Who is the Change For?

I changed my newsletter for this site, from not-reliable-quarterly to (with any luck) reliable monthly. Why? Because the lack of frequency made it more difficult for me to keep up with the newsletter. That’s not what I want as a writer. I am sure it’s not what you want as a reader. I’ll post the newsletters on or about the 10th of the month, starting next month.

I made the change for me and for my newsletter subscribers. I want to provide value more often. I receive the value when I write about adaptability. You receive the value when I send you something once a month. Especially if I’m reliable about it.

Two sites I use a lot just changed their user interface. I am sure that they think the changes are a feature. I can barely use the sites any longer.

On one of the sites, they asked for feedback. I provided it. (I know, you are so surprised!) I explained how the features I used are many more clicks away, how the colors do not enhance the usability, and how they have managed to hide the features I use most often.

The person who started the thread defended their choices. In effect, she told me I was wrong for wanting what I wanted.

That’s when I realized the changes were not for the site’s users. The changes were for the people who run the site. A key insight.

I haven’t bothered telling the other site how bad their new user interface is. The site hasn’t been for the users for a long time. It’s for advertisers and job seekers.

If you are changing something, consider who the change is for. Here are some questions you might find helpful:

  • Who benefits from the change?
  • Who loses something from the change?
  • Of those people, who is most important to you? You might decide that the people who benefit are most important to you. If not, this question might change your proposed change(s).
  • How will this change affect our status?
  • What does success look like?
  • How will we measure success?

You might want to read about project success where I suggest context-free questions in What Does Success Look Like?

Here’s one of the problems I see a lot in projects. Often, the people asking for the change(s) do not discuss what success looks like or how to measure it. Without measuring success, you are trying, not experimenting. I find I need to experiment more—with measurable data—rather than try something.

I’m certainly not an opponent of change. And, I have found that thinking about when and what to change, and how I measure it is a better idea than going ahead with the change.

That is the question this week: Who is the change for?

2 thoughts on “Who is the Change For?”

  1. Great article as usual, Johanna! And I agree with you that the common understanding that people resist change is just plain wrong. People don’t resist change – actually, we are very good in accomodating to it and even starting it. What we do resist is foolish ideas that we don’t believe, don’t see any value in. So I believe the question you are asking is a necessary one. If we want a change to happen, who for? Why should it be important to the people affected? Why should they welcome it?

    1. Tom, thanks so much. Glad you like it.

      I like the way you frame this as a question of value. (I actually say that if you want to use agile, say the business reasons, the value, in one of my books in progress. I forgot to say that in the post :-)

      When we see value, even if we aren’t happy with a change, we will manage to it.

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