I find it quite ironic that we are continually told how we live in a world of constant and unpredictable change, and yet IT people often seem to get agitated by requirements changing. Or even by anything unexpected or out of the blue happening.

This agitation seems be increasing. Why?

I could say that what I’ve just said may well come back to haunt me. Yet I first wrote about it 12 or more years ago and I’ve certainly worked on projects that have fallen victim to requirements changing, sometimes in the most dramatic way. So you could say it already has. I’ve also lived through occasions where there weren’t even any proper ‘requirements’ at all. Just a vague set of statements from senior levels about what broadly (sometimes VERY broadly indeed) needed to happen. It was for IT to work out what they need to do.

So sod it. Let’s reiterate it again.

In my view, there is often not enough change. The problem doesn’t lie with ‘change’ in itself. It lies with the fact that people are often uneasy or nervous instigating initiatives because they don’t understand the consequences of the change. They don’t know where it will end up. It could actually be fairly straightforward – but we don’t know. This can lead to a quest for the ‘safe’ route or perhaps abandoning initiatives entirely. It can also lead to people not being open and honest with their intentions for fear of opening a ‘can of worms’. Yet ‘cans of worms’ (or sacks of snakes sometimes) is what IT is all about, surely?

What concerns me is the mindset that seems to regard the unexpected or unforeseen as some sort of failure. It is increasingly seen as a ‘target’ or ‘commitment’ that hasn’t been met. It is indicative of personal deficiency.

This is all folly: It implies that change is ‘good’ on the one hand yet is a ‘problem’ to be ‘solved’ on the other when it, err, changes. We seem to be moving into into an era where people are terrified of the unexpected or of anything that can’t be completely planned for up front. The myth is perpetuated that the unexpected, unpredictable and unplanned can in some way be designed out. That if only we do things “right” or learn some secret rules or knowledge we will end up with perfection.

This is also folly: To me, IT isn’t about trying to prevent, control or design out the unexpected, but to do what we can to prepare ourselves for the inevitability of things not going according to plan.

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