“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” -Theodore Roosevelt
Over my years of supporting, implementing, and creating complex software solutions I’ve benefited more from what I’ve learned about human nature than what I have about software itself. The hardest part of this has nothing to do with resolving the intermittent technical issue that only occurs within a certain context; the hardest part is communicating one’s ideas in a supportive and welcoming way that encourages people in distress to participate. Each project comes with its own set of unique emotional, technical and contextual challenges, all of which are likely to be stressors for people who don’t do this sort of work every day. To me, each problem comes as a fun one to solve, but to others they may look like showstoppers or career-enders. I’ve come to learn that no matter what the “problem” is, it’s my responsibility to take ownership of it.
The technical issue itself may have been caused by a misconfiguration done by someone else, a legacy customization done by previous implementation teams, a defect within ServiceNow itself, or a simple misunderstanding of features and functionality. No matter what the actual issue is, it’s likely that many will view me (the technical consultant) as the source of the issue. However, it’s only by working with someone who may be upset with me that we are ever able to clearly identify and resolve any problem and thus co-create value. You’re angry at me because the thing doesn’t work? That’s good - I’m happy that you are here and I’m happy that you care, now let’s talk about it.
I don’t know a customer’s business like our customers do and they don’t know software and ServiceNow like I do. Anything that prevents a connection of those two sources of information is in itself a blocker to a successful project. As Epictetus said there are two handles by which any situation can be carried and only one of them carries. The other handle, fraught with finger pointing, insecurity, and assumptions is too heavy. It’s much easier to set it down, to live well, to think well, and be well by choosing the handle that does carry. The handle that forgives people for anything and looks for opportunities to support, help, and create a better future together. The handle that reminds you that self-discipline is for you yourself, and that your view towards others needs to be one of tolerance and acceptance.
It’s easy to forget, but we are all members of an interconnected global consciousness known as the human race. Our own experiences, impressions, and interpretations paint the world with whichever color brush we choose and influences our perceptions. It’s really up to us to recognize how important this decision – the perspective we are choosing – is and how insignificant everything else is in comparison. Marcus Aurelius famously wrote to himself in his journal Meditations, “Just that you do the right thing. The rest doesn’t matter.” No matter what may be putting the current project at risk, no matter what negative feedback you may be receiving, not that you did the right thing yesterday, not that you will do the right thing tomorrow; just that you do the right thing [right now].
When you can take this philosophy into high stress situations and maintain it no matter the results, then you’re on the fastest track towards co-creation of value and a successful software implementation. The goal isn’t that the outcome looks the way that you wanted it to, the goal is that the outcome looks better than it would have otherwise because you’ve done your best. Maintaining this habit (and making it through Phase 1 as a team) leads to more co-creation of value and faster process digitization.
It’s also a great thing to remember when three hangry children are yelling at you and each other from the back seat while you’re navigating rush hour traffic. Co-creation of value can be found by getting those kids their snacks and then doing something fun, not by entertaining and participating in the childhood conflict of the moment. Am I a bad parent? Why don’t my kids get along? Is this project destined to fail? Will any of this work the way we want it to?
Those handles don’t lead to value so pick another story. The human mind has the power to choose its own adventure. I generally prefer not to be punched in the face, but for an aspiring boxer it’s a part of their training. Getting punched in the face might be the shock to their system that releases the adrenaline, endorphins, and focus they need to get back into a fight. That’s a radically different interpretation than I would adopt if I were punched on a public sidewalk. Why? What mental power is a trained boxer exercising that I am not? Can we maintain that same perspective when implementations start to get rough? If we can remember that it’s normal for problems to arise during a project, then we can also take the hit like a fighter and move onto the next round with our head in the game. It’s normal for challenges to arise, usual even, and it would be unusual to interpret them as otherwise.
A bit about Kevin: Kevin has over fifteen years of experience in process digitization, software implementation, and product development. His purpose is to improve human experiences through technological solutions by providing technical support, database administration, software implementation, project management, user training, and software customization. After discovering the ServiceNow platform he realized its potential to improve our collective experiences at work.
About The Anti: In 2017, we realized traditional HR technology consulting desperately needed an overhaul. So, we flipped the script on consulting culture.
We grew a team with expertise in real world HR process design and technology implementation
We aggregated and refined the best practices we’d already proven elsewhere
We rejected traditional friction points and changed consulting culture for the better
It caught on, and we have since delivered 350+ ServiceNow HRSD engagements as the only elite ServiceNow Partner committed to the employee experience workflow products. The Anti brings a unique blend of HR Consulting experience, HR Technology backgrounds, and HR Practitioner expertise to every engagement.
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