Launch and Learn

I love HR Pros! I really do.

There is one common trait that many of the best HR Pros have – we love to have things perfect before we launch or go public with them!  BTW – this is specific to HR – Operations, Sales, Marketing, etc. are all willing to ‘try’ stuff – to throw it out there and see what happens.  In HR this is taboo!

Why is that?

For me this idea is the one thing that truly holds HR back from being innovative.  Think about these words from Mark Suster at the Both Sides of the Table blog:

“I’m sure you’ve all heard saying derived from Voltaire, “don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good” which in a way is encapsulated in the lean startup movement and the ideology of shipping a “minimum viable product” (MVP) and then learning from your customer base.

I think about this topic of perfection being the enemy of the good often. Because I live in startup land where everybody is a perfectionist. I think this is particularly true because every startup entrepreneur is trying to catch lightning in a bottle.

I hear about it in every first product release. You can see it in the founders’ eyes. They want the perfect feature set, the PR company lined up to do the perfect press release, they want maximum coverage, rave reviews, viral adoption and they want to sit back and then wait for the signups to come roaring in.

Life doesn’t work like that. And gearing yourself up for a lighting-in-a-bottle moment leads to bad company decisions.”

If those types of decisions lead to ‘bad company decisions’, inevitably those same types of behaviors will lead to bad HR decisions.

I hear what’s going around in your head right now, HR Pros!  I’m an HR Pro myself – that voice is hard to quiet.  “How can making sure something is perfect – a project, a program, a new process – be bad for HR and our organization!?”  Making something perfect isn’t bad.  Failure to launch is bad.  Also, taking too long or using too many resources to ensure perfection can be a huge negative to how HR, and you, are viewed.  In HR we aren’t trying to save lives or solve the world economic crisis – we have some room to ‘test’ and do some ‘trial and error’ – as long as communicate that is what you’re doing.

I’ll give you a little secret I’ve used for years in HR.  Like most of us in HR I’ve designed my fair share of new programs and processes, and I’ve tried to make them perfect.  To ensure I didn’t have something blow up on me – I always have done ‘soft’ launches.  I’ll launch with a single department or I’ll communicate out that this is a ‘test’ and we need feedback.  99.9% of the time my ‘test’ goes off without any issues and the ‘test’ becomes the program.  That .01% of the time that something goes wrong or there are errors – we chalk it up to why we ‘doing the test first’!  Everyone wins.  Employees and hiring managers get to tell you where you messed up without feeling like they’re stepping on toes.  You get to correct your errors without feeling like an idiot. The company moves forward – faster.


One thought on “Launch and Learn

  1. Some great thoughts here Tim, thanks for sharing. Certainly the occasional failure is an important ingredient in the recipe for innovation. Just one observation on this though – if even your tests are working 99.9% of the time, are you being innovative enough?

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