If the Instructions Don’t Make Sense – Question Them!

A Lesson in Rollout Communication from the 2017 Oscars

The bungled announcement of the Best Picture winner at the 2017 Oscars is a reminder that even the best laid plans can go wrong.  The process failure that saw Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway receive the wrong envelope to announce the winner is always a possibility at such ceremonies, yet the debacle that ensued could – and should – have been avoided.

When you manage a multi-site technology rollout, you face similar process challenges to achieving a good outcome.  For example, in a technology rollout, the Work Order Packet (WOP) is the foundational document that contains the specific instructions for the work to be performed.  In that way, it serves the same purpose as the “winner’s card” that is handed to the announcer at the Oscars.

But what should you do when the WOP looks wrong?

#1. Ask Yourself, “Does it make sense?”

Before commencing any rollout deployment task, it’s always important that each person in the team asks themselves “does what I am about to do make sense?”  Or if you are the customer, you should request a copy of a WOP and review it.

Too often, a job goes wrong right at the beginning for the lack of asking a question.   Perhaps the Field Tech notices something wrong with the WOP but goes ahead and performs the work anyway.  This may be because they aren’t sure who to call and they don’t want to look bad, or perhaps the customer’s local point of contact (POC) is putting pressure on them to get started.  But what do you want them to do in that situation?

This problem can be avoided if the technology rollout company managing the project has a culture where team members are encouraged to question things when they don’t seem right.  Creating such a culture is easy to say, but is hard to do.  It starts with leadership, who must encourage people to speak up, continues through managers who must reinforce that message, and ends with the local technicians in the field.

When rollout team members are empowered to question their instructions, you have the best chance of catching an error before things go too far.  But assuming you catch the problem, what do you do next?

#2. If You See Something, Say Something

The answer is simple: it’s important to speak up.  Unfortunately, some technology rollout companies use communications structures that make it difficult to identify the right person to speak with.  When that happens, the risk of the mistake going uncorrected increases exponentially, as the structure discourages the Field Tech from asking questions.

By contrast, a good technology rollout company is in continuous contact with the Field Tech.  For these companies, it’s likely that the rollout company will realize the mistake before any work is done, or the Field Tech encounters an interpretation problem.  But even if they don’t, in this model, the Field Tech knows exactly who to contact with questions.

So to recap, using  a process structure that is designed to minimize the distance between the Field Tech and the answers they need, is the best way to address communications.

The Bottom-Line: You Must Know What to Do When a Process or Rollout Fails…

When your on-site rollout deployment hits an unexpected snag, instead of compounding the mistake as they did at the Oscars, you can quickly and reliably recover, if:

  • You employ a rollout methodology that encourages team members to ask “does it make sense?” and,
  • You use a formalized communications structure which monitors and enables the on-site Field Techs to know exactly who to go to with any question.

So, before you begin your next technology rollout, ask your rollout company how they handle process failures, such as problems with the WOP.

If you don’t like their answer, talk to us.  We’ll walk you through our methodologies, processes and training programs and, most importantly, our Values, which provide us with tools for how to manage through situations like this.