Tips for Scaling

Tips for Scaling

"Sub-optimization is when everyone is working for themselves. Optimization is when everyone is working to help the company." - W. Edwards Deming

The next hurdle in digital transformation after successfully adopting full-service ownership with pilot teams is figuring out how to scale that across the rest of your organization. The following tips can help you avoid common pitfalls when attempting to scale new practices at an organizational level.

Onboarding#

Devoting time for onboarding new teams is an essential part of achieving full-service on an organizational scale. Shadowing is an extremely effective method for onboarding new teams into a full-service ownership model. Select team leads from teams that are new to service ownership should shadow successful pilot teams to better understand how the concepts in this guide more precisely relate to their day-to-day activities. These team leads should be tasked with observing how the various service ownership functions are practiced by the successful pilot team. When these team leads return to their original teams, a member of the successful pilot team should reciprocate by shadowing the team new to service ownership. The shadow member of the successful pilot team should be tasked with helping the new team define their service and mentoring the new team whenever they have any questions or encounter unexpected challenges.

Shadow On-Call#

In addition to routine day-to-day work activities, team members new to service ownership should also join a shadow on-call rotation. Shadow on-call rotations are created by adding an additional (and optional) on-call responder. Whenever an incident occurs, the optional shadowee is paged along with the primary responders. The shadowee is expected to join the incident call along with the primary responders. However, the shadowee joins the call in listen-only mode. A shadow rotation allows new incident responders to listen to real incident calls and it can both demystify the incident response process and help them build the confidence necessary to manage real incidents on their own. The goal of any shadowee on a rotation should be to get to a point where they can take the place of one of the primary responders for an incident, with that primary responder acting as their backup should they require assistance.

Practice Empathy#

Practicing empathy for teams new to service ownership will help smooth many cultural adoption hurdles. Successful pilot teams should go the extra mile to remember how difficult the transition to a new workflow was for them and work especially hard to extend kindness to their newly onboarded teammates. Patience and understanding are key when introducing new workflows, foreign situations, or other unexpected changes that could be met with fear or resistance to change.

Specifically for team members new to being in an on-call rotation, empathy is especially important. Individuals may have been woken up in the middle of the night, disturbed on their weekends or holidays, or expected to rapidly context-switch during the workday when facing tight deadlines. Practicing empathy with each other during these times dramatically reduces the stress associated with being on-call. If a team member who is on-call comes in later in the day, take a moment to understand that they may have been paged in the middle of the night and needed time to recuperate.

Not everyone will embrace change#

It is also essential to understand that not everyone will be willing to embrace the change as transformation begins to take root across your organization. The 20/60/20 rule, an adaptation of the Pareto Principle, states that in any given organization, approximately 20% of individuals will be early adopters who are excited to learn and try new things, 60% can be swayed in either direction, and another 20% will be detractors.

When undertaking digital transformation, focus on the 20% of early adopters first as they will be the most likely to succeed in the new process. Those early adopters will help champion and onboard the 60% through the change. For the remaining 20% detractors, practice empathy and go the extra mile to help these people adapt to a new operating model. However, it may be a necessary facet of change to accept that perhaps not everyone will be able to embrace it.