I don’t know what it is about people, but we love fads. Throughout history we have fad after fad. I’m not just talking about the 20th century, I’m talking about for the extent of human history. When a fad hits, everyone is into it. Right now everyone seems to be eating kale. All startups are lean. If your app isn’t fully mobile, well you’re behind the times. But…it can all be too much. You can easy go from “hey, I’m going to try having green smoothies at home” or “I think I’ll go for a jog” to being a little crazed about them. Same with anything at work as well. You can fully embrace a new process or app or idea so you can decide if it works and you can lose the point of it being an experiment in the first place.
You have to give things a fair shake
In her book Working Smarter with Evernote Alexandra Samuel writes that in order to decide if Evernote is right for you, you need to use it, really use it, for about three weeks to decide if it’s for you or not. Some things like the Agile/Scrum development process need more time to see if they are a help or a hindrance, but the idea is the same—If you’re trying something new you need to give it a chance. A new pair of shoes need breaking in. Habits need time to set (about two weeks). So part of not going overboard is setting a realistic timeframe to evaluate the changes you’re making. Evaluate and stick to doing it.
Before you plan to re-engineer your entire team to using Agile or switching all employees to tablets from laptops, you need to get through the evaluation period and not jump to conclusions. Sure people might love the portability of using an iPad for everything, until they need to juggle and manage files. If there is one thing that iPads don’t handle very well it’s managing files. In the first couple weeks people might not come across the need for handling files, but they certainly will within a month. You need to let the entire trial period finish before deciding one way or another.
It’s an experiment: what are you testing?
Remember when you’re giving the whatever a fair shake it’s really an experiment. Will Evernote help me keep better track of notes and interesting articles? Will Trello help me manage projects better? Is Agile a better way for developers to work? That’s the question. What’s the answer? Like in science class when you have a hypothesis, you have tests to determine if it’s true or false. That’s what you’re doing, you need to keep in mind that after the trial period you circle back and ask if your hypothesis was true or not. Is Agile working? Do you like Trello or would Asana be better?
It’s not forever
This is the final piece that helps you keep from going overboard, you remind yourself that what you’re doing isn’t forever. You’re not committing to only using Evernote for the rest of your life or if something better than Agile methodology emerges you can’t switch to it. You’re trying this for a period of time to see if it works. If it doesn’t, you drop it. If it does you see if it works for other people or groups (if that makes sense—not everyone likes Evernote and some people find Asana better than Trello for managing projects).
Just because something has caught your eye and you think it’s awesome, doesn’t mean that the shine won’t wear off soon or that it might be too good to be true. You can go all in for a time to really understand something and then you can go overboard. One gets answers, the other gets distracted.