Monthly Archives: February 2008

Motion vs. Progress

A friend of mine that I used to live with, who was working as a consultant at the time, once told me about a meeting that he was in (if I remember correctly.) where somebody had used the phrase “Let’s not confuse motion with progress”.

I’ve long been campaigning for a change to take place here and, during my absence last week, plans were put in to action to make some within the department and another department that we work closely with. I tend to think that change is a good thing (as long as it’s not change, for changes sake), certainly I’m an advocate of continual change or at least, continual improvement. It’s the latter part of that statement where the difference lies and the reason behind this post.

Continual Improvement would suggest that you are striving to understand the issues that you have and that when you change, you are looking to adapt to the learnings you have taken, or try new methods that will potentially afford better results (with a general acceptance that you’re only as good as your last mistake). Think Agile, think Inspect and Adapt or from a Lean perspective, Amplify Learning.

When change comes down from the top you have to question the sensibility of it, there’s no doubt that it will be informed but just how accurate is it? I likened the way in which the changes are taking place here yesterday to somebody to something I read in Mary Poppendieck’s book – Lean Software Development – An Agile Toolkit. Whereas the traditional armed services in the U.S. (Army, Navy and Air Force) plan everything and then pass down commands through the chain of command, their Marine Corps plan up to a certain point and then rely upon the people on the ground to use their training and more importantly, their understanding of the issues that they are faced with to make the right decisions. I’ve just finished reading The Wisdom of Crowds which also suggests that as long as you meet some conditions, the crowd (i.e. many people) are more likely to come up with the right solution than the few.

Change is good, even making the wrong change isn’t a bad thing, as long as you have a mechanism in place that allows you to accept that you’ve made a mistake and to (if necessary) make another change which may completely contradict the change you have just made.