Take a moment and think about what makes your job difficult. Chances are there are ineffective tools or processes in place that are holding you back.
Now consider what you’ll do about those difficulties. It’s easy to sit back and complain, but it’s more beneficial to break that complaint cycle by enacting change. So how do you get leaders to understand that software quality is a critical priority that can help you get to market faster with software users will love?
It isn’t always easy, but with the right skills and techniques you can become an effective agent of change. In our recent webinar, “How Testers Can Become Agents of Change in Their Organizations,” Anthem Quality Leader Adam Satterfield shared his advice for inspiring positive changes. We’ve summarized the key takeaways below.
Identifying Opportunities for Change
Generally, there are three types of change: Tools, processes and people. Critically, the push for change in these areas can come from anywhere in the organization, as agents of change can be doers, leaders or even outsiders impacted by another department’s processes.
As you think about what in your organization needs to change, one of the best places to start is with complaints. Beyond any complaints, using a “Start, Stop, Continue” model can help identify opportunities for change. Taken from Agile retrospectives, this model offers a straightforward way to have conversations about what your team should stop doing (because it’s not working well), what your team should start doing (because there’s an opportunity for growth and improvement) and what your team should continue doing (because it is working well).
Enacting Change in Your Organization
Once you’ve identified an opportunity for change, there’s still a long road in front of you to make that change a reality. It won’t always be easy, but when you get to the end it will be immensely rewarding.
Getting started with change requires the following activities:
- Know your audience: To gain buy-in for change, you need to understand your audience, including the types of evidence that are most likely to persuade them and the best way to present that evidence to them. In this case, taking a “What’s In it For Me?” (aka WIFM) approach can help you frame your arguments around what your audience is most concerned about and why the change will positively impact them.
- Fully understand the problem: Next, you need to prepare to go all the way with your idea by turning it into actionable next steps. This requires you to understand the root of the problem (e.g. wasted effort, wasted money, low quality) and the best solution for your business. Specifically, you should understand your business’ top priorities (e.g. attracting new customers, growing relationships with existing customers) and align the outcome of the change with those goals.
- Develop a pitch: The pitch is your chance to strut your stuff and explain exactly what you want to do. Your pitch should explain to your audience the problem with the current setup, how you propose to solve that problem and the positive impact of making that change, all with a WIFM mindset. Essentially, you need to answer the questions of “where and why are we struggling?” and “how will change alleviate those struggles?” in a way that matters to your audience.
- Poke holes in your pitch: Plan for disagreement by identifying weaknesses in your pitch and mapping out responses to those disagreements. This planning allows you to open your mind to potential pitfalls early on and pivot as needed for maximum success.
Tips for Effective Change
You will likely encounter road bumps along your journey to change, but that’s completely normal. Along the way, there are several steps you can take to alleviate these challenges and enact change successfully:
- Don’t give up: Change gets derailed all the time. Whether it’s the threat of death by committee, leaders who are unwilling to change or simply a misunderstanding of the need, you can not let an initial answer of “no” be the end of your journey. If you truly believe in the change and the positive impact it will make, don’t give up. In the face of any derailments, consider pivoting and reframing the conversation or looking elsewhere within your organization for support and/or buy-in.
- Find a partner or team: Change doesn’t have to be a solo journey. Look for champions throughout your organization who have the same passion and can help represent your ideas. If you think the change is important but will be difficult to push through, the more people you have on your side, the better off you’ll be.
- Learn from past successes: Talk to people in your organization who have successfully enacted change and ask them what hurdles they had to overcome, how they framed their message and which people were blockers or champions. Then use their learnings to support your own efforts.
- Take ownership: If you’re a leader, allow your team to take ownership from start to finish and let change happen from the bottom up. As a bonus, this type of bottom up ownership will improve adoption and overall follow-through.
Are You Ready to Make a Change?
It’s essential to remember that becoming an agent of change is up to you. Opportunity doesn’t wait for anyone, and it can pass you by quickly, so when you see an opportunity for change, get up and take it.
What else do you need to know to successfully bring change to your organization and overcome any roadblocks that might crop up along the way? Check out our webinar on how testers can become agents of change to find out.