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Sun Jan 16 16:44:41 GMT 2011

A Tale of Two Terminals

1. Cutover to any new system should be in small increments. Impossible? Don’t give up on increments too quickly – and don’t leave this to “customers” to decide! The technical risk of a big-bang cut-over is immense. And it’s almost always easier to divide the system in some way to facilitate incremental deployment than it is to deal with the virtually guaranteed chaos of a big-bang cutover.

2. Simplify before you automate. Never automate a work process until the work teams have devised as simple a work process as they possibly can. Automating the right thing is at least as important as automating it right.

3. Do not freeze work design into code! Leave as much work design as possible for work teams to determine and modify. If that is not possible, make sure that the people who will live with the new system are involved in the design of their work.

4. Rehearse! Don’t just test the technical part, include the people who will use the new system in end-to-end rehearsals. Be prepared to adapt the technical system to the social system and to refine the social system as well. Be sure everyone knows what to do; be sure that the new work design makes sense. Leave time to adjust and adapt. Don’t cut this part short.

5. Organize to manage complexity. Structure work around work teams that can adapt to changing situations, especially if the environment is complex, could change rapidly, or is mission critical. At minimum, have emergency response teams on hand when the new system goes live.

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