I helped a business friend work on a web site for one of his clients. We were making changes to their membership service site, a small dynamic site. Something that would take six to eight months. At first the experience was a huge mess. There was a VP of a department, named Jack, who inserted himself into every piece of the new website. At first we thought he was in charge in some way or had the power to call the shots. He ended up derailing the project for two months. Here is why.

They had a list of over 300 changes that needed to be done to the site. They were changes that came from Support, Sales, and Management. They were all changes that would make the user experience better or add a new feature. Changes to keep their service relevant.

Jack didn’t see the need to create a better user experience if there was already a way around it. He didn’t want us to redesign features to make them easier to understand if they already worked. He would say “Look, all you have to do is this.” He would then go through several screens and a pile of clicks. “See, easy. It’s all in the documentation. If Sales and Support would just do their job, this wouldn’t be a problem.”

So for every step forward Jack would throw a temper tantrum and we would take two steps back. He fought every change and every improvement. He would constantly complain that everyone was trying to make all these crazy changes to the website that were unnecessary.  He would say he needed to be the Anchor to keep everyone grounded. The more the company tried to move forward the more he dug in to keep everyone from moving.

Finally after a nasty email from that VP, my business friend forwarded it to the owner. A few days later we were informed that that VP was no longer part of the web site project and all emails from him should be forwarded and ignored. They appointed someone else to head up the project.

Jack saw updating the web site as a was of time and resources. The company was losing subscribers because the service was dated and not very user friendly. Jack blamed Sales and Support for the lose of subscribers. He wanted Sales to work harder and sell more. To learn the product. He wanted Support to do a better job of educating and training the subscribers. Which wasn’t wrong of him to want that. Sales should know the product inside and out. Support should do everything they can to train and educate the subscribers. But Jack didn’t see that the company was trying to sell a dated product. It was like trying to sell a brand new computer built in 2004 for the same price as the latest model.

Jack resisted change. He saw that the system worked at one point, so it should still work. We actually found out later that Jack designed the service and had a big hand in developing it. It was his baby. He didn’t think there was any thing wrong with the service. How could there be? He designed it. It was perfect. [/end sarcasm].

If you are having issues moving forward, ask yourself (and others) a few questions.

  • Am I afraid of change because I don’t want to give up what I created?
  • If we did it a different way will it help our customers use our product better?
  • Will making this change help the company save money in the long run?
  • Am I resisting change because I’m afraid I will fail?
  • Am I against the change because it wasn’t my idea or its better than my idea?

If the answer is “yes” to any of the questions, its time to stop making excuses, set your ego aside and move forward. If not you will be left behind.

Don’t be the Anchor and try to hold your company in place. Be the Captain and lead your company to a better place!