Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Change is Fun. No, Really!


Originally ​​Posted by Heather Lee on January 7, 2013
Many people don’t like change, and I’m right there with them in many cases (how dare you update my favorite 70s-style mall?!). However, when it comes to technology, I love change. Changes to the technology I use to do my work are especially fun.

For example, a lot of my friends had kittens when Microsoft updated Office to the ribbon. They hated that change. Me, I loved it. If I couldn’t find something that had moved, I hit F1 to look it up and kept on trucking. That’s my approach to any software update, though: find the improvements and work them into my proposal processes to maximize efficiency.

Process change is a bit more difficult, but we can adapt this kind of flexibility beyond the tools we use to the way we work. In my experience with process and procedure development, building a framework and refusing to flex it leads to tears and yelling. Nobody likes those, so here are a few ways to make sure your processes can tolerate change.

Cover your contingencies. No single process can cover every situation, but you’re familiar enough with your business to cover many of them. Build your process around the most likely situations while keeping the fringes in mind. Having an immovable time frame to provide pricing data isn’t doing you any favors when you receive an emergency request for task order proposals with a tight turnaround.

Include your minions. Designing a process around an entire team without consulting the people who will carry it out is just daffy. These people will think of contingencies you won’t, and it’s in their best interest as well as yours to maximize efficiency within a process. They’re an excellent source of flex, especially when you need to scramble proposal teams.

Avoid bottlenecking. The temptation to pin a process on one department or a particularly strong staff member is both evil and common, so don’t. Bottlenecking leads to stovepiping, which is the death of flexibility. Each of your support teams must be able to work with your capture team daily to adjust to RFP modifications and new incoming information, or your proposal won’t reach compliance.

Successful process change really comes down to attitude and the willingness to fix what’s broken in spite of it being “the way we’ve always done things.” When you build this attitude into your processes (and even your life!), change really is fun.
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