, duller, more frustrating.

But when you really want the change (improved job situation, better house, ability to add on something that you’ve always wanted to do), the change is like a breath of fresh air. Everything seems lighter, brighter, and more enjoyable.

What’s the reason for the shifting perspective? When you can see the end goal, when you can understand what makes this change good, the transition becomes easy.

Agile processes can bring about empowerment to the team, quicker response to the customer, less overhead, great company responsiveness, more discussion and dialogue, and as a side effect, a more fun-filled work environment. Even though the transition can be tough, keeping these end results in mind can make the process seem less dreary.

My youngest son has been struggling in his freshman year at high school. There’s more homework, the school is bigger, the teachers don’t scaffold quite as much. But there was a subtle shift recently. We started talking about his dreams and plans for college and beyond. Engineering is a tough field, requiring a rigorous college program, which in turn requires good grades in high school. My son made the connection between the change he’s facing now, and his long-term goals and dreams. It’s still a bit of a struggle to remember all the homework, but that focus, that vision, is keeping him on track.

Yup, change is hard, and change is easy. What motivates you to make it easy?

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