Who is the Change For?

I changed my newsletter for this site, from not-reliable-quarterly to (with any luck) reliable monthly. Why? Because the lack of frequency made it more difficult for me to keep up with the newsletter. That’s not what I want as a writer. I am sure it’s not what you want as a reader. I’ll post the newsletters on or about the 10th of the month, starting next month.

I made the change for me and for my newsletter subscribers. I want to provide value more often. I receive the value when I write about adaptability. You receive the value when I send you something once a month. Especially if I’m reliable about it.

Two sites I use a lot just changed their user interface. I am sure that they think the changes are a feature. I can barely use the sites any longer.

On one of the sites, they asked for feedback. I provided it. (I know, you are so surprised!) I explained how the features I used are many more clicks away, how the colors do not enhance the usability, and how they have managed to hide the features I use most often.

The person who started the thread defended their choices. In effect, she told me I was wrong for wanting what I wanted.

That’s when I realized the changes were not for the site’s users. The changes were for the people who run the site. A key insight.

I haven’t bothered telling the other site how bad their new user interface is. The site hasn’t been for the users for a long time. It’s for advertisers and job seekers.

If you are changing something, consider who the change is for. Here are some questions you might find helpful:

  • Who benefits from the change?
  • Who loses something from the change?
  • Of those people, who is most important to you? You might decide that the people who benefit are most important to you. If not, this question might change your proposed change(s).
  • How will this change affect our status?
  • What does success look like?
  • How will we measure success?

You might want to read about project success where I suggest context-free questions in What Does Success Look Like?

Here’s one of the problems I see a lot in projects. Often, the people asking for the change(s) do not discuss what success looks like or how to measure it. Without measuring success, you are trying, not experimenting. I find I need to experiment more—with measurable data—rather than try something.

I’m certainly not an opponent of change. And, I have found that thinking about when and what to change, and how I measure it is a better idea than going ahead with the change.

That is the question this week: Who is the change for?

2 thoughts on “Who is the Change For?

  1. Tomas

    Great article as usual, Johanna! And I agree with you that the common understanding that people resist change is just plain wrong. People don’t resist change – actually, we are very good in accomodating to it and even starting it. What we do resist is foolish ideas that we don’t believe, don’t see any value in. So I believe the question you are asking is a necessary one. If we want a change to happen, who for? Why should it be important to the people affected? Why should they welcome it?

    1. johanna Post author

      Tom, thanks so much. Glad you like it.

      I like the way you frame this as a question of value. (I actually say that if you want to use agile, say the business reasons, the value, in one of my books in progress. I forgot to say that in the post :-)

      When we see value, even if we aren’t happy with a change, we will manage to it.

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