Keep Your Teddy Bear! Introducing Probabilistic Forecasting to Your Team
When it comes to introducing probabilistic forecasting, it is paramount that you tackle any resistance head-on.
Do you have kids? My son David is 4 years old, and my daughter Louise is now 6. She will start first grade in September. She used to have a Teddy Bear when she was little and she was crazy about it! She slept with it, she ate with it, she couldn’t leave it, not even for a second. When it lost its plush hand for the first time, she was so devastated that I had to needle it at 10pm in the evening.
Now (a few years later), she is much more interested in counting the number of dresses she has in her wardrobe and trying to figure out creative ways to get into my make up. But, the Teddy Bear still sits on the corner of her bed. Even though she is not interested in playing with it anymore, she still wants it in her life. She feels safe and comfortable by having it there, by her side, all the time.
Embracing Change Management
Looking after our kids has a lot of similarities to change management. When it comes to introducing new practices to your team – with the aim of improving your performance and delivery speed – you need to approach the situation with empathy. That’s especially true when it comes to changing the way you make delivery predictions. The traditional methods of estimating have been so widely used and they’ve been the same for so long, that this approach (even though it is flawed) has become deeply ingrained in the way we manage our work.
When introducing the probabilistic forecasting method, don’t be surprised if people resist. And, if you don’t meet that challenge in the most effective manner, you’ll put your entire transformation initiative under threat.
By imposing a new way of doing things, you run the risk of communicating that whatever your team has been doing up to this point no longer makes sense, that it is not worthwhile anymore.
This would come across as a direct attack on their personality. What you essentially do here is take away the Teddy Bear from their lives.
People Don’t Resist Change. They Resist Being Changed
Change management is about helping people adopt change on both an emotional and psychological level. Most commonly, we change because of how we feel, rather than because of what we think.
People don’t resist change. They resist being changed! — Peter Senge
When faced with a decision, most of the time, how we feel about the matter determines our final choice. The data and analysis will frequently narrow down the choices, but at the end of the day, we choose to change (or not to change) based on how we feel about it.
As a manager, your decisions can’t be effective if others aren’t following them. And others will (or will not) follow based upon how they feel about what you’re proposing to them. It’s as simple as that.
The process of change management is very different from the process of project management. One of the qualities that the most successful leaders have is their ability to put themselves in their workers’ shoes, in order to better understand how change impacts their individuality.
So, how can we work around the resistance to change? How can we make sure that our transformation initiative succeeds when we introduce the new approach to probabilistic forecasting?
Introducing Probabilistic Forecasting
When you introduce the probabilistic forecasting method, you’ll naturally meet resistance. You’re calling the way things have happened so far into question (even though they have been a major source of inefficiency and unreliability).
To smooth the transition, what you need to do is to keep the Teddy Bear (estimation). Let everyone keep making estimates, and introduce the probabilistic forecasting method in parallel.
At the end of the day, it takes just a couple of minutes to come up with a delivery prediction. The results that it produces will be just as good (or even better) with much less time and effort spent.
Keep both of the approaches in parallel, and regularly reevaluate your forecasts. Report the results and let your team see (on their own) which approach is more reliable.
People need to understand that this method is actually a better one, in order to develop trust in it. The numbers will provide the evidence and at some point, it will become obvious which one provides the most accurate results.
Even though the Teddy Bear might not be useful anymore, it needs to stay there until the new toy replaces it naturally. The most important thing to always keep in mind is that change will not occur by forcing it, it occurs because people feel that they don’t need the Teddy Bear anymore.
That’s the smartest approach to introducing probabilistic forecasting without resistance and allowing for reliable delivery predictions, without wasting time and effort.
Meet the Author
Sonya Siderova is a passionate product manager and a driving force behind Nave, a Kanban analytics suite that helps teams improve their delivery speed through data-driven decision making. When she's not catering to her two little ones, you might find Sonya absorbed in a good heavyweight boxing match or behind a screen crafting a new blog post.