. . . recommendation that sits on a shelf, suggestion that is not acted upon, training dollar that has no return on investment, report generated that is never looked at, project that is started but never implemented or adopted. My guess is that each and every person reading this has the same wish. We participate in studies, surveys, trainings, brainstorming / feedback/ crowdsourcing sessions, and walk away, rolling our eyes because we know that it was a complete waste of time and going nowhere.
An article in Harvard Business Review entitled, “Don’t Ask for New Ideas if You’re Not Ready to Act on Them” points out that many companies encourage people to contribute new ideas but then have no way to process them on the back end. We find this to be the case with many, many of our client organizations. They take the time to engage employees through surveys, contests or brainstorming sessions and then never do anything with the suggestions. This leaves many employees feeling like their time has been wasted or worse – they are cynical about participating in any future exercises. The initial intent of “engagement” is great but the lack of planning and follow-through can and will negate any good will that was created.
Now let’s take these examples and apply them to how we operate with our business partners, either internal or external, to examine whether we are guilty of the same behavior. Have you ever surveyed your “customers” but never followed up with changes, let alone even a summary of the results? Have you ever requested information or input from your suppliers, but did not take the time to plan what you were going to do with it once it was received. Every time we do this, we are leaving behind a frustrated partner and one that will hesitate the next time they are presented with a similar request.
So, what do we do about it? Start with PLANNING – that dreaded process that most people think they can do without, until they realize they can’t. Before you get started:
- articulate the problem you are trying to solve or the opportunity you are trying to pursue
- determine the key questions you need answered to help you solve your problem or pursue your opportunity
- determine the information you will need to answer your key questions
- determine what you are going to do with the information you gather
- provide a template to ensure that the information you are getting back can be easily sifted through and analyzed
- determine how you want to keep your partners informed so they feel that their input was valued and considered (even it does not end up being acted upon)
- Once you gather input from your partners USE IT
The same process can be applied to other data/information gathering exercises as well. Let’s take training for example. Whether you are sending your employees to training or attending a session yourself, take some time to PLAN what you will do with what you have learned. If you don’t have a PLAN for utilization, don’t do it. No utilization = a negative ROI (X amount of cost with no corresponding benefit). The same can be said for any exercise we go through that does not have a utilization / adoption plan. In other words . . . . . I Wish I had a Dollar for Every . . . because that is the only Value I will see.
Let us know what you think and join in the conversation.