Friday, August 26, 2011

Maybe You’re Not Right and They’re Not Wrong

It may be that you’re a bit too caught up in yourself if the organization you’re trying to force change upon isn’t willing to adopt that change. If you see yourself as the one voice in the wilderness trying to move a group in a new direction, then maybe you need to look at whether or not the change you’re trying to effect is for the organization’s good, or your own sense of self-worth.

Maybe that group or organization has had some successes. Maybe they’re getting things done in a way that’s different from what you’re passionate about. Does it make them wrong? Wrong in your view, perhaps, but perhaps not wrong for that organization.

Maybe your passionate cries for change aren’t being taken as a positive thing. Maybe those cries are being heard in a completely different fashion than you intend, regardless of how many different approaches you try. Maybe instead of forming allies in your cause, you’re alienating those around you. Maybe instead of being seen as a motivating agent of change, you’re being seen as a distraction or worse a hindrance.

Maybe the organization’s also using you as a token: “Yep, at least we’ve got <him/her> around to keep us straight!” Those words are easy for people to say. Implementing the changes you’re passionate about aren’t quite so easy – but again, maybe the things you’re so passionate about aren’t a great fit for that organization.

If the organization’s not doing things that put people’s lives in jeopardy, or if they’re not behaving illegally or unethically, then perhaps you need to re-think why it’s so important for you to make them change. Maybe they really don’t need to change to be successful in their own view – and that’s completely acceptable.

Maybe in that context you’re not right and they’re not wrong.

Move on. It’s OK. Find a place where you’re not the sole voice in the wilderness. You’ll be happier, they’ll be happier.


David said...

Today is my last day ... I got tired of fighting for agile, unit testing, etc. Not that I am a guru, mind you, but I wanted to be someplace where there was a commitment to doing and getting better at those sorts of things.
Spooky :)

Seth Petry-Johnson said...

You can change the place you work... or you can change the place you work.

I've been the sole voice in the wilderness, howling in the face of resolute (and obviously wrong, IMHO) opposition. When economic conditions changed and the business unit demanded a staff reduction, I was laid off. I had been pouring so much energy into trying to effect change that I didn't realize that I was being perceived if not negatively, at least not as the white knight I thought I was.

Not long after I found a new organization that was already on the path I wanted to travel. And you're right: I'm happier on my new team, and my old team is probably happier without me.

(They're still Doin' It Wrong if you ask me, tho :)

Shih-gian Lee said...

It is not so much about right or wrong. It is about continuous improvement. An organization that refuses to evolve is undergoing "slow death". I have seen organization underwent slow death and got out of it. When such organization goes down, you will be laid off and your skill set is depleted. Fighting the battle alone is hard enough. If change does not come from top, it is time to move on. This is a wise advice from my business school professor almost 10 years ago.

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