When things are going wrong on a project or in a team, our first, knee-jerk reaction is that everything has to change.
We have to change the process.
We have to change the deliverables.
We have to change the people.
When the truth of the matter, what needs to change might be something less drastic.
How we run our meetings?
What our priorities are?
Understanding who is doing what?
These are not changes that you will find in a culture change deck or that will get people excited about and pumped about what they need to do next, but they are just as important (if not more).
They are nudges, small pushes in a direction you want to go in that require minimal changes but can yield a huge impact down the line when implemented correctly.
A good example I always come back to with developers are Code Reviews.
When you first to decide to implement Code Reviews, you don’t turn on all the rules on the first day. If you do, you’ll have a hard stop on any work being completed as people try to work their way through the rules and, in order to get work down, find ways around them and override the rules because “things need to get done today”.
A better approach is to introduce the concept, and introduce one, maybe two rules a week. Let the team acclimate to the new process and changes so they can gradually onboard to the changes. By the end of a month, you’ll have a process in place with maybe not all the rules you initially set out to accomplish, but some as well as having people buying into the process and not overriding it, finding workarounds for them or phoning them in.
This a nudge, a push in the right direction, with a long-term goal in mind that takes short-term actions to get there.
Nudges help teams get better and grow at a sustainable rate where everyone feels a part of the solution and implementation. They are what build up the great team cultures we read about.
Leaders with teams that are constantly evolving, growing, and changing implement nudges for the simple reason that if a first nudge doesn’t work, there is no big drawback to its implementation. We iterate and move on, but if it does work, we keep nudging, keep pushing with our eye on the larger goal — change.