Do you know how happy I am that you’re finally reading this blog post? It feels like I’ve been waiting on this forever. In full disclosure, it’s not your fault. You couldn’t have read this post before because it wasn’t written until now.
Sorry about that. But see? I’m on it now, and here we are. Fixing it forward.
You’ve got to start somewhere
My dad used to tell a joke about a guy named Lou who kept hoping and praying to win the lottery. After plenty of hoping and no success, he felt abandoned and hopeless. Finally, a voice from above told him, “Lou, you’ve got to meet me halfway. You’ve got to buy a ticket.”
Classic. The human condition. We want all of the things but we struggle to even get started. Lou doesn’t have a lottery ticket so he can’t win. I don’t have a blog post written so you can’t read it. We want to win races but we don’t want to have to train for them. We hope our customers and employees will stick around but we don’t want to have to do anything about it.
So where are we supposed to start? Hopes, dreams, and context.
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Presenting the past
Very often, researchers and other humans spend time deconstructing the past. After all, it’s much easier to collect data from the past than from the future. When we look into information from the past, we can see trends and patterns, and maybe even lessons to learn.
However, that’s often where the analysis stops. Spreadsheets and slide decks and binders full of data pile up, are presented, and are eventually filed away.
Too often, no plan is made to act on what’s learned. It’s as if the entire analysis was just an end unto itself. (Q: Why did you do the survey? A: To create a report. Q: Why did you create a report? A: Because we did a survey.) Unfortunate.
Let’s say that you’ve discovered something that you really need to solve. Maybe you’ve collected a lot of data, but mostly it just proves to you that there’s a problem. For example: Perhaps you find that your customer service team doesn’t fully understand a new return policy. This might be leading to an increase in customer frustration, incorrect payment processing, and even a drop in overall sales. Left unchecked, this problem could definitely fester. What to do?
A few common personas come into play in these scenarios. Do any of these seem familiar to you?
- Head-in-the-sand Helen: Helen’s not too worried about this problem. Sure, it’s not great, but what can you do? And is it really worth the effort? Let’s just ignore it. Maybe the problem will just go away. Maybe the team will eventually catch on to the new policy. Let’s not get all fussed over it.
- Bossy Bernie: Conversely, Bernie is all over the problem, more or less sight unseen. Without having to even waste time collecting data about the issue, Bernie already knows exactly what to do to solve it. Coincidentally, Bernie is also personally best equipped to solve this problem. Probably a stern talking-to from Bernie will sort the whole thing out.
- Repeat Rupert: Interestingly, the same thing happened before at another place where Rupert worked. Well, it wasn’t exactly about a return policy and it wasn’t really about the customer service team, but probably the same fix will work. Rupert generally finds that the same hammer helps him nail a lot of problems.
- Learner Lenore: Lenore’s in it to win it, but not before really understanding what it’s all about in the first place. Lenore likes to think of herself as a detective or a researcher, but some people think that she’s an alchemist because of the way she magically changes data into action plans. Weird.
Many of us take on one or all of these personas from time to time. Let’s not even get into discussing Lazy Larry, Hope-for-the-best Hannah, and Ardent Arthur — who’s passionate about somebody doing something but can’t really figure out who ought to do what…
Commit to commitment
But seriously, somebody really has to do something. In many cases, like improving customer experience, that somebody is you. In the case of writing this blog, it’s me. Wouldn’t it be great if there were just three simple steps to get ourselves out of this jam? Let’s make it four, just to keep things even.
You can’t do anything about the past, but you can fix it forward. Here’s how:
- Understand all you can about the situation: You can’t change the past, but you can try to understand it. What’s the problem? What’s causing the delay in action? Whether you’re conducting an interview, administering a survey, or just taking a long hard look in the mirror, be honest with yourself and the answers you uncover. Sugarcoating your findings won’t make the next step any easier. Get insights and trends for important metrics and key driver analysis.
- Make a plan to do something about it: A good plan takes into account the full context you’re starting with and sets out a step-by-step process to address the issue and solve the problem or reach a specific goal. Plans should be specific and actionable. If responsibilities need to be allocated, set clear assignments.
- Do something: This is perhaps the most challenging part of the whole process. However, if you’re genuinely committed to improvement, you fully understand the context, and your plan is viable, will power may be the most important ingredient to help you move forward at this point. If you’ve stalled out here, you’ll have to start back again at the beginning.
- Check to see if it worked: Sadly, this step is often missed. Activity is often conflated with productivity, and action with accomplishment. How will you measure your success? Did you achieve the goal or solve the problem? Reflection is critical in learning and in both personal and business growth.
All set? Repeat, repeat, repeat.
- Understand: I’ve been planning to write this blog about the “fix it forward” concept, but I’m low on time and other priorities consistently get in the way.
- Plan: I’ll set a deadline (today!) by which this must be done and I’ll tell other team members about the goal. If I fail to complete this post today, I’ll have to hide my head in shame.
- Do: I’m writing, I’m writing!
- Check: Okay, it looks like I’m almost to the end. 1000 words already? That can’t be right. I need to get some images in and plenty of links, not to mention a CTA, but it looks like I’m on track thus far.
Try the same thing yourself. What would you like to fix forward? Whether it’s training for a 5k, improving your customer return policy, rolling out an employee experience management program, or writing a blog, stop stopping yourself. Stop carrying that coulda-shoulda guilt. Do or do not, Yoda reminds us. There is no try. It’s time to get things done.
Are you ready? Make the decision to move forward with better data and better insights. Now’s the time. Sogolytics can help.