What Triggers You to Change Your Approach or Trusted Solution?

New Way Old WayI recently gave a talk about how we can rethink our roadmaps and how to portray them. (See the Roadmap Personas deck if you want to see what I said.) One of the audience members asked what tool I recommended.

I said I didn’t recommend any tool—not yet—because I’d offered alternative ways to create the various roadmaps. Until the audience member experimented with the people who want to see the roadmap, I didn’t have a suggestion. Even then, I suggested stickies or virtual stickies, or even a spreadsheet. That’s because I like low-tech tools that don’t require anyone to do a lot of hand-holding with the tool.

Tools should be easy to use and make everyone’s lives easier. If not, then don’t use the tool. Instead, decide how you want to work and then see what the various tools can offer you. (I have yet to see a roadmap tool I like, but I haven’t seen all of them.)

But I thought this person’s dilemma was fascinating. I bet their organization uses tools for everything. (Think Jira for “tickets” and backlogs.) That means that unless they use a tool for explaining status or prediction, no one believes their work.

However, tools reflect some of the data we have, not the data we need for predicting the future. And tools can warp our thinking:

  • People believe the information in the tool, even though a person had to create the data that the tool supposedly explains. (See Schedule Game #11: The Schedule Tool Is Always Right.)
  • The tool will make our lives easier. It might—but probably not for the people who have to use the tool.
  • The tool will let us predict, way out into the future, what will occur.

Tools can create wishful thinking. I take that as a trigger to change.

What Triggers You to Consider Changing Your Approach or Trusted Solutions?

I already said that wishful thinking means it’s time for me to reconsider how I approach problems or solve them. Here are some other triggers I’ve seen:

  • When my (our) reality does not match my (our) prediction. (See Tip 2: See Your Reality.) Reality always wins. We might not like it, but it wins.
  • When we can’t discuss something. (See CAL Tip 9: Discuss the Un-Discussable.) The more we can’t discuss something, the more power that thing has over us.
  • When trusting the process doesn’t work. (See CAL Tip #11: Focus On Results For Change.) Many of my approaches work for me—until they don’t. I used to write to baroque music. Now I write to rain. I changed because I was too focused on the music, not my words.

I’m describing Foreign Elements as triggers. (See Where Are You In Your Changes? for a fuller description of the Satir Change model and foreign elements.) As humans, different events trigger us. And because humans create and maintain organizations, different people will have different triggers.

Here are questions you can use as triggers. Does your approach or trusted solution:

  • Match your reality?
  • Make it easier to ask questions or discuss what the approach or solution “says”?
  • Make the work easier for the people doing the work?

If not, you might need a change.

Go Meta to Resolve the Triggers

IMNHO, the person who asked the tool question needs to help their management realize a tool for roadmaps is not the answer. The answer probably lies in all the roadmap problems I suggested at the start of that talk. (The roadmaps don’t match their reality, it’s too difficult to ask questions, and the roadmaps don’t make it easy on anyone.) It’s time for that organization to go meta on the problem.

The question this week is: What triggers you to change your approach or trusted solution?

2 thoughts on “What Triggers You to Change Your Approach or Trusted Solution?”

  1. When I feel like I’m not using the output of a solution/tool, I stop using it. This often manifests as noticing that I’m shoveling coal into the machine and can’t point to how I intend to use its output. I find this much easier to notice when I am providing the input and expecting to use the output. I find this much easier to ignore when other people are providing the input and I’m pretending to use the output. :)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: