One of the most challenging aspects of any business is trying to cultivate a successful shift in business culture. No matter how much a new culture of streamlined business operations will improve an organization, a new culture simply can’t be forced - especially if not much has changed in the last ten years, or maybe even longer. Instead, the challenge is to get that organization to shift their culture organically. New processes must fit into the existing structure, and make sense in a way that the individuals involved are willing to make that change happen. Recently, SmartWave was able to develop and oversee an organic culture shift with one of our clients. When we began our evaluation and analysis process, it was clear that both the non-technical people and the technical people were experiencing a lot of frustration with their existing processes. In the end, we found that, overall, both “sides” were just trying to do their jobs, but the process made this difficult.
A big issue was the sheer volume of help desk requests, which continued to pile up as backlog. So, unsurprisingly, the IT department was overwhelmed, while the staff was agitated, as unresolved technology problems disrupted their workflow.
The Culture Shift
One component of our solution process was to institute some basic rules, the result of which would allow the non-technical individuals to request help from the IT department, while the technical people could keep on top of the workload. After working with the organization for less than a year (with a variety of ups and downs along the way, of course), we’ve seen the overall satisfaction rate in the IT department skyrocket from a below 30% approval rating to above 85% overall IT department satisfaction today.
Those numbers continue to improve; however, the IT department still struggles with open IT ticket volume. Why? Because an organizational culture shift takes time, as well as commitment from individual employees as well as management. While new software was implemented to tackle IT ticket volume, some employees were still calling the IT department (the old method), instead of documenting their problem in an email (the new method).
Evidence of Progress
So we were excited to see evidence of real managerial commitment when the Director of Operations sent out a(n unprompted by us) company-wide email regarding help desk efficiency issues. He was able to determine that, in an organization of over 200 employees, 10% were calling the IT department on any given day. He went on to explain that when individuals called in IT concerns rather than emailing, the IT department spent over three hours per day just taking help desk calls and documenting tickets. He explained that an email only takes a few minutes to compose and send, as opposed to the time-consuming phone calls, which took up to four times as long as email tickets.
While conditions have greatly improved, this Director of Operations email is evidence that there may be some lingering issues, but management is on board and ready to continue encouraging this culture shift.
Lean and Agile
The last 60 seconds of any basketball game are very tightly managed. Calculations are made to extend that minute into several due to timeouts, fouls, and more. Like a close basketball game, at SmartWave we encourage our clients to manage in minute detail. You can look at your team in terms of trends and statistics, and that’s important – but when you break workflow down in terms of days, as opposed to months or years, you really get a sense of appreciation for how your people spend their work time.
This email was very encouraging, because the Director of Operations was ready to get down to the details to identify exactly where those lingering problems might arise – and that is exactly how to manage a lean and agile team. And when we say lean, we’re not talking fewer employees – we mean lean in terms of how the organization operates, how quickly the IT department responds, and the tangible effects of hands-on time management. This action by the Director of Operations is a testament to the effectiveness of our SmartWave methods – and that’s always great to hear.
Detail is important when you’re managing a team. The difference between two minutes and eight minutes is huge when the volume of affected work is analyzed. When workflow is broken down to a day-to-day scale, your organization becomes more adaptive to the needs of your users. It becomes easier to manage your teams, your culture, and your technology – and that is the path toward an effective, lean and agile organization.