MM: As you had developed the organizational strategy for how Hubert might benefit from database publishing, one of the major efforts that you undertook entailed developing an internal white paper. The preparation of the paper allowed you to put into cogent, logical order, an organizational change—an organizational transformation story.
As you began to circulate the white paper, it served as a persistent messaging object—a framework—for structuring and guiding internal conversations around how affected stakeholders could come up-to-speed with the new system.
MM: As I recall for our previous conversations, your process of bringing stakeholders up-to-speed revealed new adoption criteria and business requirements that subsequently you wove back into the next version of the white paper. So the white paper was a living document that continued not only the conversation, but also the coalescence of, “Yes. This makes sense for us a firm.”
With internal consensus, you built a nice platform by which to start engaging vendors in terms of what you need from them. I find absolutely fascinating. As I recall in ’98 or ’99—when all of this took place—your were in a lot conversations such as, “Maybe we ought to get a DAM.” But you came back with, “Let’s figure out exactly how we produce our big-book 900-page catalog, and understand if there are any other inefficiencies we should work out before we actually start looking at DAMs.” Would you take us through that process?
TM: Absolutely. That was the fun part, really.
What was intriguing was that it was apparent that all of the people involved in producing the catalog had probably never been in the same room at the same time, before. Therefore, there were lots of big revelations once we sat down together.
We got 15 stakeholders in a meeting—people from groups that touched the catalog to people who participated in the production of the catalog—everyone from merchandisers to graphic artists to IT people. Also, we had some fairly significant shareholders, like a VP of Marketing who was there for many of the meetings.
Basically we had 15 people that met twice a week for half a day over a 9-month period, Initially we defined the workflow that was currently in place. The direction of the meeting was very specific. We were not there to change anything at that point. We were only there to identify and to bring artifacts. To make sure that everyone understood exactly what was being done now. We met in what we called the ‘War Room.’ It was a fairly big conference room that had windows—over half of it that we actually covered up at one point, because we simply needed more room to put stuff on the walls.
Workflow Model in the War Room
MM: As I recall, you physically mocked up each step of the workflow associated with publishing a 1,000-page big-book catalog and a website. Is that right?
TM: Yes. Absolutely.
MM: If someone had the printouts from your mainframe—then you physically tacked a piece of green bar up on the wall which somebody then transcribed that into a spreadsheet.
TM: And if an artifact like that didn’t work well, then we took a picture of it. Remember when you were moving paper around, a lot of times it was, “Put something in a bin,” or, “Take it to this location.” If we felt it couldn’t be described very well, we’d take a picture of it and put the picture up on the wall, too.
MM: If “sneakerware” was involved, where someone had to physically move a file from one person to another, you had photographs of the individuals and a string connecting the two individuals?
TM: We had yarn. We had different types of colored tape that we would use. We had different colored starbursts that meant different things. We identified pain points, as well, during this process. And, a big red star meant, ‘Here’s an issue.’—a real Pain Point.
MM: How did you call out defects or mistakes?
TM: In much the same way: remember, we were not trying to solve any problems, yet. We were only identifying them.
MM: I can’t overstate the importance of what you just said. Many people make the mistake of going in to an organization with a change mindset: “Here’s how we’re going to change this. Here’s how we’re going to change that.” That naturally produces all kinds of pushback and resistance among stakeholders.
TM: And resentment.