Sometimes it is better to just listen to the wisdom of others. Today I am quoting Brian Casazza, Chief Information Officer of Vistage International. He reflects on a recent events at Headquarters with his team, and how he and his team achieved success.
“My team recently learned firsthand how the processes you have in place determine whether a large project will succeed or fail. Vistage had released an update to some of our software features which are essential to our core business. We simultaneously introduced a new mobile app geared towards making Vistage more accessible for both members and Chairs.
The rollout of this technology upgrade turned out to be more challenging than we had expected. In the course of resolving these issues, we came to the conclusion that our current development and release process did not meet our needs. We turned to the Vistage Issue Processing format to zero in on the root problems, identify our options, and come up with a plan for the future.
First, we recruited longtime Vistage Chair Mike Malone to help the IT team identify learnings and optimize our development and release cycle. Mike had one clear mantra going in: “Focus on the process.” Not many people think of delivering software like they would manufacturing a widget. We often get caught up in intelligence, the art of code, and personalities that don’t fit normal corporate molds. But designing, developing, and releasing software is very much like a manufacturing process. Raw input goes in, resources are assigned, work in progress is managed, and a product comes out. Throughout our conversations with Mike, our goal became clear: A process that efficiently delivers a high quality product to our customers.
We broke down our session into a few simple areas:
- First, we set the rules of engagement for issue processing. Without mutual agreement that respect, honesty and openness were required, the issue processing session would not have yielded meaningful results.
- Next, we identified what the issue was we were processing. After agreeing on what we wanted to achieve, we were able to work together toward the same goal.
- Then, we reviewed relevant background information, including timelines, events, and milestones. We asked clarifying questions around what actually occurred during our most recent software release. Throughout the process, we identified ways to capture those ongoing challenges that prevented us from achieving our goals.
- Finally, we began work on suggestions to improve the process, right down to developing an approach to future projects that would address some of our biggest areas for improvement.
Sure, we could have hired a consulting company to help us do this work. After weeks, and with more distraction to the team, we would have had reports, new processes, and a big bill. We chose the Vistage process because we know the Vistage process works. Together, with the right framework and facilitation, we were able to solve our challenges and do so in a way that allowed the people closest to the work to participate in designing the future. In the end, we had agreement among the team. Everyone participated in these changes, and come Monday, everyone was working toward the new IT approach.”