3-18 2013 painPain

When targeting process improvement opportunities where do you start? I would suggest start by finding solutions for problems that are causing the organization the most pain NOW. Pain is one of those things that we would rather not experience and will work diligently to escape when we are in it . . . usually. Usually? If a problem has been around a while and has not gotten any more severe more than likely you are not going to get a ground swell of support for spending the time and effort needed for the fix. As you build your backlog carry around a pain chart and then ask how long the problem has been around.  The higher the pain and newer the problem the greater the chance the fix will be important!

Arcane Snow Blowing

Change agents need to have knowledge of many arcane skills when practicing organizational change.  Sales is one of the most arcane.  Sales brings to mind used car salesmen in plaid sports coats. Fortunately the perception does not have to be accurate nor is the skill arcane.

Why are sales skills important?  Ask any professional salesman or woman and they will tell you that an immediate pain is an important motivator to making a sale, maybe the most important motivator. At least 99.9% of the people in the world want pain to go away when they have it which is why an aspirin is an easier sale if someone has a headache.  The art of persuasion, sales and requirements gathering is the ability to peel back the layers until you can expose the root cause so the pain can be solved not just masked. The ability to successfully navigate the “pain” conversation to get to the root cause and not irritate person feeling the pain is a skill not consistently found on IT project teams. Bottom-line: I highly recommend a course in salesmanship for all change agents and requirements analysts, make sure your process improvement program solves current problems and always carry a snow shovel and an aspirin.