Yesterday I attended a DFW Scrum user group meeting, and Gary commented that coaches and consultants often start with, "Ideally..." and then move on to later talk about what to do given the current environment. Why do we talk about the ideal when we're trying to encourage change? Why don't we start with the "real world" answer?
Much of the industry discourse on change, and the innovation to respond to it, reminds me of a story told by the head of a teacher’s organization in Utah years ago. The person sitting beside her on a flight asked, “What’s the one thing we need to do to fix education?” To which she replied, “Get rid of all the people who think there is one thing that will fix education.” The parallel here is that how we approach change should be multi-dimensional and contextual. Whatever answers we come up with have to fit a particular context, within a certain period of time until that context changes. There isn’t one answer.
If there isn't one answer, why does there seem to be a single ideal answer we can give? Isn't it just a "by the book" answer that is impossible to reach? There's more to it. The ideal answer is not based on ideal situations--it's often related to proven practices or characteristics that lead to success. It's based on empirical data. As such, we owe our audiences--be it our teams or other stakeholders--deeper explanation of those ideal answers. Let's delve into the why behind the answer and give examples. The proof is out there--it just needs to be shown to further encourage change to become closer to the ideal. It's the ideal practices and characteristics that can make the path to success more visible to us.