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Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Minimize risk—”Pilot” your next great idea.

Thinking about recommending or leading a new strategy within your organization? You can minimize your risk, and increase your opportunity to swiftly fine-tune and measure success, if you’re able (and it’s possible) to approach your idea as a “pilot” versus a large-scale organizational change.

As an example—Say you have some great ideas for implementing a new centralized project management system in an organization that has been practicing decentralized project management. You can imagine, if you don’t already know, that you’re going to come up against some significant resistance. You can push for implementation across the organization, and deal with the inevitable company-wide anxiety and glitches of a new system. Or, you can recruit just two or three individuals or one department, to participate in a manageable “pilot” where participants will have the opportunity to utilize the centralized project management process, provide real-time feedback, and in turn, help to work through the bugs and improve the process before rolling it out company-wide.

Another benefit of sponsoring a pilot program is that it helps build everyone’s awareness of a pending organizational or departmental change, while giving people the time and opportunity to get used to the idea and support it before they have to personally abide by the change. And the participants in such a pilot may be your best and most confident advocates for the program after the process is tight, and ready to be communicated and rolled out to the organization.

Certainly a pilot approach may take longer as it relates to introducing full-implementation of a new project or process. Yet, there may be significant time saved in fine-tuning a program and/or strategy within a smaller arena, and working through the “bugs” while they’re only affecting the pilot participants. The mere title of “pilot” reflects an experimental or trial undertaking. And a trial undertaking allows for error and can be much easier to manage and adjust accordingly.

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