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How To Approach Change: The Big Cut or The Soft Transition
Choose one of two approaches for changing organizations
As a product manager or as a leader, there often comes a time when change becomes necessary. This change can manifest in the form of structural adjustments, process improvements, or behavioral shifts. I found that there are basically only two primary approaches to address it effectively. In this article, I will explore these two approaches: the Big Cut and the Soft Transition, discussing their applicability and potential outcomes.
The Big Cut: Prompt and Decisive Action
In certain circumstances, change is urgently required to mitigate risks to the company or product, such as revenue decline or customer attrition. When faced with such pressing challenges, the Big Cut approach becomes indispensable. This method entails the following steps:
Formation of a small group tasked with preparing the change.
Presentation of the proposed change to the entire team or company.
Welcoming questions and clarifications, while refraining from making further adjustments to the change.
Implementation of the changes on a specified date.
The Big Cut is a top-down approach that acknowledges the potential loss of team members during the process. While it may seem drastic, this approach allows for quick and decisive action, ensuring immediate responses to critical issues that threaten the company or product.
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The Soft Transition: Flexibility and Collaborative Evolution
Alternatively, when change is desirable but not immediately imperative, the Soft Transition approach offers a more adaptable and collaborative process. This method is suitable for scenarios where the team demonstrates an open mindset toward change. The Soft Transition involves the following stages:
Presentation of the problem to raise awareness among team members.
Encouraging the involvement of interested individuals to gather diverse opinions and insights.
Facilitating numerous conversations, either publicly or privately, about the intended goal and its implications.
Implementing changes incrementally, step by step.
Unlike the Big Cut, the Soft Transition acknowledges that change is a gradual process. While it may also result in the departure of some team members, the number is considerably lower compared to the Big Cut approach.
Choosing the Right Approach
Determining the appropriate approach hinges on the urgency of action and the prevailing mindset within the team. If time permits and the majority of team members exhibit a willingness to embrace change, the Soft Transition proves to be an effective strategy. It allows for a smoother transformation, fostering collaboration and reducing potential resistance.
Conversely, if immediate action is imperative and a significant portion of the team remains resistant to change, the Big Cut becomes a necessary course of action.
What I read
This is separate section of this newsletter. I will list some of the best articles I read on the internet. They may or may not be related to the topic of this article. I will keep a list of the best articles (currently >700) at https://www.digital-product-management.com. These are today’s picks:
Modelling a Product Metrics Dashboard: How to setup reporting intervals, choose visualizations & thoughts on analytics tools.
What do product teams do? A (rather) complete overview of product management. Good starter.
Turning your insights into unique frameworks. How to turn your ideas into frameworks and visualize them.