How Not To Shoot Yourself in the Foot with Change Control

As anyone with experience in a large firm knows, change control procedures (and “change control boards”) are a common fixture. Change control mechanisms (such as requiring extensive documentation, signatures, meetings, checklists, approvals, etc.) have obvious benefits, but they also add inertia, increasing the cost of change. This refers to both dollar costs (meetings aren’t free), and to inaction by employees who find it not worth the effort to a desirable change approved. The net result can be that bad procedures, features, documents, etc. stay in place, to the detriment of the organization.

Thus, I will frame Kyle’s Guideline on Change Control:

The “weight” of your change control system should be, at most, proportional to how good your product / processes are. If things are really bad, fix them *first*, while it’s easy, and then *after* that add in the obstacles to change.

Unfortunately, this ubiquitous alternative procedure:

  1. Notice things are bad.
  2. Add change control mechanisms that make it hard to fix them.
  3. Avoid changing the things that are bad.

is actively stupid. (Of course, maybe your problem is that things change too much… in that case, the first thing to change, is to make it harder to change.)