Notes on Bringing Change to Life (in Your Organization) by Bill Scott

Based on the slides from Bill Scott’s presentation today at the MXConference, link here.

Just because I couldn’t attend the conference doesn’t mean I can’t learn from the keynote presentation! Thanks to Bill for uploading his slides so quickly.

Culture is norms of behaviour + underlying shared values

Inside-out culture is:

  • Roll your own
  • Disconnected delivery experience
  • Culture of long shelf-life
  • Inward focused
  • Risk adverse

Current behavior may be deep-seated and well-reinforced. So how can you bring change to your team and company?

2 essentials:

  • Persistence–based on strongly-held principles, not stubbornness
  • Improv–Humbly listening and adapting to what you hear, not “just winging it”

7 steps to bringing change:

  1. Believe something deeply–make the customer foundation of your principles. Don’t confuse principles with programs or processes. Never abandon your principles–they’ll sustain you when everything goes wrong. Some principles include shared understanding, deep collaboration and continuous feedback.
  2. Understand the culture–listen first, there’s wisdom in the crowd. Formulate hypotheses for change and verify by testing. Don’t start with a recipe, process or program. Know your user; design should be a contextual experience. Experimentation over long shelf-life.
  3. Fix the pain points–change won’t work if it’s about you self-promoting. Start solving key problems in the organization and embrace the problem, not the solution.
  4. Rally the troops–as you interview and listen, you’ll find like-minded folks who are often the ones closest to the real problems. Make them your allies. You will also encounter the weary, the complacent, the perpetrators–avoid them. Spinkle in the new DNA from the outside.
  5. Prototype the change–find a way to fail fast, learn fast. A sandbox is a good way to encourage a pilot project. Measure success and bring your allies (and detractors) through the change experience. Act your way into right thinking and create a story of success.
  6. Then tell that success story–focus on your learnings and reinforce your principles. Bring in experts from outside to reinforce your story from the beginning; they’ll legitimize your efforts. Make a meme to tell the story and create “tweetable moments.”
  7. Keep iterating–what worked last year might not work this year; organizations are always changing. Improvisation is your friend. Don’t give up–keep repeating all of the previous steps.

Bill Scott is Sr. Director UI Engineering at PayPal.

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