Change: “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.”

This content is syndicated from LeanAgileTraining by Joe Little. To view the original post in full, click here.

This is a quote by Wayne Gretzky.
I am flying to Canada now. And I like hockey.

Today the quote reminds me of how hard change is.

To make any change happen in an organization is hard.  Takes a lot of energy.  Takes a willingness to miss a shot, to make a mistake, as Gretzky says.  That takes guts.  Most people don’t have guts for things they don’t really really care about.

Why is it so hard?

First, I think organizations are mainly there to remain ‘static’.  A company is there to preserve the situation.  Yes, yes, of course any corporation is building things or providing services for its customers.  So, a kind of change is happening all the time.

But the main idea of the corporation is to assure that the basics are there every day.  Regular, unchanging.  The building is there, its warm (or cool), the lights are on, the processes are known, you know who to go to, etc, etc.  The same.  Every day.  Despite all the other things in the world that are changing.

And people want that.  They need that stability.

Second.  While people actually like some change, some degree of variety, still…

Still they don’t want to be changed.  They don’t want to be the helpless pawn of some brilliant change that I (the great and wonderful Oz) am bringing them.  No one wants to be a helpless pawn.

Also, there is too much change these days.  People are tired of it.  Why was everything stupid yesterday, and today, again for the 1000th time, we must change everything?  Too much (damn) change!  Stop it!

And you can feel this yourself, and see that it ties back also to that helplessness.

Still, people like change, they believe in improving their situation.  So, if you can tie your idea to that inner feeling of progress, then they will want the change.  Want it, at least to some degree.

Third, politics.

By this I mean the messiness of dealing with people in groups.  The hierarchy, the power, the games. So, with any change, we must ‘play politics’ to some degree. Very bothersome for most of us.

So, where am I going with this?

To this idea: That one must be very motivated if one is going to start to make a significant change in a company (or any organization).  Very motivated.  Otherwise, one is easily stopped by all the barriers to change.

Kotter calls this motivation a sense of urgency.

I recently had an in-house class.  And I was teaching them Scrum.

And most in this class found some aspects of it ‘impossible’.  Meaning, that most of them did not think they could get the culture in their company to change that much.

My initial reaction was an inner anger (not shown outwardly).  Anger that they in effect wanted me to change Scrum.  Anger that these very talented people would let so much potentially good change go by, ‘merely’ because they thought that such as change was ‘impossible’.  I say this in part because I know that people — less talented than these people are — have made this kind of change happen. And against odds equally as great.

But, looking back, anger is not good. And also not appropriate.  They don’t owe it to me to change.  And my getting angry that they can’t see the benefits and push through to get them, for themselves, my being angry about that, well, it is sweet and all, that I want them to have a better life, but also kind of silly.

Now, later I am reading Fearless Change by Mary Lynn Manns and Linda Rising.  One of the change patterns in the book is Personal Touch.  I start reading that pattern.


I got two big flashes of insight.

First, most of the people in that group do not value the change in the way I do.  And they have no reason to.  They had no experience of its real success.  To them, it was just ‘Joe talking’ — maybe sounds good, but no inner conviction yet.

Secondly, every one is different.  One has to explain the change to each person, slowly, and help them come to see that it will benefit them (or even, that it has benefited them).

So, once you have helped someone care enough, gotten through to them in some unique way, then you will see someone who will make change happen.

Someone who will take many shots, and happily miss many.  Knowing that eventually they will win the game.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

four − 1 =

There are 101 ways to do anything.
To find the best way, sometimes you need expert help

What People Say

“Kelly revolutionised the way our digital department operated. A true advocate of agile principles, he quickly improved internal communication within our teams and our internal clients by aligning our business and creating a much enhanced sense of transparency in the decisions the business was making. Kelly also introduced a higher sense of empowerment to the development teams...”


“Kelly came to the department and has really made a huge impact on how the department communicates, collaborates and generally gets things done. We were already developing in an agile way, but Kelly has brought us even more into alignment with agile and scrum best practices, being eager to share information and willing to work with us to change our processes rather than dictate how things must be done. He is highly knowledgable about agile development (as his active blog proves) but his blog won't show what a friendly and knowledgeable guy he is. I highly recommend Kelly to anyone looking for a CTO or a seminar on agile/scrum practices - you won't be disappointed!”


“Kelly was a brilliant CTO and a great support to me in the time we worked together. I owe Kelly a great deal in terms of direction and how to get things done under sometimes difficult circumstances. Thanks Kelly.”


“Kelly’s a leading program director with the ability to take charge from day one and keep strong momentum at both a program and project level driving prioritisation, resourcing and budgeting agendas. Kelly operates with an easy-going style and possesses a strong facilitation skill set. From my 5 months experience working with Kelly, I would recommend Kelly to program manage large scale, complex, cross company change programs both from a business and IT perspective.”


“I worked with Kelly whilst at Thoughtworks and found him to be a most inspiring individual, his common-sense approach coupled with a deep understanding of Agile and business makes him an invaluable asset to any organisation. I can't recommend Kelly enough.”


“Kelly was engaged as a Program Director on a complex business and technology transformation program for Suncorp Commercial Insurance. Kelly drew on his key capabilities and depth of experience to bring together disparate parties in a harmonised way, ensuring the initiate and concept phases of the program were understood and well formulated. Excellent outcome in a very short time frame. ”


“Kelly and I worked together on a very large project trying to secure a new Insurer client. Kelly had fantastic commercial awareness as well as his technical expertise. Without him I would never had secured this client so I owe a lot to him. He is also a really great guy!”


“Kelly is an Agile heavy-weight. He came in to assess my multi-million $ Agile development program which wasn’t delivering the right throughput. He interviewed most of the team and made some key recommendations that, when implemented, showed immediate results. I couldn’t ask for more than that except he’s a really nice guy as well.”


“I worked with Kelly on many projects at IPC and I was always impressed with his approach to all of them, always ensuring the most commercially viable route was taken. He is great at managing relationships and it was always a pleasure working with him.”


“Kelly is an extremely talented and visionary leader. As such he manages to inspire all around him to achieve their best. He is passionate about agile and has a wealth of experience to bring to bear in this area. If you're 'lucky' he might even tell you all about his agile blog. Above all this, Kelly is great fun to work with. He is always relaxed and never gets stressed - and trust me, he had plenty of opportunity here! If you get the chance to work with Kelly, don't pass it up.”


“Kelly was a great colleague to work with - highly competent, trustworthy and generally a nice bloke.”



To explore how we can help you, please get in touch