Have you heard the adage “life is a journey, not a destination”? While the author is unknown, I can assure you whoever penned this has never traveled on an airplane with a toddler (kidding, sort of).
It is applicable in the area of operational initiatives. So, if go-live is not your destination, then what is? My short answer is adoption. Adoption of the change you hope to see as a result of the project at hand.
My long answer: adoption is not a single point-in-time moment. It is the art of encouraging and empowering people to develop (and refine) effective and positive habits. Therefore, instead of a finish line, let's picture stepping stones of support for your users.
Let’s continue the long answer.
When your organization realizes a major change is necessary, it is not [typically] done on a whim or without considerable thought. Whether that major change is a transformation of your fundraising strategy or an evaluation of business processes to elevate employees to take more ownership of responsibilities, or even a technology change to be more efficient internally – that change requires an implementation and launch of new ways of working. It also requires adoption of those new ways of working and supporting end users indefinitely. Maintaining a high level of success requires an on-going commitment to constantly seek opportunities for improvement. So, how do we appropriately evaluate success and determine what’s next to keep adoption high?
The first step in any major operational initiative is to define the business case for the initiative and write it down. Yes, write it down (think: Project Charter). That way, it can be referenced throughout the implementation and well after go-live to ensure your focus remains on the initial intent. What do you seek to accomplish as a result of successfully launching the initiative? In order to answer this question thoroughly, you need to understand what you are seeking to accomplish and why.
Next, you need to answer what are the known barriers that prevent you from meeting your objective today? An easy way to organize the answer to both of questions is to take it back to grammar school and define your 5 Ws: who, what, when, where and why. Once these are defined, you will need to answer the hardest: how?
Finally, you will want to define measurable KPIs (key performance indicators) to quantify the success of your initiative. Your KPIs should have a mix of finite (date or campaign driven) and interminable goals in order to build in celebrated milestones as well as define standards that determine ongoing success at any given point.
Major milestones, like meeting your 5-year campaign fundraising goal, should be celebrated when met! Give credit where credit is due and make sure folks understand their role in this major accomplishment. Keep in mind, while this is a major milestone and should be celebrated, it is not a finish line. It simply makes room for you to set your sights on new goals.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to plan your initiatives in a way that offers a foundation for high adoption and ongoing success, I can help with that.