I just returned from having my auto serviced at the dealership. The service advisor was very thorough in trying to get me to commit to new tires, but neglected to take the time to review the paperwork that resulted from the technician’s findings.
I knew this advisor, as he has been around for some time and listened to his apology as he went on to discuss that there is a new initiative he is responsible for, and some real “pushes” are taking place to upsell the customer. He confided in me that in the heat of the pursuit of success with this initiative, he finds himself less able to spend time discussing the technician’s findings because he needs more time to discuss and try to close a sale. I left wondering if this is such a good strategy, and found myself contacting another tire source and waiting for them to quote me on tires.
Leadership owns the story. With new initiatives you must not only implement a well-thought-out change to the operating strategy, but you need to be sure this change satisfies the business needs and the customer’s needs. Remember that you have ownership and accountability for the initiative. You own the execution, alignment, and success.
To begin with, you need to be able to understand how any action you may be taking can impact your customer, your team, and other parts of the organization. The next step is to think the initiative through to be sure of its effectiveness and what it ends up delivering. Ask yourself, does this support both the customer and the business? How should we be implementing this? Are we contributing to the overall growth of the business without adversely impacting our customer’s experiences? Is this a necessary and winning initiative?
With any new IT initiative you plan to put in place, I suggest you consider a thought map I have often used:
- Envision your initiative and whether it supports what the business is trying to accomplish. Ask yourself, does this fit with the way our organization succeeds?
- Clearly define the elements, tools, and training required to make it happen effectively, and ensure that it is aligned with the customer experience you wish to deliver. Make sure you have a 360-degree view of the people, processes, and technology requirements to make this happen.
- Ask yourself if you are making it clear what will be impacted, what will change, and what will not.
- Build support for your initiative among those that hold its future in their hands. Encourage collaboration.
- Test it. Have you gained a thorough understanding of how this will get done along with the work currently taking place? For example, will some responsibilities have to change, and will additional staff be required?
- Take the time to debrief the people who were in on the test and get feedback and some measure of the impact this change will have.
- Make sure any barriers to success are identified and addressed. Unravel any complexities to promote as seamless a transition as possible.
- Incorporate the appropriate findings and feedback, even if it may mean a slight delay in implementation.
- Discuss the why and help the team see the value in the future.
Now go out and energize your team and create excitement about going forward with the change. Leverage their skills and buy-in.
Keep in mind that for the past couple of years, these have been disruptive times, your team and others in the company have been so bombarded with exceptions and with change. Make sure this one gets the attention it needs. Do not lose sight of the experience this will deliver. I think the dealership would have been more successful if they took the time and the effort to understand the impact of their new initiative and planned accordingly.
Dennis Gershowitz is Principal at DG Associates.