Trust the founding fathers, plan for change

Today was a great day. After scrambling to clean the house, we had a BBQ to celebrate the 4th of July (US Independence Day). Now that things are winding down, I’ve been reflecting on the founding of this nation, and most importantly the legacy of the founding fathers, the US Constitution.

I find a lesson for project managers in Article V of the constitution:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.

It’s fascinating to me that the founding fathers could have been more arrogant when they were drafting the constitution. They could have believed that their choices for a fledgling nation were the absolute correct path, but they didn’t. I believe they recognized that change is a fact of life.

As the constitution can be amended/modified when there is a compelling need, we need to make sure our projects are ready to adapt to change. No matter how much risk planning and mitigation you do, something will throw your plan off. Just like in Article V, we need to make sure we have a change management plan that can be followed. No questions, no deviation. If the project has to change to adapt, we need to follow the change management process to ensure the change is documented and evaluated, correct stakeholders and sponsors are involved, and all decisions are clearly captured and communicated.

Do you have a change management process in place? If not, check out “Change Management Process” at Wikipedia for a great start. It focuses on a core set of activities that are critical for change management:

  • Identify potential change
  • Analyze change request
  • Evaluate change
  • Plan change
  • Implement change
  • Review and close change

You’ll want to scale the actual plan to match the size of your project and your overall needs, but this should be a great start…