2017 Mar 15

Because my failure, is your success.

Throughout my years in Operations, I’ve learned some lessons on how to unsuccessfully introduce a new process or tool. Conversely, this means I’ve learned a thing or two on how to make a new process stick. If you’re looking for ways to avoid being a huge failure like me, DO NOT do the following when trying to roll out a new process within your organization:

1. Change things up just for fun! 

People like routine. If something isn’t broken, leave it alone. However, if you have identified a problem that an already existing process or tool has not solved, then you are on the right track to creating something new. The key here is to have a clearly defined purpose behind the new process. You need to be able to answer the question, what problem is it trying to solve?

2. Willy nilly assign random people to play around with it and hope it will catch on over time!

Although early adopters tend to become power users of something new and shiny, without a proper champion or enforcer, the initial excitement will die down. Ownership over the roll out, maintenance, enforcement and documentation around the new process is key. You need a task force (even if that task force is just one person) who will be the champion of this new system and groom it so it stays current and reliable. Old habits die hard and without someone constantly reinforcing it for a little while, it’s possible people will abandon it and fall back into their old ways. 

3. Forget about permissions and role definition…let people do what feels comfortable for them.

The thing about a great process is that it has a clearly defined workflow which involves necessary steps to follow, who is following these steps and how. Ensuring a clear workflow creates alignment internally…everyone understands their role and that of their coworkers. 

4. Before ever having discussed it at all, surprise everyone by telling them they have to start working in a new way.

I don’t know about you, but I work with some really smart and creative thinkers. If I just told them how all of our problems will be solved, a) I would be wasting their talents and b) I may run the risk of undermining them by assuming they didn’t have any better ideas themselves. Buy-in from your team is extremely important. Not to say you need to survey the entire company anytime you want to implement something new, but talking it through with those affected the most is generally a good idea. 

5. Make sure you have the latest and greatest of all the tools out there even if they serve many of the same functions.

The minute we start using a new process or tool that does some of the same things that another process or tool does, it causes confusion which leads to lack of trust, which ultimately leads to disengagement. We are strong believers that there is no such thing as one-tool-to-rule-them-all, which means we use a lot of different tools for different purposes. However, it’s important to identify overlap (because there will be overlap) and then to decide which tool or process does what over the others. 

6. Tell everyone you are launching an official new process and it is set in stone FOREVER! Buy t-shirts even! 

Here at Industrial, we follow the principals of agile. This means we TRY new things, we reflect on those new things and we adjust them if they aren’t working for us. I find it’s a lot more difficult to get someone to buy into your new process when you tell them it’s forever. Permanence is scary…ease people in by saying we’re just going to try this out to see how it goes and if it doesn’t work, we’ll try something else (people love that).

In a follow up post, I will speak more on the suite of tools we use, workflows behind them, overlapping uses and problems we're still trying to solve!