Grant Laviale

Pilot Runs in Everyday Business

The definition of a "pilot" is the launch of an experimental project to analyze the results for necessary corrections in order to constantly improve and streamline business practices

Have you ever conducted or managed a “pilot run” at your organization? The definition of a “pilot” is the launch of an experimental project to analyze the results for necessary corrections in order to constantly improve and streamline business practices. I am not sure why, but it recently dawned on me that this is perhaps why I am where I am in my career. The constant need to improve process, streamline operations, and the enjoyment of working smarter as an organization is what propels me .I enjoy these experiments in improved processes of elimination and have conducted them since I was in my early twenties.

In the late 1980s, I got my first chance to conduct a true pilot at the First Interstate bank. My location was the pilot for the state of California in order to see if people needed an in-person bank teller. They installed video-style interactive ATMs inside the main lobby area where you could talk to a remote teller as needed. Most transactions could just be handled by the client at their desired ATM station. The idea was way ahead of its time. Online banking is now the norm, and in-person tellers are dwindling.

Recently I’ve been working on a pilot that I am confident will roll company-wide. We are working on a concept to standardize HOW forms and documents are uploaded and recorded in order to decrease the amount of mistakes or missed files.

I realized we had a problem when a loan advisor discovered that operations and support people were using two separate methods to upload conditions for review. Further, those items could get “auto-archived” or go missing, even though they were all there.

People weren’t using the available tools and technology correctly and it became a breeding ground for mistakes. We established a standardized agreement across all departments from underwriting, processing, production assistants, to loan advisors that on an effective date, everyone must upload conditions as instructed. Miraculously, auto archives are a thing of the past. Missed files aren’t occurring, and the process is defined. Some people who naturally resist change tried fighting it, but that’s why we held weekly accountability calls for the first month. Soon, we will roll out to the region, then division and company.

My passion for consistent improvement is one of my central core values and drives my desire for pilots. If you observe an area within the organization that could be enhanced and believe you have the solution, please approach your leadership, advise them, and offer to run the pilot. What do you have to lose? It is rewarding to see the impact for the better. No pilot is terrible, you’ll always learn from it whether it works or not.I have had some myself where we agreed that perhaps it’s best to leave things alone.

So here is my challenge to you and your organization for this month. Ensure Improvement consistence. Strive to improve and be open to running pilots. If you don’t figure things out, someone else will, and it may be your competition.

I look forward to opening up the current pilot on a larger scale within the next thirty days and will keep you updated.

Until next time, Cheers!


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