CAD Manager's Q&A: Preventing Chaos25 Sep, 2007 By: Robert Green
Even when I get new procedures in place, train everybody, and feel like I've made some progress in reducing the chaos in our office, it always seems to return. Why? What can I do to stop it for once and for all?
Robert Green replies: To stop chaos for once and for all? I've never found an answer for that one. To keep chaos in check and minimized? Now that I can help with!
Here are some tips I've used to help clients manage disorder, and they seem to work every time. There's nothing magic here, just solid common sense management that never goes out of style.
Point out chaos when you see it. When you point out chaotic processes, people are forced to confront the reality of the problem. This is the number-one tip I use to reduce chaos in the first place and to keep it minimized over time. Essentially, the issue is that people have short memories and they'll tend to go back to their prior habits, which caused the chaos in the first place. So by pointing out the problem as soon as people backslide into chaotic processes, you'll have a fighting chance to control the situation.
Circulate standards, procedures, and training materials again and again. By pointing out that you've already done the leg work to get better procedures in place and that you've documented them in writing and with training, you remove any excuse anyone has for not following procedure. This tip also insulates you from users going around you to complain about procedures because management will see how proactive you've been in the past.
Stick to your guns. Send the message that you won't back down from reducing chaos unless management specifically orders you to do so. Users must understand that making things work smoothly and profitably are your primary motivations as CAD manager and that only management can change the equation. Now you and I both know that management is never going to vote for chaos and inefficiency, so they'll have to back you up. And when users see management firmly backing you, there's really no more argument.
If you use these techniques to combat the return of chaos, you'll make great strides toward improved upper management support for your procedures and reducing user complaints at the same time. Admittedly you have to get aggressive and stand your ground to make these techniques work, but I've always found the effort to be worthwhile.