Implementing new ideas is not always easy. Sometimes we arrive with the best intentions at a new company and want to introduce many innovations, but we may come face-to-face with entrenched patterns within an organization. Even in organizations that we have led for some time, we might find resistance when we try to institute new practices.
Whether you wish to implement a company intranet, a new business process management system, or the use of objectives and key results in your company, you may face friction. This occurrence is normal, especially if it is not a solution to an existing problem but rather improvement. Having to learn a new tool or information system takes additional time on top of daily procedures.
Because this situation happens often, it helps to be prepared.
Make Sure You Need the Implementation
Sometimes we are tempted to implement new ideas or information systems mainly because they have worked well for others or because they seem to be ubiquitous. Still, those new concepts may not be compatible with your company. Make sure that the latest idea is needed, and it will likely have the positive outcome you foresee.
Design It Well
When you are planning the implementation, tailor it to your company and your needs, as every company is different. I also recommend giving people ample time to learn about the system or tool and developing a training plan.
Communication is Key
Before you start your implementation, let users know about the new project and how it will affect them. If the team is small enough, sharing the research and plans as they arise is a good idea. You can then obtain real-time feedback and implement an even better project. When you’re ready to launch your initiative, it’s always best to stay in close contact with the users to obtain ongoing feedback as necessary.
Often, there will be concerns. As the project implementor, you will be the one fielding those concerns. It’s also possible that you don’t hear any of the concerns, but you will notice if something is missing when you do not see the results you want. Make sure you provide channels for feedback, so people will let you know their thoughts.
If they have a valid concern or suggestion, I recommend making the necessary changes. People will feel heard and will be more likely to make suggestions in the future.
Iterate as Necessary
With the feedback you receive, make improvements. Rarely is an implementation 100% perfect once you have finished the project. Often, there will be modifications you can make to help it run better or to be more relevant to your users.
Once the implementation phase is over, and as you use the tool over time, you will likely learn even more. I recommend iterating as long as you have new ideas for improving your project.
It takes time for some projects to be absorbed within a company fully. When I first implemented our project management software, Wrike, to manage our processes and our projects, it took many months for people to utilize it fully. It represented a significant change in the way we managed our daily operations. People now had to handle tasks that others assigned to them, and they needed to update the tasks often. They were not accustomed to this mode of work, and as a result, it took longer than I expected.
The good news is that as new people entered the company, they quickly adapted to the system, and soon, everybody was using it.
Highlight Positive Outcomes
When someone is using a tool correctly, especially one that others have not learned as quickly, I like to highlight the achievement. In our monthly company-wide meetings, we publicly acknowledge positive examples of how people are using the tool. We also underscore the benefits of using it.
With time and patience, the implementation will become a regular part of your company’s daily operations. People will then comment, as they often do to me, that they can’t imagine working without one of those systems you likely implemented. You will then move to the next project, and the cycle starts again (though hopefully, the next time around will be more straightforward).