By Sunil Srivastava
One of the most complex challenges facing software engineering teams today is the implementation of positive change that lasts - in other words, implementing change that sticks. When senior leadership of software engineering organizations discuss strategy, there is usually a lot of talk about managing change effectively and yet most organizations continue to fail in implementing sticky change.
Why Change Fails?
The reason sticky change is hard to maintain for most organizations is misdirected efforts. Senior managers seem to focus on realigning organizational structures and processes when they decide change is needed. In most cases, when change is discussed in executive meetings as a need, managers start thinking in the direction of team structures and protocols to show progressive change. Instead of assessing employee behaviors and organizational culture, they focus on changing processes to demonstrate change. However, the problem often goes deeper than just process change that and so change initiatives often don’t stick.
Sticky Change is Not Forced
Sticky change is change that is accepted by people who are subjected to it. Without their consent, it will only be a set of forced processes that they may continue to follow but with no interest.
What is more, this approach is counter-productive. Forcing change is bad for a number of reasons, including the fact that it makes employees feel trapped, which leads to distrust toward management and the organization as a whole.
To make teams implement lasting change, cultural practices in the organization should be changed strategically over time with adequate communication through horizontal and vertical channels.
Software teams can fail for a number of reasons, some of which include:
Change that matters is change that sticks.
Being able to transition software teams towards being more agile and delivering projects faster is something that is on the top of the agenda of almost very leader in the software industry. With time, leaders are realizing that they need to develop strategies and processes that will make change sticky and deliver the desired success and growth.
Communication and engaging the entire organization in the challenge of implementing change is critical to “sticky change”. Team members need to be engaged and made aware that they are integral to the solution that is being developed and it’s adoption is critical to its success. Team members priorities, values and goals should be aligned with those of the organization, and only then will the recommended changes be adopted & practiced by team members. Only in such a scenario will the change stick but that will take time and effort. Early failure should be anticipated and mitigation activities planned.
Remember that effective positive “sticky change” is a process and will take time.