Managing change

January 14, 2012

(This article was first published on mages' blog, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

Why the old and new the need to share time together

It takes time to appreciate the new. Even if the new is much better than the old. But, it is easy to forget when you yourself created the exciting new.

At the end of August 2011 Google announced a new Blogger interface. The new interface offered about the same functionality, but had a different look and feel. At first I was reluctant to use it. I just wanted to get my job done. I knew the old interface, so why disturbe me with something else which does just the same?

Old Blogger interface

I was relieved to see that there was a button, which allowed me to switch back to the old interface. I continued using the old interface, although occasionally Google would offer me the new interface after loggin into Blogger. Eventually I started to play around with the new interface. Probably when I was bored and was looking for a good excuse to waste my time. I started to like the new interface and used it more often. I stopped switching back to the old when Google presented me the new interface. It appeared cleaner, more contemporary and organised than the old. By now I have switched completely to the new interface. After a four months transition period!

New Blogger interface

There is something to be learned from this experience

Suppose you write analysis reports for others, e.g. colleagues, clients, friends, students, etc. and you have a new idea which will make your report so much better. Maybe a better structure, a new R package, a new plot, something really sophisticated. You are excited about this, you implement it and send your report out to your readers.

Then: No feedback.

Appreciating change takes time

So, the next time you have a great idea to improve your analysis report implement it. Just because it is so much fun and your are really excited about the new. However, continue to produce the old style report and send it out with the new. Hopefully your excitement will sparkle over to the reader. But acknowledge that not all of them will have time to embrace the new immediately. They read the report for a specific purpose, e.g. table X on page Y. Give your reader the space to find his own time to review the new report, eventually he will listen and hopefully switch. But do listen to the reader as well and value his feedback. Easier said than done.

There is another aspect to it. Sending out the new with the old allows you to fail. You have a safety net. Some of your ideas might actually be not that great after all. I believe we can only learn and succeed by experiencing lots of small failures.


  • Producing the old and the new at the same time is of course only possible if you have slick automated reporting system. People have posted plenty of ideas how to do this with R on R-Bloggers.
  • I wonder, what would have happened if the transition period between the old national coins and notes and the Euro would have been longer than two months in 2002?

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