My friend Wendy remade herself a few years ago. Facing a number of intra- and inter-personal struggles in her life, she announced Wendy 3.0, a new operating system aimed at identifying and fixing her “wetware.” (My personal favorite new feature: “Decreased number of cycles wasted on worrying about what other applications are processing.” If only that were compatible with my personal OS.)This year I attended her birthday party, aka the “release party” for the latest point version of her personal OS (4.3). Since she first announced 3.0, she’s remade herself, from changing jobs to buying a new (and very nice) couch. Her “Master Plan” has come together well.But we also know that “Master Plans” do not work for designing ourselves. We announce our Master Plan to Lose 40 Pounds, only to be face down in the Potato Salad Of Failure eight weeks later. We declare that This Is The Year We Will Quit Smoking, and by March we’re back to burning our lives away. Changes are a struggle for us to make.One thing Wendy did was investigate different ways to patch her problems. An introvert by nature, she chose to engage with people in new and different ways – and discovered that as an introvert, she needs downtime. Her changes were small. But the small changes, combined with the insight that comes from retrospective, resulted in a large transformation.The scientific evidence shows that small changes lead, over time, to large transformations. One study found that a “small changes” diet plan led to greater weight loss among participants than those on a standard plan – and that weight loss was sustained after the study ended. Even just taking care of the little issues makes a difference – A 2013 case study showed that dealing with the “small, annoying problems” improved quality of care in a hospital ward.For myself, I have struggled with getting over my haters. Years of being constantly bullied in school left me super-defensive, prickly, and hard to get to know. Changing all that has meant fighting 42 years of bad internal programming. You're trying to patch your wetware, but a single change is like internationalizing an pre-existing, unabstracted codebase – thousands of spots where you'll need to rip out code and replace it, and in every place it still exists contravenes your instructions to not do it that way.But the small changes seem to work. When someone says something that would raise my hackles, I ask first if they actually meant anything by it. When someone compliments me, I try to say “thank you” instead of bracing for the put-down that once always followed.Isn’t it odd how the things we tell ourselves about life – make small changes, experiment, fail quickly – are the same things we tell ourselves we need to do as developers and designers? And yet, so often we fight it in code. We want well-laid plans. We want waterfall. We want The Plan.But it’s small changes that, piled one on top of another, allow us to climb towards transformation.