When Change Doesn’t Make Sense and Why it Should

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Nearly everyone experiences the frustration of unexpected change. Patterns of life and work flow are often interrupted by innovations that don’t make sense. Everything from software and TV remotes to roadways and voting locations. Change typically comes without much explanation and while the reasons are evident to engineers and developers, others are often outside that bubble.

Users are typically told what is new, but seldom are they told the why behind it. In some cases the explanation given is so broad it’s almost worthless. “To improve traffic safety” or ” to enhance the customer experience.”

Leaving out the why happens in part because it isn’t needed to sell products. Sales is driven by short term what and who. Why is only needed if it helps complete the transaction. Technical support, customer service, trainers, and elected officials are left to sort through questions of why things changed, often without solid answers.

The result of the non-answers they provide is often frustration. Yet with a little explaining on the front end, those who are interested in the why can become strong advocates for “What’s New.” They’ll be less resistant when they get a glimpse of the reasoning behind the changes. Assuming those reasons make sense.

Converting what into why can give advocates more reason to support the change. If it can be explained well, others will share the story. If not, people will make efforts to point out a speculative why, and chances are that speculation with be negative. “They changed it because they’re idiots.” Don’t give them the opportunity.

Take what the engineers, planners, and developers know and put it in terms those impacted by the change can easily understand. Building the right story around the boring details can go along towards increasing confidence in your organization.

Ready to Turn Around?

CountrysideTrue story. A couple living in Georgia drives to Utah to visit family. While in Colorado they see a sign that says ‘Shortest route to Salt Lake City’ and they decide to follow the sign and take the road. The highway changes from four lanes to two, and eventually becomes a dirt road. They know they’ve gone down the wrong road but they keep driving for a while before turning around and finding a highway that takes them to their intended destination.

What is the point of this story? Often we know we’ve gone down the wrong path long before we’re ready to turn around. Sometimes we’re hoping to find another way out. Other times it may simply be the stubbornness of the commitment.

Whatever the reason, it’s helpful to remember that recognition of error doesn’t always equal instant correction. Not in ourselves or in others.

It takes courage to accept a mistake when an individual, couple, or group is committed to a process. Especially when most others will never know how far things have veered off course. They may never know, and what they do know doesn’t matter.

What matters is that individuals make the choice to accept where they are, turn around, and make the journey back even if it requires covering some of the same ground.