Monday, October 02, 2006

Change slow in coming.

It sometimes seems as if change only happens when a major crisis occurs. However, I think more often a mental attitude adjustment which coincidentally corresponds to a major crisis, is the actual cause of the change.

For example. I've been trying for quite some time to get people that I work with to use a Wiki to document things. I am in love with the Wiki. It's so open and honest. If I make a mistake in my documentation, it can quickly be corrected by someone who knows better, or learns better. I've been using is for over a year. That's about the time at which I realized that everything should be documented, everywhere. I started blogging about a month after I started using the wiki at work. It's taken over a year to get my fellow employees to start documenting also. The thing that held them back was twofold. First, all people resist change. Second, telling that resisting change makes them suck will not help them change.

Ok, on the second one I didn't specifically ever say it like that, but the meaning can often come across when not intended. I would tell people that they could make it so much easier on someone else if they would just add some documentation out there. For the cost of a few minutes or an hour one time, you can say something that's out there and able to be accessed by everyone forever. This is the greatest thing EVER!!!! This did not work. Granted, maybe the change didn't come solely from my own change in encouragement. There was a policy change at work that all of the sudden helped people see the same thing that I had been saying.

It started with me saying. If someone else spends a few minutes documenting, it can help you out dramatically when you need to do that. This was not enough. It was good, it was the right kind of change in phrasing, but it was not enough. At the same time, work changed their policy. Whomever was on production support had to do everything possible to resolve the problem before involving someone that is working on new development. At first, almost nobody knew about any other system. So when person A had a problem come in, a lot of research had to be done to find a resolution. It was not documented anywhere, it was in person Cs head. Finally person A would ask person C and get the answer. The real bonus came when I was person A. I documented a bunch of solutions on the wiki. The next person A saw the documentation and was amazed (a little self flattery here). Suddenly the other people were able to see the real benefit to themselves. It was no longer an imaginary possible future benefit, but something that was tangible and could be used right now.

I am still standing here shouting from the cube-tops. Use the wiki. Document anything that you had to learn to do this, it will be something that someone else has to learn in the future. If you are each doing it then you will each benefit. The full support for the additional documentation is not there yet. Maybe it will require another change in department policy. Maybe I'll be able to win over just one or two more people and then it will snowball. A leader is only a leader if others follow. It doesn't even make him a leader to be doing the right thing. If nobody is following, he's just doing the right thing alone.

Through most of my life I've thought that change only happened in a "Change or Die" type of situation. After a heart attack a previously lazy lifestyle is thrown away and replaced with a healthy active lifestyle type of thing. That's wrong. Over the past several years I've seen too many instances where a wake-up call and slap in the face came, and yet the receiver didn't do anything. Alcoholics who hurt themselves and others, but refuse to go to AA. People who have bipass surgery and contniue to behave exactly as they have before. Diabetics who are told that they will not only have a shortened life, but could have body parts amputated; they still do nothing. I'm not sure why this would be. Are we just so convinced we are invincible that we choose not to change? Are we just stuck in the mindset that, "If I'm a live I'm going to live like I want"? Why don't these people see that changing their habits does not mean that they are living less of a life, in many cases they could be livin more of a life if they changed. I don't know any of the answers to my questions. I have asked a lot and now sit and wonder how it is that we as a race can become more open to change. Is there a teacher that can lead us into an open-minded lifestyle?

I I found this great article on the psychology of change, I hope you enjoy it. I found it strange that after I started this post I searched for articles, and potentially a solution., that this article seemed in tune with some of my own thinking. This was by far the best article I found. There doesn't appear to be enough solutions in this area.

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