Rolling out processes in your company

Rolling out processes in your company

2021, Jun 17    

You have probably experienced this at some point in your career. Someone (usually at a senior position) decides that something can be improved and rolls out a new process by introducing it to the company and your team. It sometimes goes together with a “big announcement” in the common area of your office or in your “general” slack channel. The announcement sounds something like this:

“Management has decided that we will start using Confluence to document all our internal software tools.”

How does that feel when you hear it? You are probably feeling the urge to ask the very valid question “Why?”. That’s because announcements like these do two things - they don’t clarify the “why” and they don’t include you in the decision. They simply tell you what you need to do and how exactly you should be doing it. You probably feel a bit like a mouse in a lab being experimented on. Even if you ask questions for clarification’s sake, the decision has already been made so you can’t really change anything about it. And although it sounds like a very straightforward and fast way to change something in your company (top-down decision making) it actually takes much longer to do that. It creates compliance and what you want is commitment. Consider another approach.

“For several months now, we have noticed that we are creating a large number of our own software tools to help us in our daily work. It feels like we have reached a point where we need to be documenting how those tools work, otherwise, we will soon run into a problem where nobody knows how something is supposed to function or why it was created in the first place. [this part explains the problem]

Because of this, we decided to start documenting all our internal tools. We considered few different software applications for that and tested them, but we felt that Confluence meets our needs the best. [this part proposes a solution]

We know that this approach will take us more time than usual to do our daily work because apart from writing code, we will also need to be vigilant and write the documentation for that code. [this part describes what pitfalls we might run into and what to expect]

So we should be more patient with each other while doing this. [possible solutions for those pitfalls]

In a few months, we will check how the initiative is going and decide if we want to continue with it or change to some other solution.” [some deadline for when we can review this decision]

You can immediately see the “Why” which is a huge difference right away. The message is now much more clear because it shows why something is a problem and why it needs to be solved. But even now, you can still get into non-commitment mode, simply because the decision was already made. In order to get the maximum commitment from your company and team, consider this message:

“For several months now, we have noticed that we are creating a large number of our own software tools to help us in our daily work. It feels like we have reached a point where we need to be documenting how those tools work, otherwise, we will soon run into a problem where nobody knows how something is supposed to function or why it was created in the first place. [this part explains the problem]

Because of this, we decided to start documenting all our internal tools. We considered few different software applications for that and tested them, but we felt that Confluence meets our needs the best. [this part proposes a solution]

We know that this approach will take us more time than usual to do our daily work because apart from writing code, we will also need to be vigilant and write the documentation for that code. [this part describes what pitfalls we might run into and what to expect]

So we should be more patient with each other while doing this. [possible solutions for those pitfalls]

In a few months, we will check how the initiative is going and decide if we want to continue with it or change to some other solution. [some deadline for when we can review this decision]

Please ask clarifying questions and comment on the proposal with possible ways to improve it.” [invite others to be part of the decision]

The only difference is the last sentence. Apart from explaining why something is a problem and what solutions you propose, you also make an invitation for participation in the decision-making process. At first glance, this feels like it will take much longer, but in reality, the first approach, will drag the process for months and years, and even then, you might still not have a real commitment from everyone, but rather rely on compliance. This last approach creates a really strong commitment from everyone because everyone that is affected by the decision can actually steer the decision and improve upon it.

So describe your “Whys” and invite others to participate in the decisions.