What is Organizational Process Debt?
When developed code is released as a deliverable that requires additional work, such as refactoring for future cost reductions, it is referred to as “Technical Debt“.
But what about Less Than Successful Business Processes?
Recently I had a discussion with a seasoned Agile veteran from Exit5 Ventures, who referred to the challenge in bringing Agile Methodologies to an organization:
“In my mind the key to successful change is
having a visionary leader who owns,
evangelize, and drives the change
by empowering the Agile team.
Too often that visionary leader
is missing resulting in failure”
– Don Kasner
A discussion about Organizational Process Debt with another seasoned professional revealed a dynamic in Organizations that has a dramatic effect on the acceptance of change:
“The current trend of the “Revolving Door”
syndrome for Chief Information Officers
creates a level of cynicism by the
organization’s team members.
With the life expectancy of CIOs being less
than eighteen months, any changes that the
“New CIO” wishes to bring with the new
position is met with skepticism and doubt.
A “Not Another Good Idea”
mentality is created.
Since all of the previous changes have
gone by the wayside, a “Just wait awhile
and this will go away as well”
attitude exists in the Organization
This has been deemed the
“Organizational Change Burnout Syndrome”
Managing Organizational Process Debt
The pain of failing Waterfall Development Methods creates the business motivation to try “That Agile Thing“.
The major challenge in bringing customized Agile development methods, based on the Agile Methodology, is managing what he referred to as “Organizational Process Debt“.
… Organizational Process Debt is a Paradigm
…… That Management Continues
… Even when the Old Development Ways
…… Is the Requirement for Change
When the Agile Methodology is chosen as an alternative to the traditional Waterfall based Software Development process a number of challenges come along for the ride:
The “Not Invented Here” Syndrome
A Lack of Information as to “Why Change is Important“
The Natural Grieving Process that Change can bring to the Agile Teams
The Normal Human Response to Resist Change, any Change
The “Not Invented Here” Syndrome
The decision to move to an Agile Methodology solution for Software Development must be made from the highest levels of management.
If fact, the only successful way that Agile can be implemented is by a commitment from an Organization to mandate the change from the highest levels of management.
This support is critical for success as the process change will be resisted by some people as change is always difficult.
When the change is perceived as a radical shift from Legacy Technology Solutions then the Technologists responsible for those solutions can feel that management believes that they should have known about these “Better Ways of Doing Things“.
This creates an “Atmosphere of Resistance” even when the justification for these changes are explained and “Officially” accepted.
… The “Not Invented Here” Syndrome Can Lead to Behavior
…… Seen as Destructive to the Recommended Changes
A Lack of Information as to “Why Change is Important“
Understanding Change Resistance in an Organization
People resist change even when change is good for them. This is a natural reaction to disrupting one’s “Comfort Zone”.
This concept has many clever sayings.
One of which is “The Devil You Know” concept.
This is the belief that a situation is bad but at least you know the pain.
The Organization has more than likely become used to the ramifications of the less than desirable situation.
The belief that “It Could Get Worse” causes resistance to change, any change at all.
… A Person Needs to Believe that the Change
…… Will Benefit Them in a Meaningful way
Provide to the Organization all Information Required
as to Why the Change is Important to Them
How to Help Organizations to Embrace Change
Organizational Change and the Grieving Process
Changes in one’s working environment can trigger the same grieving process that the loss of a family member or friend.
Hopefully the process of passing through the stages is less painful and more rabid than a family loss but the stages have been proven to be very similar.
It has been said:
“Grief is the process that allows us to let go of that which was and be ready for that which is to come.”
In order to “be ready for that which is to come” one must pass through these five stages of grief:
Denial – The Denial stage includes feelings of shock, numbness, and disbelief. When change first realized, some people have a hard time believing “this is really happening.”
Anger – Anger can be expressed in a variety of ways. Anger at your co-workers, towards family members, at God for letting this happen at the worst time. The anger can even be expressed towards yourself for letting you be put in this situation.
Bargaining – Taking actions that you believe will prevent or minimize the effect of the change will have on you personally. This can begin even before the change is formally introduced.
Depression – A level of depression can set in if one feels helpless. If you feel that you have no choice but to accept the change then a natural reaction is some form of sadness that could reach the level of depression.
Acceptance – The experience of “depression” is what leads to “acceptance”. Some people think that “acceptance” means we are “cured” or “all right” with the change. But this isn’t the case at all. Acceptance simply means we are ready to try the new changes and move on. This allows us to accommodate ourselves to this new way of doing things in a manageable fashion.
Understanding the “Five Stages of Grief” can help us realize our grief is “normal”. This helps us move though the feelings we experience.
Concepts adapted from The Five Stages of Grief originally by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and reproduced by Dr. Christina Hibbert
An Eight Step Process for Managing Organizational Change
Thirty years of research shows that 70% of all major change efforts in organizations fail.
This was documented by Dr. John Kotter, regarded by many as the authority on leadership and change.
Why do they fail?
Because organizations often do not take the holistic approach required to see the change through.
Not being able to see the “Big Picture” value that change will bring inhibits acceptance of the change by the Organization’s members.
An implementation of his 8-Step Process organizations can avoid most failures.
This process creates Organizations that are adept at change.
Without this ability to adapt continuously, organizations cannot thrive in today’s ever-changing business environment.
Following the 8-Step Process for Leading Change will help organizations succeed in an ever-changing world.
The 8-Step Process for Leading Change
Below is the process as defined by Dr Kotter. There are links to his concepts for additional reading.
Help others see the need for change and they will be convinced of the importance of acting immediately.
Plan for achievements that can easily be made visible, follow-through with those achievements and recognize and reward employees who were involved.
Use increased credibility to change systems, structures, and policies that don’t fit the vision, also hire, promote, and develop employees who can implement the vision, and finally reinvigorate the process with new projects, themes, and change agents.
The Agile Implementation Acceptance Process
When bringing a major change like Agile into an Organization it will inevitably encounter some degree of resistance due to “Organizational Process Debt”.
The growth stages of this learning curve has been documented as the Tuckman Model.
Dr Bruce Tuckman published his Forming Storming Norming Performing model in 1965.
The productivity of a team that is faced with the changes that an implementation of Agile exposes is similar to the following graph:
The explanation of why this graph happens in an Organization is described in the following diagram:
In Conclusion …
Organizational Process Debt can be managed only if the people are willing to understand the value of the changes and the normal process of change.
All of the issues detailed above will be in play to some degree. The understanding that the Tuckman model graph is normal and it should be allowed to play out.
The fear of change and the grieving process steps as also normal and should be allowed to play out.
Change is hard. People resist change. The understanding of these dynamics and the concepts above will help move the changes through the Organization with as little pain as possible.
Wisdom Pearl # 107 – Development Insanity
Applying the Same Failing Process
… Over and Over Again Expecting Different Results
…… Is Einstein’s Insanity Definition for Software Development