A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about how and why companies that embrace change win. After publishing the post I got a lot of questions from you on how to cultivate that culture in your team. It’s a very good question. Change is very hard, for us, as individuals, and perhaps even more difficult for organizations. So I took the time to think of the things we did and still do to foster a culture that embraces change for continuous improvement. Here are the top things that work for us.

Start with the riskiest part of the project

You are more likely to embrace change in the early stages of a project before you invest too much time in it and get attached to your beautiful work. So plan ahead and start with the riskiest part first. This way you can measure and learn from your results, and decide on a change of direction as early as possible.

For example if the riskiest part of a project is customer engagement, you might put up a non-functional interface and track how many people engage with it. On user engagement, you can display a friendly message to let the user know that the feature is not there yet but will be up soon. This way you can track interest, and change direction if need be, before you invest the time to implement that feature.

On the other hand, if the riskiest part is an unknown technology required for the development of the project. You can start by researching the technology before you do any further development or interface design work.

Everyone does customer support

Every person who ever worked at Sandglaz gets to do customer support. Whether you are designing an interface, marketing, or building a feature, understanding the customer’s perspective is essential to doing a good job. Marketers need to learn how to talk about your product and features in the same language your customers use. UX Designers and developers needs to see how the customer interacts with your various features. And there is no better way to learning about the customer than by talking to them and answering their tickets and requests. If it’s feasible to have everyone in your team contribute to customer support equally, then give it a try. Otherwise, you can consider doing rotations to get everyone some degree of exposure.

So how will this help you in embracing change? Well, people need to buy-in the change to embrace it. When all team members have some level of understanding of the customer’s needs, then changes in direction are a lot easier to explain. It might even leave your team more motivated.

Analytics trumps emotional attachment

Even though we try to start with the riskiest part of the project and change direction as early as we can, we often need to kill fully completed beautiful projects that just didn’t do as well! Analytics always trumps emotional attachment.

Always collect data, and always discuss it openly with your team. When unsure run an A/B test. Analytics gets everyone in your team focused on the same goals. It gives you a language to discuss what you’re trying to achieve and why one direction is better or worse than another. These discussions help reinforce the mindset that a change of direction for the purpose of improvement is always welcomed.

Transparency and in-house feedback

Leading by example is one of the best, and maybe only, way to lead. So be transparent about your own work, what worked and what didn’t, and any changes you are embracing!
In addition to talking to customers and collecting user behaviour analytics, there are numerous advantages for collecting in-house feedback to further help you make decisions. Whether it’s 30% feedback or 90% feedback, it brings your team together and connects them to the overall company goals. It also sets the culture of “we give each other feedback to help steer projects to a better direction”. This is what embracing change is all about.

Celebrate the advantages of the new direction

You might not pull out the champagne glasses and make a toast every time you embrace change, but you can vocalize all the thing you are happy about with a change. As with everything else in this world, a positive attitude comes a long way. Maybe you see a brighter nicer future with the new direction, or maybe you know of a customer who will really appreciate this change. Mention any positives that come to your mind. It will help you and your team embrace the change.

Did you cultivate a team culture that embraces change? Do you have any more tips for us? We’d love to hear them in the comments below.