We Don’t Need Deep Science to Implement Change

While depositing Philippine coins at the bank one morning, I couldn’t figure out which was which.  The 1-peso coin looked like the 5-peso coin which also looked like the 10-peso coin.  Each coin was silver in colour and almost the same size.  I also had older and much more different 5-peso and 10-peso coins to count and segregate, and it just added to the confusion. 

The bank’s counting machine also kept stalling with the Philippine peso bills the teller fed into it.  The machine couldn’t distinguish the new bills from the old bills.  The teller had to take out the new bills and count them separately. 

I was also hearing complaints that the banks’ automated cash machines weren’t accepting peso deposits.  The machines too couldn’t distinguish between new and old bills.  The machines kept getting stuck and shut down.  Stores at malls couldn’t deposit their collections after bank hours.  This was a hassle as owners would have to wait for the bank to open in the morning and line up to deposit their previous day’s cash collections.  Worse, they would have to keep the cash at home on weekends and holidays when the banks were closed. 

The Philippines’ monetary authority, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, had been rolling out new cash notes since the late 1990’s.  The BSP had been replacing the bills and coins with “new generation” currencies, that is, cash notes and coins that had better security features and that were cheaper to procure. 

The BSP didn’t take into account the size of the coins and the impact of the new bills on cash machines and bill counters.  Consumers couldn’t tell one coin from another and cash machines rejected the new bills.  The BSP, however, brushed aside the criticism and urged the public to just get accustomed to the new currency. 

There’s a proverb that says the only constant in life is change.  Most of us know that.  But can’t people make changes that do less harm than good? 

Changing currencies to improve security has some logic to it, but couldn’t the BSP at least design the coins to be easily distinguishable?  Couldn’t the BSP work with the banks to adapt new cash notes to counting and automated teller machines? 

Why ask ordinary people to get “accustomed?”  Shouldn’t products be easy to use right away or with least instruction at the shortest time? 

One does not need be a scientist to implement change.  The principles are elementary:

  1. Get feedback about any upcoming change from stakeholders, i.e., the people who will feel the impact, e.g., customers & vendors
  2. Test any new product not only with end-users but also with the machines and processes that the change will have effects on;
  3. Make sure the resources and assets are all in place when the changes begin;
  4. Keep track of the change, how it’s performing, and how well stakeholders are accepting it;
  5. Tweak as needed, revise if necessary: software developers release new improved versions of apps all the time, so why not for products too?
  6. Learn to accept failure or defeat—better to admit setbacks as soon as possible to avoid further damaging stakeholder relationships.

In other words, put what the stakeholders value first when it comes to change. 

People don’t like change for the anxieties they bring.  People will welcome change if they see outright the benefits outweighing the negatives.  There’s no deep science to it. 

We know this and we can get this. 

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