Introducing a Change – Stand Up and Make Room

Being a leader may sometimes feel like being an ambitious guy trying to sell the idea of getting up after the break and continuing hiking uphill to the group of exhausted backpackers.

How to make them stand up and go?

Stand up first

There is no other way. Just talking about any idea you want to sell to others will not work. You have to give an example, be the first one.

A mountain guide willing his group to stand up, stands up first, with a backpack on his shoulders, ready to go.

Photo courtesy of Krystyna Kupiszewska
Photo courtesy of Krystyna Kupiszewska. On the photo: Jakub Organ

Make room

OK, so we have got most of people standing and almost ready (adjusting their backpacks, talking to each other, drinking water and so on).

Now, a non-obvious trick to make the “process” of starting smooth is to make few steps forward, then call and wait for them to move.

This is important because:

  • if you just start walking you may end up walking alone and
  • otherwise, if you just stand and wait right next the whole group you are actually blocking the way you want them to go.

Introducing an organizational change

From my experience introducing a change in the team or an organization usually requires following similar scenario. If you want others to adopt a practice, after showing them an example, you need to make some room for them to start.

Understanding this is important if you want people to self-organize, or even just take over some responsibilities.

A very simple example might be introducing a habit of documenting important things on a wiki. Or keeping an eye on continuous integration system. To make this ultimately happen you need to stop doing all of it yourself  (not to walk alone) and stop reminding about this every time. Otherwise you block room for progress.


PS This post and a previous one are part of “What a ScrumMaster Can Learn From a Mountain Guide” – something that may become a short series.


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