Data Science: Applying Change

Hello! My name is Albert Um and I was a plant manager for a few years before I pursued data science (DS).

During my time on the plant floor, I was often confronted with new approaches for quality control or some different management techniques. I was personally someone who was against change. However, over the past years, I learned to accept the fact that there will always be change and that it’s not so bad.

I recently enrolled into Flatiron’s Data Science Boot Camp, located in NYC(FiDi) and today marks the end of my third week. It’s been a good experience so far.

One of the students, shout out to Eryk Wdowiak, posted this on our group chat when we were covering SQL:

If I’m not mistaken, Eryk’s post was supposed to be satirical. My initial thought was, “Wow, that’s kind of overkill and ridiculous.” I found it odd to promote SQL for anything else but data retrieval.

However as I pondered more about this ad, I came to reason that there is a demand for such material. Why else would they advertise? In a more hypothetical sense, there could be people(knowing only SQL) who are interested because their workplace requires linear regression(LinReg).

For example, if I only knew SQL and was able to create a LinReg model in it; then why would I learn other languages? What would influence me to change?

I believe people are innately against change. Change is uncomfortable and people tend to go back to traditions, the way things are.

As project managers and data scientists, we will have new ideas which we believe will make things better. However, it’s common for new ideas to be stomped by negativity or met with passive approval but no change. I believe this hurdle will be more common than not.

There’s a good book that covers implementing change and I highly recommend everyone to read.

Leading Change by Dr. John P. Kotter

He describes his Eight-Stage Process for institutions to change. These steps are sequential and need to be followed in order or else it might feel unnatural or forced.

1. Create a Sense of Urgency

It’s nice to feel comfortable and where there is change, there is pain. Without a sense of urgency, people will avoid change all together and be satisfied with where they are now. People who are complacent, acknowledge some faults but they don’t think it’s too bad. Allowing too much complacency can halt change.

2. Creating the Guiding Coalition

You’ll need the support of key managers and executives. This group goes past just the CEO but everyone or anyone that has influence. This part sounds like power game in corporate politics and it’s exactly that. Weak committees are less effective. If you can’t create a group, you need to choose a side that will agree with your new change and recruit as many people for that cause.

3. Developing a Vision and Strategy

Too often, a new change movement confuses a vision for a plan. A plan is usually in instruction format with pages and pages of training on how to implement change. Don’t create a plan, but develop a concise vision statement. A good rule of thumb is if you can’t describe the vision/strategy in under 5 minutes, you’re in trouble. A clear vision is needed for change.

4. Communicating the Change Vision

Communication is essential when introducing new change. You’ll need people to have meetings about change for you. You can set up many meetings alone but it won’t be as effective as when other people are creating their own meetings about your change. For example, a CEO can make speeches but if her managers are silent, then there’s not enough communication. Don’t underestimate the need for communication.

Steps 5–8 are techniques that upper management can use to implement change and sustain it. These techniques include narrowing job categories, giving compensations, exalt short term gains, avoiding premature victories, and implementing a change culture to be the norm.

5. Enable Action by Removing Barriers

6. Generating Short-Term Wins

7. Consolidating Gains and Producing More Change

8. Anchoring New Approaches in the Culture

Conclusion

The incentive to change goes far past the reason: “because it’s better”. It’s common for your organization to be against your great new idea. If that’s the case, it might be because the environment is not ready for change.

One of the biggest and quickest change that all of us have seen is the WFH(work from home) transition. Corporations were able to implement remote working before Coronavirus. However, just because they were able to, didn’t equate to pursuing such transformation. The pandemic created an immense urgency to change. Workplaces adjusted to remote working in lightning speed.

I’m not saying that you need to re-instate another pandemic so your corporation can use your linear regression model. But to take some time to think about how you can influence change amidst your current environment.

Source: https://www.kotterinc.com/8-steps-process-for-leading-change/ https://www.amazon.com/Leading-Change-New-Preface-Author/dp/1422186431

Hello! My name is Albert Um.