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See the Forest and the Trees

See the Forest and the Trees

Depending on who you are, where you are, and what you do; your onboarding case will have a set of tasks built uniquely for you. You may not even get an onboarding case at all, contractors often don’t. Your team will need to work together to figure out which onboarding processes are defined on paper, which exist but are yet to be written down, and which are critical or superfluous. Naturally there’s a lot of complexity to be documented, organized, and prioritized during onboarding projects.

It’s important to face these challenges in a Minimum Viable Product manner. What does that mean? Engineers prefer to release the most basic version of their core idea with only one or two essential features. Doing so prevents wasting time and money chasing ghosts and ensures that developers are solving real business problems. The best way to guide towards an MVP solution is to start by looking from a high level point of view, or by looking at the forest:

  • What are the primary types of trees in this forest?

  • Where is our forest located?

  • What are the general climate conditions in the area?

  • What are we supposed to be accomplishing with this forest?

Look at the onboarding problem at its highest level first blurs out tiny details and shows the overall picture.

  • Who are we onboarding?

  • What are the types of services included in onboarding?

  • What does the onboarding process look like today?

  • What known problems are we attempting to solve?

Now keep that high level explanation of onboarding on hand and consider it your project’s mission statement. It’s the “why are we here” that is unusually easy to blur. There will be many shiny objects, obstacles, distractions, and other sources of noise which will take the project team’s focus away from the goal and into a specific and oftentimes irrelevant problem.

It’s a bit of an art to know when the right time is to put a pin in the hypotheticals and bring everyone back to reality, but I’ve generally focused on how many levels of imagination are at play. For example, there’s what did happen, my level 1 imagination of what happened, my level 2 imagined implications based on my previous assumptions, and further levels that recursively spin off into fiction. So if a workshop conversation is constantly at level 3+ of imagination, it’s time to reel it back in. What does the onboarding process look like today? What problem are we trying to solve? Is this an MVP solution to our problem? Show me. Let me show you.

It sounds simple, but it’s not. A bit of imagination is a great catalyst to start rolling the ball and building momentum, but unorganized imagination often leads to wasted effort and can paralyze a project. There are far too many real and imagined dependencies in software development to worry about all of them. Shifting one’s perspective between both the forest and the trees can help a team maintain momentum. Keep the problems that you’re solving based on reality. Which is to say based on documentation, stories, and proven test steps. Is that a problem worth solving? Maybe. Put it in the backlog and let’s find out after our MVP solution exists.

About The Author: 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.

Want to chat with Kevin? Connect with him on LinkedIn, here.


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 250+ 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.

For more information or to schedule a call with our team, drop a note to aloha@theanti.com!