Lessons from a YMC Failure.

Processes — the word provokes anxiety in abstract thinkers while inciting joyous glee in their analytical counterparts. But one thing is for certain, love them or hate them, processes are a necessary part of every business model (unless you’re operating under a rule of chaos, in which case, enjoy your last few months in business).

We at #TeamYMC are constantly reevaluating our processes, but around the first of this year, everything came to a head. Enticed by a pretty picture and promised convenience, we decided to switch project management systems. Ultimately we landed on a more complex (and far more expensive) piece of software.

That’s when all hell broke loose.

The qualms we had with our old system seemed immediately smaller next to the disastrous dumpster fire that ensued under the new program. I wish I was being sarcastic. We stay busy here at YMC, but this was a whole new level of crazy – something we had ironically aimed to cut out of our culture with this switch. Through a sick twist of fate, in trying to simplify our daily task lists, we ended up further-complicating them.

So, how did this happen? How did we miss the mark so badly with this transition?

We overcorrected. We over-regulated. We painted ourselves into a corner with processes, and, as a result, we paralyzed our workflow.

I would be remiss not to reiterate, there were issues with our old processes. Nobody can deny that. Chaos was a daily companion and tasks ruled our work weeks. However, while the process may have been a bit janky, it wasn’t totaled. We replaced the entire car with a shiny new stick shift that nobody knew how to drive when we could have just fixed up the old one with a little TLC.

Now, fortunately, the members of #TeamYMC are a pretty resourceful bunch. We rallied, we troubleshot, and we found workarounds until we could kill the new system and transition back to our previous project management software. Essentially, we traded that new stick shift back in for old-reliable.

So why do I tell you this story? Why choose to publicize one of our biggest failures? Because we believe in authenticity and transparency. We aren’t perfect, and chances are, your organization isn’t either. Because of this, we can probably learn from each other in both trials and triumphs alike.

Lesson 1: Nobody likes a kneejerk.
We saw a problem and went nuclear with our solution. In our frustration, we found comfort in the promise of increased convenience from another platform. We overcorrected and ended up making our problem 100x worse than it was before. The lesson in all this? Take a step back and make sure the solution actually solves the problem before going all in.

Lesson 2: Don’t re-invent the wheel.
The ability to change and stay relevant in your industry is important. But, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Improve on it, sure, but strongly consider the repercussions before blowing the whole process up.

Lesson 3: Take pride in your people.
Processes will never go away, but be careful not to overlook the resourcefulness of your people in your focus on processes. Your people are what keep your organization afloat, not a policy in a handbook and certainly not your project management system.

We got through the chaos only because our people are relentless. Our passion for our clients and dedication to producing good work outshines any frustration caused by our new system. Everyone has each other’s backs and looks out for each other, regardless of department, location, and company status. Despite the insanity that the transition caused, we came out at the other end stronger than we were before. With a new appreciation for simplicity and communication, #TeamYMC is ready for the next set of dumpster fires.

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