Tech Manager—The Third Law of Tech Motion
In the last two articles, we have covered the First and Second Laws of Tech Motion. Now we move to the Third Law of Tech Motion. The whole point of these “Laws” are to get things moving and progress them along.
Newton’s Third Law (From Wikipedia): “When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body.”
Or you may know it more simply as: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
So using this in a tech environment we can state the Third Law of Tech Motion as: “When change is coming, people will resist” or “When you push a change on people, people will push back.” I have seen this happen so many times and I am sure you have also.
When tech managers ponder a path toward change, they need to make sure they plan on people pushing back. It can take many forms and come from various levels and staffers, but it will come. Being prepared for it and responding properly and timely is critical to making the change go smoothly.
The Push Back – an Equal and Opposite Reaction
It may not seem like an equal and opposite reaction, and it often may be very subtle. You need to watch for it and exert a little more pressure to move forward. For a good in-depth treatment of how to respond to the push back, check out my articles in April and May 2016 AUGIWorld—“Resistance Is Futile” and “Resistance Is Fruitful.”
For this article I want to just mention that the resistance is usually not equal to the push you are making. Some folks will push hard and others may exert themselves less and in different ways.
- It may come from Design Staff, that may not take your leadership as orders to move. They may think that following along is optional. They think they can take it or leave it. They may act like they agree and then slide back to their defined path. They just do not want to change. They may be outspoken or soft spoken, but they resist.
- It may come from Management or Clients. They do not want their projects to be the guinea pigs for testing some new release or process.
- It may come from Systems. By this I mean you will have to wrestle the software, hardware, and processes that are currently in place. Keep your eyes open for any push back and respond.
To close out this series I wanted to mention one more thing…
Change Changes Things – Kinetic Energy
In physics, the kinetic energy of an object is the energy that it possesses due to its motion.
I wanted to talk about how change generates more change. Change builds upon change. When one thing changes, it changes more things, it changes options, it changes everything.
Maybe “Change Changes Things” is a little corny as a statement, but there is a catchy song by the Stereophonics (check it out on YouTube). Just stumbled on that tune with a Google search. But it does support my point—when one change is made it opens the door to other changes.
Change that create other changes is the reason for this entire series of articles. I started thinking about how things change and realized that as change progresses, it opens other doors. It generates ideas. It builds upon the last change. It creates opportunities. It becomes a series of “what if” statements.
To see how this might play out in your change strategy, try a few ideation scenarios.
No bad ideas. This is said a lot and it is hard to stop critiquing as you are creating. But let the ideas flow. Write them down and store them away for later review. I have done this before. Then I return later and look at my notes. When I read some of them, I have no clue as to what I meant. Others sound strange, or impossible still. But some strike the right chord and I stop and think. Hmmm….
Pause and ponder. What door does this open? What might we be able to do now? That old limit is now gone. Since we changed this, we could change that. Maybe it is adding steps to a process, or better—removing or simplifying steps for greater speed and/or accuracy. Rethink what you have always thought. Don’t write it off, but really think about how you might make or incorporate more or better change into your change.
Get to the root principle. Many times anchoring a change to a root principle can drive adoption. By simplifying the new process or method, then others can link it to something they already agree to or pin it to a farther reaching impact. You can also show how the new reinforces the principle or value that your team/firm embraces already. Link it to a company goal.
Bundle together ideas and shape them into an overarching concept, principle, or method. Look for patterns of repeating ideas or variations of the same idea. Group them and run them past others to see what they think.
Think outcome and results, not deliverables and due date. To push forward with more force, make sure you reach beyond the due date and see the future with clear eyes. Paint a picture for those who sneer at you about how things will get better. Change is tough and takes effort, but effort pays off. Visualize the idea and the outcome. Don’t just define the steps, but share the new world that will open up to you all.
Change has no stop signs. There may not be an endpoint. There really is no limit to the number of changes that can be generated from any given change. Drive the idea toward a solution.
You need to push pause. At some point you will need to pause, slow, or stop the change process to give people a break from the activity of change. Let the new soak in. Let folks settle into the new way of doing things.
The momentum that change creates is kinetic. It creates energy and also consumes it. You need to let change permeate to the core of your processes. But don’t rest there too long. Remember the First Law. Objects at rest tend to stay at rest. Your job as a Tech Manager is to not rest too long.
Mark Kiker has more than 25 years of hands-on experience with technology. He is fully versed in every area of management from deployment planning, installation, and configuration to training and strategic planning. As an internationally known speaker and writer, he is a returning speaker at Autodesk University since 1996. Mark is currently serving as Director of IT for SIATech, a non-profit public charter high school focused on dropout recovery. He maintains two blog sites, www.caddmanager.com and www.bimmanager.com .