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Publication Title | Managing a Remote Workforce: Proven Practices from Successful Leaders

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Best Practices for Managing a Distributed Workforce Page 18
Plan Carefully, Implement Aggressively
When we asked successful companies to reflect on the implementation strategies that worked, their recommendations were somewhat counter-intuitive. What clearly doesn’t work is “Ready, fire, aim.” The order of the steps for planning a program is different from the sequence in which implementation should actually occur.
Any change agent has to plan carefully to maximize success. Rushing to implementation is exactly the wrong thing to do. As an example, consider the “simple” task of mowing a lawn. You shouldn’t just grab the lawn mower and start whacking away—at least if you want to do a good job. Adequate preparation includes making sure you have enough gasoline, checking that all the kids’ toys are picked up, clearing out all the rocks, and putting on safety goggles and ear plugs before you begin mowing.
When you apply this same logic to the components of a distributed work program you will recognize that they should be introduced in the following order:
1. Human resource support systems (i.e., performance management, training design, and organizational change support)
2. Policy development (i.e., who, why, and how, the program will work, along with legal requirements and obligations)
3. Technology (i.e., selection, investment, training, and remote support)
4. Business process redesign (learn by doing; don’t try to anticipate all the details
in advance)
Look carefully at your implementation plan; you can often spot the seeds of failure very early on. Support systems must be developed and vetted first. Then focus on policies, technology, and finally a business process review.
Unfortunately, we have seen case after case where it’s been “Give them laptops, send them home, and we’ll figure out the other stuff later.” Our interviewees consistently noted that that kind of approach is a recipe for disaster. Every good pilot will tell you, “Plan the flight, then fly the plan.”
What Gets in the Way?
What can we learn from organizations that mismanaged the transition to workforce mobility, or failed to benefit from them? As it turns out, the thought leaders we spoke with have as much experience with programs that failed as with those that were obvious
© Copyright 2010 by The Work Design Collaborative, LLC. All rights reserved.
Plan the flight, then fly the plane.

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