Weekly Braindump #47

Analogue Preservation and Change Management Cynicism

Hello! Here’s the 47th installment of what I’ve been doing, reading and listening to. Only marginally late this time around, but at least I’m remaining consistent. 🙂

I’ve been working on…

I wrote a thing about doing the opposite of digital transformation which appeared to resonate with a lot of people. Having spent a good deal of time thinking about how to enable transformation, it was quite good fun to flip to the ‘dark side’ and consider how it could be stopped at all costs. In doing so you begin to see how you might unintentionally hamper your own transformation efforts. And I suppose it really underlines that we have to commit if we want to make transformation happen because the alternative is the giving into the invisible pull toward behaviours that don’t support it.

What else?

We had a Turn Your Ship Around meetup. Only four of us present this time, but we had a really great chat discussing what policy or procedure we could change to push authority closer to information. As an organisation that tends to avoid bureaucracy, this actually turned out to be quite tricky. Where there’s risk we have policies and procedures written up. But for things that are less risky (and therefore easier to change & experiment with) the way we do things is mostly informally embedded in teams. Perhaps that’s both a pro (easier to change because it’s not written down) and a con (harder to change because it’s not written down and is actually cultural).

We also talked about the perception of most change programs as fads. Sometimes is it best not to herald a new change initiative with fanfare and just begin methodically experimenting with small recoverable tests? Or do people need the larger vision to understand why change is happening? I think we settled on.. it depends!

I get why people roll their eyes when a new management technique is trotted out. Lord knows there are some charlatans making a tidy living out of dubious change management practices that rightly induce cynicism. But I also understand that we can’t stop trying to tinker with the underlying mechanics of the organisation. Change is happening and we need to respond to it.. constantly.

I’ve been thinking that mostly change programs fail due to discomfort. The status-quo exists because it’s comfortable for the majority. When you start disturbing that balance, people are going to start feeling discomfort because things start getting unfamiliar. So I suppose the question is.. how do you encourage people to positively run towards discomfort (until it’s comfortable)? It definitely feels like there’s an element of psychological safety here.

What else?

I did lots of not very exciting but much needed things. I did some digging through Helpdesk tickets. Aced a few lingering ‘not very urgent but very important’ issues. I spent some time trying to untangle some integration issues between three systems (once again I angrily shake my fists because this would be a lot easier if it wasn’t prohibitively expensive to ask each system vendor to integrate properly with the others)

What else?

I got a chance to sit with one of our housing officers and work through some system problems. Megan often describes herself as not being ‘techie’ but she regularly comes up with really insightful points where things could be designed better. Often I’m blind to these things because I just instinctively work around them. A good reminder that ‘you are not your users’.

I’ve been reading…

I’ve been watching / listening to…

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