Pilot & Publish – How to launch complex operations successfully

Some time ago I had to introduce a complex new solution to allot of people. This new solution changed their way of working in many ways. When it comes to this kind of changes it’s never easy because people need to change behavior.

I know that from me, you may know that from yourself, changing a habit, changing something that you have been doing for a long time, maybe years, is very difficult. Even if you want to.
Whenever I have these kinds of changes to make, to me or others, I pilot.

I pilot and test the new solution (process, tool, can be anything) with a selected number of individuals and maybe even with reduced functionality. You can do this with new processes, new software or even with much smaller deliverables, like a presentation or a whitepaper. Push it to a limited selected audience to let them evaluate its quality. It is to proof that the principle is working. In fact I did the same with this blog.

You may say this is pretty obvious to do like that, to test things before publishing them or making them a mandatory thing, but when you look around in your company, especially in bigger ones, you may find many things that are just introduced in a big bang operation (and were not really successful). At least that’s my experience.

People quite often don’t pilot their stuff. Sometimes they forget, sometimes they don’t have or take the time, sometimes they simply don’t know. With sharing my knowledge I would like to change this for you.

Image these daily life examples:

Before you watch a movie in the cinema, you watch a trailer to know if the movie is worth the money. You do a “pilot watch”.
Before you by a car, you want to test drive it. You to do a “pilot trip”.
Before you by new clothes you try if they fit and suite you. You do a “pilot wearing”.
Before you by an unknown cheese in the supermarket you want to taste a piece of it. You do a “pilot taste”
Before you by house, you want to live some weeks in it… Wait… that’s not possible. Maybe that’s the reason why a good amount of owners are not satisfied. Same for renters. But that’s a different story.

If you have to introduce a new process, IT system or any product and the introduction seems impossible because of the complexity, the amount of impacted people or the maturity of what every you want to introduce: do a piloting phase (we used to call it dry-run, pilot, proof of concept, you name it).

That means: “pilot&publish”
Prioritize the impacted people
Look for the group that needs the product most or the group that is willing to do a pilot
Perform an information session with this group
Train this group in the new product
Let the people use the product
Receive and incorporate the communities’/customers feedback
Open the product for the public
The result is twofold. First you have a feedback from the final user/consumer. That’s most valuable to improve your product. Second you have people that can speak about your product to others in a positive way. That will later on help you promote your product, process etc.

For a product on the internet this is the start of your community.

For a change management project in your company these allies are the ones that can and from my experience will make the difference in terms of success.

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