By the time an organization invests in software technology to support continuous improvement, they've usually embraced the idea that improvement should be a daily activity practiced by everyone in the organization. They realize that the people closest to the production of value for the customer are the ones who are in the best position to identify and resolve problems.
But not all improvement software rollouts are successful. You can pick the best technology platform on the planet, but it is useless if people won't use it. Often managers are focused on the training aspects of a new software implementation, and rightly so, but user adoption should be a parallel concern. Here are ten things you can do to get your team fully on board with your new improvement management solution.
There's a reason that improvement in the workplace is so hard to sustain. People don't like change and tend to revert to the more comfortable, old way of doing things. This is true for any change, new software included. While the solution's benefits may seem obvious to you, keep in mind that you are asking people to change their habits, learn something unfamiliar, and do things differently. Once you accept this reality and develop some empathy, you can lead people down the path to adoption in a way that improves your shot at success.
Tap into the "opportunity backlog"
Most people in your organization already know that things can be improved. If you talk to anyone, they can probably come up with a list of pet annoyances. You'd probably hear about red-tape issues, mundane tasks, too many meetings, workplace disorganization, etc. These irritations are fuel for your improvement software rollout because they are precisely the types of opportunities for improvement your platform is designed to collect and resolve. After all, implementing a system for positive change is an acknowledgment that progress is possible. Most people find this refreshing and exciting.
Look for the influencers
Every organization will find that there are some people who are more eager for change and improvement. Identify these people and involve them from the very first activities regarding your rollout. Executive leadership is essential, but don't shy away from building a coalition across all functional areas and seniority levels. It is smart to have at least one person in every department involved in your core implementation team.
Communicate effectively and stay ahead of the rumors
Where direct communication is absent, misinformation will flourish. That's why it is essential to allow team members to express their concerns and questions. The more people know about the software you are going to implement, why you are doing it, and how they will be impacted, the better. If possible, share all the information with everyone at the same time to avoid it becoming distorted. When you hear of any untrue rumors circulating through the staff, address them quickly and directly.
Address pessimists individually
You may have detractors who are actively opposed to implementing improvement software. Perhaps they have a particular reason for their opposition, or maybe they are strong resisters to change generally. It is best to talk to them individually because people tend to be less hostile in personal meetings. Negative attitudes are contagious, so you want to get to the cause of it before it affects the entire team. Everyone is entitled to fears and doubts, and they should be encouraged to speak up; that's the point of continuous improvement after all.
Expect the implementation to reveal other problems
Some of the challenges you experience in your quality software rollout may have nothing to do with the technology at all. People may be unhappy with how the solution is rolled out, internal procedures, or other management aspects. There may be other systems that don't work well, and your new improvement software will make these more apparent. Look at your implementation as a chance to learn more about adjacent processes and procedures.
Expect a "depression" phase
In change management theory, there is a phase called depression or chaos that comes immediately after starting something new. Acknowledge to the team that the first days or weeks of using a new software platform can be difficult. Be prepared to offer both training and emotional support. The depression phase won't last long; soon, you'll get to a point where people wonder how they ever managed before.
Create and celebrate quick wins
There are two parts to this tip. First, broadcast and beat the drum for every success related to the rollout itself. Did everyone get trained? Was the first opportunity for improvement submitted? Have your boards been configured for each location? If so, be sure to give those involved a big pat on the back. The second part of this tip is to identify an opportunity for improvement that can be implemented quickly and use the system to do so. That way people will see that the software can be a useful tool for improving how they work.
Give it time
Just like continuous improvement is a daily process, software implementation with high user adoption takes time and attention. The requirement isn't that everyone will be immediately proficient on day one; instead, the goal is to get a little bit better and a little bit broader over the first days, weeks, and months.
Cloud-based software and modern user interfaces have made the technical parts of rolling out an improvement management platform more painless than ever. The human aspects, however, are unchanged. With good planning, empathy, patience, and persistence, we know you can make your implementation a success.