software solutions / project leadership / agile coaching and training

Change requires problems and solutions

Posted on July 27, 2012

If you want to change something in your organization, that must mean that there is some problem that needs to be fixed and a solution to fix the problem. That’s obvious, right?

Maybe it’s obvious to you. But is it obvious to others?

If other people on the team don’t see that there’s a problem or if they’re OK with the status quo, it’s going to be very difficult to get them to change. For example, let’s say that your team does not do automated testing and you want to get developers to start writing unit tests. The problem is that you have lots of bugs and it’s scary when you have to refactor the code.

But wait a minute, do other people think it’s a problem? More than that, do they think that your solution will be better than the status quo? That’s a completely different question! Maybe the developers on the team have all been getting good reviews from their manager. They might not like the bugs and the scary refactoring, but they might not think that introducing TDD will fix the problem, or they might think that it’ll be more work to learn TDD than just deal with the code without tests.

You need them to both see the problem and buy into the solution (man, this is getting hard). So maybe you go and write unit tests around some part of the system. Then later when another developer needs to change the code, you show them how easy it is to run the tests and see that the code is still working. Now maybe they’re more open to your solution because they can see the benefits of it and see that maybe it won’t be as hard to implement as they previously thought.

Until you can get people to see that there is a problem and that your solution is viable, you’re probably not going to have a lot of success getting them to change.

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I have over 10 years of software development experience on several different platforms (mostly Ruby and .NET). I recognize that software is expensive, so I'm always trying to find ways to speed up the software development process, but at the same time remembering that high quality is essential to building software that stands the test of time.
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