1 December 2008

Baby Blankets

I'm participating in a process review exercise at a client at the moment, reworking a painful, disconnected document-centric approach into something much more lean and collaborative. Our project sponsor, a VP, instructed the group that there were no sacred cows and that out of the box thinking was not only allowed, but encouraged.

"Cool!", I thought, "We can really make some changes here!"

However, after a number of half-days of wrangling, the process wasn't looking, smelling, feeling or sounding much different than that which it was to replace. That fact prompted one of the participants to opine:
Baby blankets. Some people just can't give up their baby blankets.
Nice... and very appropriate. Evidently I wasn't the only person who was at the point of gagging every time I heard the word "template". I'm tired of hearing that certain documentation must exist to satisfy external auditors without having those auditors in the room to clarify exactly what they need. I'm tired of hearing that dedicated project teams are impossible because there are too many concurrent projects at the moment (there's a hint in that sentence!!).

I'm tired of dealing with other people's baby blankets!!

These concepts/thoughts/artifacts only exist in their current form to provide comfort - they serve no other useful purpose, or at least that purpose has not been adequately explained.

Making any significant change to an organization is difficult, and forces people into areas of discomfort. When people are uncomfortable, the baby blankets come out. However, no meaningful change can occur if people don't accept that they may need to grow out of their blankets at some point, i.e. doing something different in order to obtain different results.

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