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Just do it! The magic of a pilot…

This blog post is all about getting your own way when someone says:

"You can't do that” or "We can't do that."

This article is aimed at making change in organisations but this could be applied to any walk of life.

It's all about the freedom that is gifted by tweaking a request or proposal, with an open and exploratory attitude.


How do you feel when you put a proposal to your line manager and it doesnt get the airing it deserves. It's not a great feeling, but do not give up!

How do you feel when someone says:

“Can we try this? Just an experiment for a week to see how it goes?"

 

This is all about how you frame a proposal.

It's all about the psychology around that proposal of a trial or a pilot where people are much more likely to say yes to it than a much bigger project. This is because it's a small commitment, low risk over a smaller time-frame.

I noticed this from being a parent. When my small son and daughter asked me if they can add a Mentos to a Coca-Cola bottle inside the house, I know that that's going to explode and go all over the place, make a right mess, and it's going to take ages to tidy up.

So instead i’ll say how can we test this out with out ruining our home? Let's try  it outside with a small bottle and see what happens. Then we can see if it will ever work inside! (It never does)

I think this is an innate human characteristic where we want to let people who've had less experience to learn for themselves...as long as there's low risk.

So… you allow that experiment to happen. Your line manager will allow that experiment to happen. 

I think the same principle happens in organisations.

On a personal level, When I'm doing presentations we often drift into the subject of productivity, and I propose ideas that are quite "out there"- like

"Leave your mobile phone in the locker"

"Don't answer any calls and batch process your voicemails at the end of the day"

or put an out of office message that says 

"I only check emails between 12 and 1pm each day. I only respond to urgent emails in the week all others are left until Friday"  

I suggest they try for a day and see if the world ends. If the world doesn't end, try it for a week. If the world doesn't end then, try it for a month.

By the time they've got to a month, those tips that were scary to start- perception of high risk-  have become habitual.

If you walk into your sustainability committee room and say: "I want to change the whole estate from tungsten bulbs to LED bulbs. It's going to cost this much and we're going to get this pay back."

You’ll probably get a big no for an answer!

BUT if you go in and say:

"There's this room lit up with tungsten bulbs. I want to just test out if we change it to LED lighting how much it’ll save us and whether that's going to be scalable."

Now, they’re much more likely to say "yes" because you're offering a low-risk pilot or a trial.... and they want you to succeed and lern- without risk to their objectives. 

People are much more willing to say "yes" to something smaller as a trial for a specific amount of time. And it’s during this trial that you prove the model works. You prove the savings.

Or  you prove that the world isn’t going to end and it might work if you get an extension to the trial!.

Once you've got that momentum going, if you've proven the model works, people are much more less likely to put a stop to it – in fact they’re likely to buy in and support it.

Even if the trial did not work- you've still got a much greater possibility that it will be extended.

That's the power of setting out a trial. 

Top tips

To propose a trial remember the following parameters:

1) Specify the objective

2) Specify the time frame

3) Strip back the project as far as you can- to reduce risk- whilist delivering the main parts to deliver the objectives. 

This article about incremental roll outs will also help.

About the Author..

Daniel O'Connor

Daniel O'Connor

My goal is where reuse & repair is so convenient and desirable, that organisations do not throw anything away or buy anything new.. Where reusable items are redistributed for their 2nd and 3rd useful lives and when the items fail, they are diverted into repair.

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