Josh Diehl

Everybody Likes Progress, but Nobody Likes Change

As Kindling3 started to take shape in our minds and then in code over the last few months, I’ve been excited about what it means for the existing customers of Kindling. There are a number of compelling new features, many of which directly originated from customer feedback. So we are anxious to get our current customers the increased power and flexibility offered by our latest creation.

But just as importantly in our minds has been the impact that change will have on these existing users of the software. Many aspects of Kindling remain the same, it still revolves around ideas and gives administrators and moderators the ability to create and manage their organization's innovation program. But there is enough change we wanted to think carefully about how to manage it.

As we were contemplating this conflict between progress and change, 37signals announced the new version of their web-delivered software Basecamp. Unlike previous releases, they chose to launch the new version alongside 'Basecamp Classic', giving their customers the choice of when to migrate. Founder Jason Fried wrote of this unconventional decision that he doesn't "think people are afraid of change ... They're afraid of change that's forced upon them".

I think there’s only one fair way to introduce significant change like this: Let people choose change. I don’t think people are afraid of change, as a concept. They’re afraid of change that’s forced upon them.

-Jason Fried, Founder, 37signals

This hit us at just the right time, and validated the approach we were planning to take with our customers.

With this week's launch of Kindling3, existing Kindling customers will notice no change to their account. This approach gives us the opportunity to introduce each of our current clients to the new design and concepts of Kindling3. The Kindling Services team, which was created last year to handle exactly these types of needs, will be working hard to make sure that the transition goes as smoothly as possible for each customer.

We will be offering training sessions, documentation, and throw-away trial instances to give customers the support they need to make a smooth upgrade. Following this period of getting accustomed, customers will control the date of their upgrade to Kindling3. We'll be working to schedule each customer's upgrade in the next 90 days, after which we will retire the older product. Customers who are eager to take advantage of Kindling's new features will be able to move sooner, while those needing time to transition can choose their own pace.

We’re excited about getting Kindling3 out the door and into people’s hands, but we’re also hard at work making sure the upgrade is a smooth one for our existing customers. The apparent conflict turns out to not be a conflict at all, people embrace change - that they control.

Addendum - just today our CEO Tim was having lunch with his son, and texted me this picture of the fortune from his son's fortune cookie. I think it sums up this post nicely.

Change, on Flickr