• Are you switching from your old architecture to a new elegant sophisticated promising one?
  • Are you moving from an inconsistent non-scalable UI to a design system based UI?
  • Are you swapping an old deprecated module with a brand new fresh one?
  • Are you migrating from an old fashion document-less backend to a new shining cutting-edge one?

So you’re in an awkward phase. Aren’t you?

“Awkward phase” is the name I use to refer to the transition phase from a state to a better one. It’s awkward because you’re not in a stable state. You’re neither in the source state nor in the destination state. You neither benefit from being in the state you’re familiar with nor benefit from the advantages that the better state provides. You still suffer from the flaws of the first state while you need to concentrate on how you can get to the better state without messing up. Your cognitive load (Cognitive load - Wikipedia) is two times more than before.

We all were there at least a couple of times. We get excited for the bright stress-free future that the new state (new architecture, UI, module, backend) promises and are thrilled that we will be able to get rid of the old frustrating dead-end hard-to-maintain state (old architecture, UI, module, backend).

But the path gets us there is dark and dangerous. We should not stop. We’ve got to run. We can not pause, deprioritize or abandon it once we start it. We can not just stand somewhere between. We should remember the transition phase is awkward. We have to maintain two documentation, two pieces of code, two sources of bugs, two solutions, two explanations, two sets of edge cases, … cognitive load x 2.

Before entering into an awkward phase, make a plan, know exactly how you want to go to the new state, what risks you may face, what you need to have and what you need to do, then take your breath and run. In case you change your mind, don’t stop, don’t pause, don’t slow down. Come back to the previous state. Clean your footprint. Roll back to the old state. Don’t make people confused about what state you’re in. Being in a bad state sometime is better than being in the awkward phase. Although minimizing cognitive load is always better.