In my line of work, the I am usually asked to do a job because something is not working, or is not working as well as it should. Since I am in a specialised area of business, the job that needs to be done may not always have the wholehearted support of local management but have been imposed upon them from higher up the food chain. (There is another area of work which is generally of the same type wherever it may take place; work against smugglers and counterfeiters.) Being a contractor, it is often possible for me to come up with more radical or far-reaching solutions than would be possible from inside the organisation, since everyone can ‘blame’ me when I pack up my desk and take my cheque. Most of what I do involves change, and much of the time, managing change also, though I’m not going to get into that here; what I do want to talk about is; ‘Why change?’
There are two reasons to change something, whether it be a physical object or a process: it is broken, or there is a better alternative. The first case is easy to identify; if something isn’t working it is pretty damn obvious to all. The second case may not always be so clear. In what way is the alternative ‘better?’ It is necessary to demonstrate quite clearly to all concerned, (all ‘stakeholders,’ in the modern jargon,) why any proposed alternative to an existing thing or process, would be ‘better,’ than what is to be junked and replaced.
When making the case for change, there is a process which ought to be followed, maybe differing in petty detail from time to time, or place to place, but the same in broad outline and in the steps that make for a convincing argument. First, the reason(s) for making the change need to be clearly identified. Next the proposed change(s) need(s) to be clearly explained. If there is more than one alternative, each needs to have it’s merits and drawbacks clearly shown. Then a recommended change needs to be proposed. The change should be supported by arguments drawn out of the first two steps. Finally the costs – financial and organisational/social should be precisely and transparently demonstrated, ( including the costs of doing nothing.)
That’s how it goes. If change is proposed, make the case. If you can’t make the case, expect to be shredded.