Nothing Changes Without An "Oh Fuck!" Moment

I would never have sold so many Google Apps GSuite Google Workplace licences without a massive, "Oh Fuck!" moment in 2007-2008.

Having struck out on my own with this new "cloud"* approach to providing 'enterprise quality' office basic services to everyone at the same price via a web browser I met a wall of CIOs telling me I was dreaming. It's well known there are many many ways to say No, I heard them all.

When these CIOs tasked their teams to create the budget for the upcoming years it was full of the same old stuff, $ for upgrades of the servers, $ demanded for licences, $ for the people looking after the tin ... standard budgetary process.

This was 2007-2008, the global financial crisis was in full swing.

"You want how much Mr CIO? Hah, have you eve read the newspapers?! No! Go away and do it with LESS money"

Oh Fuck!

The meetings started appearing in my calendar, "You know I told you you were mad with all that Google stuff, um, could you just pop in and take me through it one more time, things have changed ..."

Back in the mid 1990s I was working for the Department of Corrections helping them shift from Ingress database to ... another type, it evades me. This was all running on Sun Solarix, an environment I was comfortable within. One day, it'll have been a Tuesday mark my words, I logged on to the test environment with my ID and decided I needed to blow everything I had been working on away and start again. 

rm *.* -rf

Within seconds up shot the error messages! Oh fuck!
Yip, logged into production ... as root. I don't know why, I can't remember what was going on, and let's not go there, I had my moment.

It got sorted and within an hour no-one outside of the team was the wiser. But I changed how the environment made sure you knew WHO you were logged in as and WHERE you were.

Most change management practice assumes the Oh Fuck moment has happened. It works on the premise that change is in action, even if it's right at the beginning. This is a mistake to be made.

A common change management model is the Prosci ADKAR

  • Awareness
  • Desire
  • Knowledge
  • Ability
  • Reinforcement

Lack of awareness of the reason for change was cited as the primary source of employee resistance [..] if an employee cannot answer "what's in it for me?" resistance is likely to occur. And when resistance is overlooked or ignored, projects face increased resistance, slowed progress and reduced return on investment.
source: Prosci: Awareness ebook

See what I mean, the spark of change has happened somewhere and we're into raising awareness of it. Without that spark then change won't even kick off. 

These moments of Oh fuck happen at differing times, and for different reasons, but without it there is no change.

When it happens be open, honest, and very communicative about it - this is the seed, the reason, the point of disrupting the comfortable status quo. 

I'll leave you with two additional thoughts.
Are you changing without an Oh Fuck moment, if so, why bother - just get really really good at what you're currently doing.

HOWEVER, if the moment arrives and you don't see it but others do (or think they do), then spend time really questioning your assumptions about the environment you're working within as you may have a blind spot. No-one wants to be Kodak. [more on this in the next article]

The world is going through tumultuous times which may or may not be an Oh Fuck moment for you and your people. If it is, don't hide away from it, be glad that it has hit you in the face and now, start changing in response.


* I don't recall if it was even called "cloud" back then, maybe.

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