Changing Our Old Ways

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Changing Our Old Ways

Postby McDanielCA » Thu Jul 29, 2010 10:16 pm

Changing Our Old Way was originally posted on the main page of LDSTech. It was written by Rick Fielding.


Dealing with change is a popular topic in business. It’s the subject of many business books. Change in the business world parallels change in the gospel in many ways. The gospel of Jesus Christ is about repentance, the ultimate in personal change. Change in the business world focuses on how we as individuals and organizations react to external forces that disrupt the status quo. Technology industries are always changing. Advancements come at a dizzying pace and they impact how we deliver services to our customers. Changes, whether they are organizational or technological, are received in a variety of ways.

Recently we underwent organizational changes that would change the way we support our customers. For years, our support professionals specialized along departmental lines. We began the process of centralizing our support technicians and cross-training them. This had the potential to be perceived as a negative change in the eyes of both our support teams and their customers. From our perspective, it was aligning us with the industry and would allow us to use the resources we have more efficiently.

As part of the process for announcing this change, we used concepts from a great little book called Our Iceberg is Melting (John Kotter et al.). It’s a short read, perhaps an hour or so. The fable approach to this book makes it entertaining and helps drive the concepts home. The story is about a group of penguins that find their lives turned upside-down by the discovery that their iceberg is melting and disaster is imminent. As they worked together, the penguins demonstrated four steps to approaching an impending change.

  1. Set the Stage
  2. Decide What to Do
  3. Make it Happen
  4. Make it Stick
Set the Stage

In setting the stage, the penguin leadership council helped the others see what was happening and the resulting need for a change in their lives. They also identified those individuals who would provide the leadership needed to effect the change. Throughout the story, the reader gets to know different members of the flock, their personalities and their attitude toward the change. You begin to see the visionary leadership and old experience of Lewis as well as the naysayer attitude of NoNo; the no-nonsense drive of Alice and the love that everyone has for Buddy.

As we planned for our own melting iceberg, we started referring to each other by the names of the penguins we most resembled. This was helpful in identifying the best person on our leadership team to handle particular tasks.

Decide What to Do

Once the appropriate stakeholders were in place, they identified their vision and the strategy they would undertake.

As a leadership team, we included in this process early on those individuals that had key roles in our new organization. We also consulted someone outside of the organization who had gone through a similar transition before.

Make it Happen

There are several things that have to happen to actually bring the change to pass. These include:

  • Communicate – communicating constantly about what the changes
  • Empower Others – empowering others to act in bringing about the changes
  • Short-term Wins – take opportunities for little morale boosting victories
  • Don’t Let Up – be persistent and don’t give in when roadblocks come up
Failure to carry out each of these can quickly deteriorate the situation and cause the whole process to fail.

Make it Stick

The final step is to make sure that once the change has occurred that nothing comes along to undermine it. Some short-term failures may occur as new processes are ironed out, but if the changes have been integrated into the mindset and culture of the flock, they will not allow problems to pull their eyes from the overall vision.


As we tackled this change in our organization, we used these four principles as a map to implementing it. As part of making it a part of our new culture, we gave the book to each of our employees and took opportunities to remind them of the vision. The penguin became our logo, our ensign. Take an hour to read the book. Then, the next time change comes your way… ask yourself, “Do you have the vision? Or are you a NoNo?

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Postby marianomarini » Fri Jul 30, 2010 10:06 am

I'll try to read the book, but maybe you can answer to my question.
What about when leaders are a NoNo?
La vita è una lezione interminabile di umiltà (Anonimo).
Life is a endless lesson of humility (Anonimous).

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Postby ricosalv-p40 » Mon Aug 02, 2010 8:59 am

interestingly enough, NoNo was one of the 10 members of the Leadership Council in the beginning of the story. As the problems with the iceberg were identified, a small group of leaders and other penguins were formed to address the problem. NoNo was not a part of this group. His inability to even admit that a problem existed caused the group to cut him out completely. He did try to undercut the whole effort. Louis, the senior leader of the group ultimately found an ally that had some of the same expertise as NoNo and asked him to basically team up with NoNo to handle weather forecasting going forward. Having an ally to the leadership council basically shadowing NoNo effectively eliminated NoNo as a problem. NoNo was too busy trying to not lose his job to the new guy that he had no time to undermine their efforts.

So i guess the short answer is that they identified an ally who could be an opposing voice to NoNo. Someone who is respected by the group and who has at least the same level of credibility. This person didn't openly challenge NoNo, but simply voiced a different viewpoint that in effect negated NoNo's.

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Postby waynemwright-p40 » Wed Aug 25, 2010 3:01 pm

I like progress but there are three areas where NoNo is right about changes.

1. Change for the sake of change is expensive and counterproductive. Therefore, it is good to avoid fads or arbitrary changes to shake things up.

Years of experience has shown me that much money and effort is wasted in this way in education. I'm sure this is true in other areas as well.

2. Change is always more disruptive than anticipated. Even when peoples jobs depend on their response, change is slow and hard won. Simple changes have unforeseen consequences. Cost benefit analyses should be inflated by a factor of ten before deciding that change is worthwhile.

3. For changes that involve not only policy but <leo_highlight style="border-bottom: 2px solid rgb(255, 255, 150); background: transparent none repeat scroll 0% 50%; cursor: pointer; display: inline; -moz-background-clip: -moz-initial; -moz-background-origin: -moz-initial; -moz-background-inline-policy: -moz-initial;" id="leoHighlights_Underline_0" onclick="leoHighlightsHandleClick('leoHighlights_Underline_0')" onmouseover="leoHighlightsHandleMouseOver('leoHighlights_Underline_0')" onmouseout="leoHighlightsHandleMouseOut('leoHighlights_Underline_0')" leohighlights_keywords="technology" leohighlights_url_top="http%3A//" leohighlights_url_bottom="http%3A//" leohighlights_underline="true">technology</leo_highlight>, imposing changes on voluntary participants can lead to losses. In the indexing program there are indexers whose computers get left behind when changes use more memory and speed than they have available.

I am not completely a NoNo, but I do recommend that whereever possible change be incremental, gradual, and voluntary, and that a fallback alternative be available for those who far any reason cannot implement the changes.<input id="gwProxy" type="hidden"><!--Session data--><input onclick="if(typeof(jsCall)=='function'){jsCall();}else{setTimeout('jsCall()',500);}" id="jsProxy" type="hidden">

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