Over the Thanksgiving holiday I found myself in a gift shop chock-full of unique and interesting items. One sign (that was for sale) struck an immediate chord with me because it’s right on target with the business issues I often encounter when helping organizations adopt BPM programs. The sign said simply:
Throughout 2011, my colleague Claire Schooley and I have published research that focuses on change management — what methodologies and best practices to use, how to organize for change management, and pitfalls to avoid. But the “you go first” part of the sign grabbed my attention — it’s a great point. And to be honest, I haven’t seen a data-driven body of research about the pros and cons of going first in initiatives involving substantial change. If you know of something, we’d love to hear about it. Just add a comment to this post.
Probably everyone can think of the reasons why you shouldn’t go first:
There’s the old saying “Pioneers get an arrow in their backs.”
It’s risky (see bullet point 1).
Prototypes, pilots, or early adoptions are often half-baked and you waste a lot of time experimenting.
Going first may mean that you don’t have time to adequately do your “day job.”
If you go last, you get the benefit of all the feedback from those poor guys who went first!