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Be a Better Tech

Too Soon!

If you've spent any time in IT, you've likely been a part of a significant change that either introduces a new system or replaces an existing one.

Change is difficult - even the simplest difference in a process or how a system works can result in challenges. However, one tricky issue that befalls larger projects is the inability to sustain motivation throughout all phases of a project.

In a recent enterprise cloud migration, I experienced this first-hand. Over the first couple of phases, some of the most difficult hurdles were traversed, and the team celebrated - and rightly so! The early work was challenging, and we were right to enjoy the glow of accomplishment. But an unfortunate side effect was that the team developed a mild hubris about the project and lost the intense drive and focus we had at the outset. As a result, the project lost momentum, and it seemed to go on endlessly- well past its initially targeted completion date.

If your answer to this is, 'Then don't celebrate until the end!', to quote the principal in the movie Billy Madison, "I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."

NoPoints.jpg

But seriously, eliminating or reducing celebrations is not a good idea: to help sustain momentum you should celebrate small wins and big wins along the way. John Kotter in his best-selling book The Heart of Change, says this: 
 

"After the first set of short-term wins, a change effort will have direction and momentum. In successful situations, people build on this momentum to make a vision a reality by keeping urgency up and a feeling of false pride down; by eliminating unnecessary, exhausting, and demoralizing work; and by not declaring victory prematurely". 


Momentum building is the key. Celebrate the completions of milestones, but keep the focus on the final result. Review all of the project tasks and automate or eliminate tasks that are tedious or boring. When you celebrate, don't declare victory - imagine and cast a vision of how great it will be when the work is finally complete. Remove anything that slows momentum by keeping the team focused on the vital tasks: the critical path to success. As a tech, keep an eye on your own motivation about a project and don't fall into the trap of declaring victory before final completion. Celebrate the path forward, congratulate your team members on the great work they're doing, and encourage them to persist through to the last milestone.

Ken Broeren