Standardizing Your Company – Part 11: Modular Rollout

In last week’s post we discussed how to make your committee decisions official so that they can last through “generations” of employees at your company.  So your committee has finished the first major item on The List, it’s been made official via vote and documentation, and you’re ready to move on.  It may seem natural to keep the committee rolling on to the next task and store it all up for one massive rollout, but you must resist that temptation.  Read about a better approach after the jump.

Rolling out standards is like hitting fly balls to an outfielder.  As the ball approaches, the player analyzes the hit, adjusts his position, and plans what he will do with the ball when it is caught…all while the ball is in the air.  This is completely doable for most people.  Now try hitting 10 fly balls simultaneously to a single outfielder.  If he’s lucky, he’ll catch one but more likely will curl up in a ball and cover his head with his arms.

The massive standards rollout is the 10-fly-ball scenario and will produce a similar reaction in your end users.  They will be able to field a single change or group of similar changes, but change everything at once and you’ll have disaster.  With a single change coming at them, they’ll be able to see it coming, adjust the way they work, and plan for the affect the change will have on what they produce.  Everything at once will be overwhelming, and just like the fly balls, the changes will land on the ground all around them and do nothing.

So, the approach to rolling out your standards should match your committee’s approach to developing them.  As discussed in a previous post breaking down the standards into bite-sized pieces is critical to successfully developing them, so why should it be different for the end users?  You’ll find much more success in rolling out the changes in small chunks since the end users have less to deal with and become adjusted to at any one time.

There are other benefits too.  First, your company will see results coming out of your committee much sooner and will be impressed with its progress.  You’ll get feedback about the changes sooner and will be able to respond to it and make modifications.  And…the committee can keep rolling on developing the next portion of the standards while an active rollout is going on “on the outside”.  It’s a great approach…and it works!

Next week we’ll look at the technical side of implementing the new standards.


  1. I’m partially responsible for rollout our company standard rollout for a 130+ users (9 offices). My company formed a committee years before I got there and to an extent I facilitated that committee’s actions and progress (“chair”) by dumb luck and a coincidence of circumstances. When I arrived on the committee we already had standards in place that were old, out of date, and being loosely followed. Our approach was update the standards for the current technology, fill in the gaps, publish a book (paper copies of 80+ sheets to each employee with CAD; in binder), and go around to each office for a mandatory meeting with “CAD users” (engineers and techs) and their direct manager (the person corporately responsible for making sure standards are follows; VERY IMPORTANT) to review the manual section-by-section.

    Point being, I think it was VERY important we handed out paper copies that someone could put on their desk, made a big deal about the rollout of the standard (email from the president, meeting, etc…), had the mandatory meeting with users (all) and their boss, incorporated how is responsible for making sure standards are followed (everyone’s direct boss; not 2 or 3 up the chain) and made the new standards company policy.

    In addition, we also started a program were all new employees have a “CAD sponsor”. When they come in the door we have a set CAD users at each office that is a “people person” that sits down with them on day one (1) and goes through a fixed questionnaire with the manual; actually opening the book to find the answers to reinforce that “we use standards at HRG” and gets them introduced to the standard so hopefully they just don’t gram it and put it on the shelf to collect dust. It also helps management and PMs because as soon as the new employee goes back to their desk they can hit the ground running and PM can ask them to do work and they know were drawings are, how to open them, and how to perform work to company standards. If they have question they have a person to go back to (the “sponsor”) that they already know and hopefully feel comfortable with.

    The things I pointed out above I think are what made our recent standard rollout a success! In addition, most of our CAD training is provided in-house where we teach with the standard in mind. I think a good rollout is synergy and a multi-front battle. Standards have to be incorporated into everyday work with CAD from training, to tools, to custom lisp routines, to orientation, etc… The more things they are tied into has a direct effect on the success of your rollout efforts.

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