Most business projects come at one stage or another to a point where people feel, “and now, what?”.

With every new tool or changed process comes a phase of learning. Remember the first time you sat in a car behind the driver’s wheel and the instructor told you, “let’s get the car on the road.” That was scary for me. It was in the middle of town just after school and the car was a manual one! I had to learn how to use a clutch, shifting gears, how much pressure on the gas and how much on the brakes. I was sweating, the traffic light turned red then green and I stalled the car – twice. And now, what?

The organisation I worked for years ago introduced email in the mid 90’s. We (in IT) had been playing with the system for weeks. One guy in particular had been working on the set up on a daily basis. One morning he came to me saying,

“Frank, I’ve got no idea how this is going to work for everybody. Once it is deployed we can now sent an email to everybody in the organisation.”

“Okay”, I said, “isn’t that what people have asked for?”

“Of course,” he answered, “but what do we tell them when to use email, when to use the phone, or even go and visit the other person?”

You can see where I’m going. There are moments when the current thinking doesn’t fit any more. The new process disrupts the status quo and adds a new element. Now you need to go back to the why question. Why did we (or I for that matter) start the project? What is it that makes us go through this problem? When you can answer this question – excellent! And when your audience has the same answer even better! Now they can help you with the dilemma at hand. And probably challenge the thinking “But what do we tell people?”

What makes us using email? It’s easy, we are already on the computer so we don’t need to switch tools. Also, there is an audit record, the recipient does not to be there when I write it, and there could be multiple recipients at the same time.
When is email not adequate? You need an answer straight away, you need to discuss ideas, you want to explain the concept more interactively, or the written word may be misunderstood.

When was the last time this has been explained to you or a new staff member – if ever? Exactly, it hasn’t happened.

And that is the core problem. It is going back to the reason why. Once you know, you can either figure out yourself when to use the appropriate tool or you can understand the organisational policy, procedure or work instruction for it.

Back at my traffic light, the instructor can either yell at me, take control, or explain briefly how the clutch works and why it is important to let it come slowly. That’s what he did and we got going again.

By the way, has somebody explained Twitter to you or in your organisation?

One comment on “Epiphany

  1. […] can see this as an opportunity – and I know that is hard – an opportunity to make this a supreme moment. A moment where you recognise that something went wrong because of a reason. A reason that you can […]

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