Friday, 13 October 2006

Unresolved Help Desk Calls + Motivation = Change? (part 3)

I agreed with the team leaders to present the idea at a team briefing. With the date set, the night before I ran the help desk report to show the number of outstanding calls on each work queue and spent part of my evening counting out and dividing hundreds of sweets into the various jars (each representing one work queue).

As I was doing this, I realised that although the jars are needed for operational purposes, it did detract somewhat from the shock factor of a huge pile of sweets. I've learned from Spendaholics (TV show) and John Kotter's 'The Heart of Change' that the tangible shock factor is all important to evoke the feeling which would hopefully lead to the change (I know he was talking about large organisational change, but I figure it could work for us too on a small scale).

So, I delved into the sweetie stockpile and started out counting sweets again equal to the number of outstanding calls. These I divided into plastic bags.

The next morning arrived, and I went in early to prepare the room. Jars laid out on a table and covered out of sight, the sweetie pile bags also hidden away, last months calls resolved within time stats and this month to date written on a white board, and another white board with numbers from 100-500 on it.

Once everyone had arrived I outlined the current situation regarding the increasing backlog with help desk calls and the people resources available. Next I turned to the whiteboard with the numbers 100-500 on it and asked everyone for their guess as to the number of outstanding calls. This led to a nice bit of banter whilst everyone submitted their thoughts which ranged from just over 300 to over 700! A nice indication that no one really knew. I circled those that came closest to the actual number and wrote it on the board for all to see (slight pause for it to sink in).

Next I said that at the end of the day it's just a number, and it's hard to grasp what that really means. At which point I delved into my shopping bag and pulled out first one plastic bag and handed it to a colleague to tip out into the middle of the table (I should say that we were all sat around a circular table which left a perfect circle in the middle for this exercise). The grins started to appear, and one person leaped ahead and said, "Oh, I bet we get a sweet for each call we close!" I grinned and handed out another bag. "I bet there's a hundred in each bag..." they said. Smiling, I handed out more bags to different people so about half of the team were hands-on.

When all the sweets were on the table, I stated the outstanding call number again and that each sweet didn't represent a call, but it represented someone waiting on us to complete their call (a slight mental shift as I was trying to encourage the customer-focused way of thinking).

As hands began to rummage through the sweets to see what was there I talked a bit about the process, then revealed the jars and went through each one showing the number of calls outstanding for that queue. This seemed to further reinforce the shock factor as in one case multiple people didn't realise there were any calls on one queue at all!

I fielded a number of questions, one of which was, "Is the council paying for this?" The answer was "No." In discussion with the team leaders we had agreed to split the initial and ongoing sweet cost 3 ways (I'm happy to pay for the jars as it was my idea, and if it fails then I get something out of it anyway). There was a split-second of silence as people took this in, then a number said "Thank you for doing this." I'm hoping that because we are willing to invest personal money and time, everyone will be that much more inclined to make the idea work.

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised that everyone present was smiling and up for the idea. I'd been prepared for the cynics. However, the real test would be when we were back in the office. Find out what happens in part 4 next Tuesday as that will mark 1 week of the new initiative.


Cymon said...

When do we get to read part 4 ?

Hav a nice w-e


The ITIL Imp said...

Hi Cymon, Part 4 is up - sorry for the delay (again)!

The ITIL Imp

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