Cultural changes in the organization

We have been planning some key product engineering initiatives that will introduce disruptive change in our organization. Success of these initiatives is aligned to success of key organization goals. The following is a brief process outline of how we are planning to implement these initiatives:

Defining Why:

A clear, precise and focused answer on why  the organization is embarking on these initiatives is very important.  The ‘Why’ should spell out the aspirational outcome of these initiatives that would help create alignment with key stakeholders. The beauty of defining ‘Why’ first is that it presents the aspirations but doesn’t get bogged down in ‘How’ and ‘What’ too early. The How and What will follow and can be refined/adjusted.

 

Define Key Measurable Milestone for these initiatives:

All major initiatives that would lead to impactful changes in the organization have to be broken down into smaller measurable milestones. One should review and conduct detailed retrospectives after every milestone. The goal may be the same but the ways to achieve the goal may need course corrections based on feedback from ground zero.

Identify the Catalyst team who can be the flag bearer of these initiatives:

This team should have representation across all levels in the organization. The team should shun hierarchy, be uninhibited and innovative, as well as motivated to drive this initiative to highest level in the organization.

 

Leadership Role:

The leader’s conviction is the key to ensure success of these initiatives. Leaders provide intent, intensity and focus.

  • Their global stature and appeal will ensure all employees notice these initiatives.
  • They will ensure that all stakeholders will be evaluated based on their effective participation in this initiative.
  • They are cheerleaders for these initiatives. They encourage and incentivize employees who embody these initiatives.
  • They will take a lead in customer communication and interaction around these initiatives. This will lead to customer involvement, feedback and enrichment of such initiatives.

 

Organization Policies and Role of Support Departments:

All support departments, especially HR, play a key role in the success of these strategic initiatives. Effective initiation of the program needs an appropriate communication plan followed by introductory training programs to enthuse the ranks and files.

It is easy for any initiative or training to invoke an initial positive reaction. However, true learning needs sustenance and internalization. It means that every policy and  action in the organization has to highlight participation and success of these key initiatives. Performance Management and Rewards and Recognition being the key functions of HR, it is imperative that these functions  acknowledge and reward the employees who make key contributions to these initiatives.

The Employee

Technology focused engineering services organizations like ours have already recognized the importance of the inverted pyramid- ’employees first, customer second’. If we train and take care of our employees, they will take good care of our customers. However, the most important thing is how to ensure training effectiveness.

It can be achieved, if you are able to connect it with the individual’s growth and goals. For example, consider our product engineering initiatives in the context of employee careers.

Our industry has created a mechanism to convert Software Engineers into mere programmers. The engineers have compartmentalized themselves as Java, C#, SQL programmers. The management is planning trainings for them to become ‘Jack the all-rounder’. They are trained in everything like industry domain, communication skills, team leading, time management and whatnot.. While I am not suggesting that these trainings are unimportant, we should prioritize and conduct focused training programs and workshops to sharpen their saw for the day to day rigor which is to write good code. This will surely impact their careers and help them achieve their goals.. They say invoking behavioral changes that impact results can only be achieved by influencing the self-esteem and self-worth of every individual. This provokes thoughts of conducting coding workshops. These workshops:

  • Challenge them to become full stack programmers who can code in various programming languages across various logical layers.
  • Challenge them to analyze software requirements holistically, including functional and non-functional aspects(Usage, Performance).
  • Challenge them for first time quality rather than have them pass the buck to the testing team.
  • Showcase model code and have them vouch for writing code with similar standards.
  • Above all, they showcase role models who have attained good heights in their career following the above ethos.

 

The Customer

The real testimony of the success of these initiatives is the customer feedback. The simplest way to get the feedback is to create a list of questions (CSAT/Customer Survey) based on our understanding of the expected outcomes of these initiatives. Assuming these initiatives were aligned to customer success in first place, the outcome of the survey is the litmus test which will help us gauge the success of these initiatives.