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Are you asking team members or maybe your entire company to change the way some aspect of software development is done? Today I’d like to share why software development change initiatives fail all too often.

The first thing people are most familiar with around a change is the communication. This can often happen in a meeting where leadership or a project manager states “what” the change is. Though this is a necessary part of the process, it’s bare minimum.

The second thing people are familiar with is “how” the change occurs. What training, documentation, and other materials are needed to equip people with the tools or assets they need to make the process change?

Next, you’re probably familiar with how interested most teams and companies are in governance. That is, how do we know how many people are making the change, and how successfully? Though it’s important when doing software development that change initiatives are accompanies by measurable goals or metrics, the biggest piece of the puzzle still needs to be tackled.

To have the highest chance of a successful change, we must answer the question “what’s in it for me”? But from the perspective of each INDIVIDUAL we’re asking to make a process change or a tool or technology change. Before we can do that, we need to know people on a personal level.

And to do that requires spending TIME with people and getting to know their unique circumstances, history, and life struggles and goals.

When asking someone to make a change that in no way benefits them, often the best chance of success is to motivate them with some sort of reward. It’s a companies way of saying “we’re sorry you need to do extra work or work differently, so here’s something we want to share to show how we take into consideration to burden this adds to your workload”.

In all other cases, understanding each person’s motivation, and what outcomes they might want to be supportive of a software development change initiative, is most often the key, CRITICAL factor in the success or failure of widespread adoption. People change most successfully when the reason for the change is not just communicated, not just understood, but aligned with their own goals!