Everything is changing nowadays, but then again, it alwas was:
“The only constant is change”, Heraclitus (c. 535 – 475 BC)
Change is such a fundamental topic for us that we have invented a lot of different understandings of it, depending on the context. And this is reflected by our ideas on how to deal with change – and how to control, guide, or describe it:
And there are many more. The problem with these categorizations is, that no matter how many categories we define, there are still more different kinds of change. But our categories can easily mislead us to believe that if our change fits into one particular category, then we can use the tools and techniques for that category without any problems.
Take projects, for instance. We, who work with project management, we so much want to believe that if we just use the correct method or framework, then we can handle any kind of project. But a quick glance at different projects really should make us doubt:
- Develop of a new airplane
- Run a conference
- Implement Lean
- Build a bridge
- Move a batch of windmill towers from the plant to the operations site
- Send a man to the Moon
- Publish a members magazine
I will claim that just this small selection of possible projects shows, without knowing any details of them, that there are many different skills involved, possibly many different sizes – from one person, through a team, big or small, to a lot of people – different time frames, different focus, etc. – the differences between some of them are bigger than the similarities!
Some would claim that publishing a magazine is not a project, because it is done several times – then it is not a unique activity, as a project should be. Well, but what if we then wish to send another man to the moon? Should we save the money for project managers in that repeated activity? There is no clear borderline between one-time-off and repeated activities.
There are many ways to deal with projects, including Lean Project Management. And there are many ways to deal with the other definitions of change as well. Quite often it is not clear why we put a specific change into exactly that specific category. And that should make us wonder: maybe we are doing it all wrong?
Maybe we should choose an individually designed approach to each change, perhaps inspired by the category tools but often ending with a hybrid approach instead of one particular. And maybe we should spend some time on analysing the situation before deciding which approach to take? And add a learning cycle to the process?
So, no more “we are a PMO so we run projects using PRINCE2/PMBoK/IPMA/whatever method” – instead, “we are clever people so we think before we act – and then we decide how to act”. Then maybe it will be possible to handle all kinds of change with a higher success rate than seen today.