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18 Jan

The change project’s most treacherous word

Datum: 2012-01-18 10:15

There is a word which is some­times deceiv­ing­ly tempt­ing to use. 

There we are at the man­age­ment con­fer­ence we have every six months to set the course for the six months to come. 

It is at the end of the day and we are quite drained after a full day of dis­cus­sions. We have spo­ken of what weak­ness­es the busi­ness needs to work on improv­ing and we have con­clud­ed that we need to:

  • Keep bet­ter track of how the projects progress
  • Lis­ten and tune in more to what is hap­pen­ing in the market
  • Raise the ser­vice-lev­el towards our customers
  • Syn­chro­nize and check up on our progress more frequently
  • Mea­sure our deliv­er­ance-qual­i­ty more accurately
  • … and take oth­er sim­i­lar steps

Beware, don’t say it!

So, when are we going to do it? And how?”, says the per­son who hap­pens to be hold­ing the white­board-mark­er at the moment.

It is now the word emerges, as a beck­on­ing temp­ta­tion. We feel how hun­gry and exhaust­ed we are. Should we set anoth­er dead­line? Can we keep track of and han­dle anoth­er project with a due-date in the next com­ing months? It would be won­der­ful to just wrap things up and call it a day. 

No, we can­not resist it. We utter the words. 

We will do it continuously.”

Ah, that felt good, we have final­ly made some kind of deci­sion. Now, let’s go to dinner. 

I know what it is like, but I have seen too many great ini­tia­tives come to noth­ing due to that we decid­ed to do them con­tin­u­ous­ly”. The word is a true hon­ey-trap. It sounds as if it means always” or fre­quent­ly”, and when we use it we appear ener­getic, deci­sive and com­mit­ted. But in real­i­ty it is more often than not equiv­a­lent to nev­er”.

Anoth­er some­thing to remember

Deter­min­ing that we will start to do some­thing in an ongo­ing man­ner, con­tin­u­ous­ly”, requires us to con­stant­ly remem­ber to do what ever it is we want to do con­tin­u­ous­ly, in addi­tion to all the oth­er things we need to remem­ber on a dai­ly basis. Speak­ing for myself, I have enough things on my mind as it is. I am in no need for more things to keep track of. And actu­al­ly, I would pre­fer not hav­ing to keep things on my mind at all, but rather have des­ig­nat­ed tools and places for this pur­pose, which are sta­ble and safe from any dig­i­tal failure. 

So the next time you hear a col­league say­ing let’s do it con­tin­u­ous­ly” or when you are about to utter the word your­self, beware of the pos­si­ble ram­i­fi­ca­tions and think again. 

Try doing this instead

  • If you wish to accom­plish a change of some kind, clear­ly define con­crete activ­i­ties, events or tasks which you can assign dead­lines to (as well as del­e­gate to some­one so that they get done).
  • If you want to do things dif­fer­ent­ly from now on (result­ing in high­er qual­i­ty, more dia­logue between man­age­ment and project-groups, or being more tuned in to the mar­ket), adjust your dai­ly pro­ce­dures so that they from now on also con­tain that which you wish to do differently.

So, make the new method of work­ing into the stan­dard way, into what you usu­al­ly do. One way of doing this is to sketch out what the process looks like today as well as what you wish to add to the cur­rent pic­ture, try the new ver­sion out, eval­u­ate and then refine. 

Get more done

If you use the word con­tin­u­ous­ly” with greater cau­tion when you are plan­ning ini­tia­tives for change, the num­ber of imple­ment­ed changes will be far greater than they cur­rent­ly are. The busi­ness you are work­ing in will grow and devel­op faster, and you will feel a greater sense of sat­is­fac­tion over the more promi­nent results you accom­plish together. 

What is your way?

How do you make sure what you decide on doing actu­al­ly gets done? A pen­ny for your thoughs…