Collaborating Through Process Change to Achieve Positive Team and Business Outcomes

Michael Marano

Technical Director, Office of the CTO at Google



"The introduction of process change can be difficult, especially with large companies or a growing team. Sometimes it requires asking others to do extra work in order for you as a manager not to have to do excess work. It may absolutely be true that it will save you time and, therefore, the company money on the downstream, but be conscious that most people won't buy into that. Individuals may have objections and there could be a lot of pushback from the team as a whole. Therefore, what techniques can you use to manage the people side of change to achieve the required business outcomes?"

Actions taken

"First of all know what you are doing, why you're doing it, and how it benefits the team and/ or individual. Having these three things outlined provides structure to the process change even if the change is elastic and constant. It's going to be an iterative change, not immediate, so defining a base will show the progress of where you were yesterday, what you're doing today, and then what you actually want to have in the future."

"Next, get your team involved and make the process theirs. Actively engage the team in defining what the process is and the business requirements. Provide visibility and transparency on a daily and weekly basis. Bring it back to foundational problems that need to be solved and relate it to your team using an engineering mindset. Compare it to writing software. Just as the team has to write software that meets business requirements to hit business objectives, so you can you allow them to be active participants in deciding parts of the process change. Allow them to define how they want to work and meet them in the middle instead of simply telling them what to do and what needs to be done. Most likely you're going to get people that are reading blogs and are hanging out on hacker news that are going to know things you don't because you don't have the time for that. You want to foster their contributions and knowledge, even if it doesn't come to fruition."

Lessons learned

"The key is to always use change management processes, times of transition, as a way to drive collaboration and partnership and not just to specify a solution. Make sure you engage both parties that have a common interest in the outcome. Never come to a point where it's you versus them, boss versus subject. Otherwise, what will end up happening is that both sides will come to an impact, butting heads and arguing, and everyone will lose out in that case. Remember that these issues deal directly with your team and that you're all in it together. Find ways to collectively hurdle over them and move on."

"On the contrary, be careful how you frame and position the process change. You don't want the team to feel that you're giving them the task of figuring out what to do themselves. There's a balance. Acknowledge that you know there are changes that need to be made, do your research, explain what you have found and think it will work, and then reveal the areas that you can't solve on your own. Know what you're doing, why you're doing it, and how it benefits the team and/or individual while still meeting the business requirements. Be prepared with your own proposals and solutions but also be open to options and willing to move in a new direction."

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Michael Marano

Technical Director, Office of the CTO at Google

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