Rethink How Humans and Machines Will Work Together

Rethink How Humans and Machines Will Work Together

Productivity gains from automation are not resulting in job losses, but are enabling companies to redeploy employees to handle higher-value tasks and a greater volume of work.

Automation is creating a polar shift in how work gets done. While technology assists human intelligence today, in the digital organization of the future, intelligent technology will be assisted by humans.

Already, automation is eliminating what I call “swivel chair” work: the mundane, manual cut-paste-and-compare work people have been forced to do between disparate enterprise applications, spreadsheets and scripts.

Such tasks are now being performed by digital robots. Indeed, almost any business process that interfaces digitally and follows standardized business rules can be easily automated. The fact is, robots are better at following rules-based processes than their human counterparts. That is, until they come across a situation that does not follow the standard protocol or requires cognitive decisions beyond repetitive process rules. This is where human teammates provide the needed support to their digital partners and where higher-value decision making is required.

That polar shift

When humans come face-to-face with the polar shift, they usually have a range of responses, from elation at the prospect that unwanted activities can be eliminated, to fear and uncertainty regarding job security.

Yet concerns about job loss are usually overblown, at least at the moment, according to recent research from ISG. The ISG Automation Index found the application of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is enabling enterprises to execute business processes five to ten times faster, with an average of 37% less labor, as measured by full-time equivalent (FTE) resources. Such productivity gains, the report said, are not resulting in job losses, but are enabling companies to redeploy employees to handle higher-value tasks and a greater volume of work.

The report noted: “Humans are working alongside software robots, be they virtual agents or engineers, to increase their abil­ity to take more customer calls, resolve more service desk tickets and process more invoices. This improved productivity is seeing important downstream effects: increasing operational speed and scalability, improving compliance and avoiding future costs.”

In one real-world example, robots were deployed to take over the task of keying broker quote request information that had been previously performed by insurance underwriters. Automating this work freed these underwriters from mundane data entry and enabled them to focus on their real jobs, including “underwriting risk” and producing quotes. In this instance, the underwriters were truly elated as the mundane and meaningless parts of their jobs were eliminated. The result was a faster turn-around of requested policy quotes, capture of a larger market share of bids, and ultimately an increase in binding revenue.

Viewing automation as a way to eliminate both work and people can be a short-sighted strategy. It is far wiser for senior executives to consider RPA as one lever within a broader transformational journey toward becoming a truly digital company. This entails understanding how RPA can support the digital backbone of the enterprise with automation and then understanding the predictive analytics capability – and growth opportunities – that automation can enable.

Understanding the broader digital transformational journey puts RPA and considerations about what will happen with various job roles in a different light. The opportunity for job creation in this space is yet to be fully understood, but it is certain to create new roles and new jobs that are often difficult to envision at the outset of the journey.

Automation is about taking the robot out of the human by eliminating work that is standardized, rules-based and process rich. While roles and jobs are certainly impacted by automation, there are also important benefits for those humans who can adapt themselves to becoming part of the emerging digital enterprise. These include:

  • Freeing up time to focus on higher-value activities;
  • Timely handling of internal and external customer service requirements that robots are unable to perform (the human touch);
  • Leveraging and controlling the work of digital teammates to achieve higher levels of accuracy, service speed and auditability;
  • Creating a digital labor center of excellence with humans who assist automation rather than being assisted by automation;
  • Providing digital analytics that improve insights into the business that were previously unavailable; and
  • Reducing the use of outsourcing and offshoring as a labor arbitrage strategy by bringing work back onshore to be managed by humans interfacing with digital workforces.

To take full advantage of what RPA has to offer, business leaders must begin shifting their thinking to understand how the digital company aligns to the digital economy. They also must think about how they can help employees shift toward the use and management of automation capabilities, freeing up both labor and budgets to be invested in the transformation of the organization to the new operating model.

The automation “polar shift” is more about an operating model change than it is about a technology change. Technology in and of itself is not transformation. True operational transformation – involving people, processes and technology – is required to take full advantage of digital automation. In the end, automation is a business enablement tool that will be supported by intelligent humans doing higher-value work. This is the future of the digital enterprise.

Source: informationweek.com- Rethink How Humans and Machines Will Work Together

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What does automation mean for G&A and the back office?

A lot. By incorporating available technologies, redeploying employees and reimagining processes, companies can dramatically increase performance and greatly reduce costs.

The performance of general and administrative (G&A) functions varies dramatically among companies, and the differential is poised to widen. As new forms of automation—fueled by advances in areas such as robotics and artificial intelligence—transform the world of work, G&A functions will be transformed, too.

Some of the impact will show up in costs. We’ve shown before that top-quartile companies operate at nearly half the cost of their bottom-quartile counterparts in the same sector. Those cost differentials will grow with the increasing use of automation.

Just as important, automation brings with it the potential to improve the quality, speed, and flexibility of work dramatically—and this is where some of the most exciting opportunities in G&A reside. Successful G&A-improvement programs, which in our experience can generate twice as much impact from gains in effectiveness as from increased efficiency, not only improve decision making and the allocation of resources but also help employees to work more effectively. As the pace of automation accelerates, the opportunities for improving performance will only increase.

Technical possibilities

McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) research suggests that companies can automate at least 30 percent of the activities in about 60 percent of all occupations by using technologies available today. These findings are consistent with what we’ve seen in the G&A functions of many companies. For example, about 20 percent of the tasks of a typical finance unit’s record-to-report (R2R) process are fully automatable (requiring no human intervention) and nearly 50 percent are mostly so (with technology undertaking most of the work). Similarly, in the HR hire-to-retire (H2R) process, about 30 percent of all tasks can be fully automated and another 30 percent mostly automated.

As the cost of technology falls and its capabilities grow in areas such as robotic process automation, machine learning, and natural-language generation, the economic case for automation is improving rapidly. A major financial institution recently found that it made economic sense to automate nearly 35 percent of finance-function tasks right now. The technology to automate another 35 percent of tasks—though not in a remunerative way—was technically feasible.

Strategic potential

What those automation figures fail to reflect are the possibilities created by reimagining business processes. Assigning machines to handle discrete tasks and plugging new technologies into existing processes may generate savings, but they won’t take advantage of automation’s potential to elevate your G&A function into a more strategic asset. That requires redesigning processes and organizational structures around both current and anticipated automation technologies.

Of course, sustaining G&A improvements has always forced companies to get things done in new ways, to reconfigure roles, and to adapt the workplace culture. But the changes are likely to be bigger for large-scale automation efforts. Consider the experience of a global insurance firm that used a set of automation technologies to redesign an overwhelmingly manual and error-prone process. At any given time, tens of thousands of policies were held up as a result of exceptions, and management faced mounting pressure from regulators to meet mandated deadlines. More than 30 employees were tasked with working the backlog, and it took about five to seven minutes to bring each policy out of limbo.

Robotic process automation provided a way out of this logjam, as high-performing employees were redeployed to more valuable work. The automated process virtually eliminated errors, cut processing time by 50 percent, and reduced costs by even more. The new, automated process also proved highly scalable.

Another major financial institution, already long established as an industry leader in efficiency, embarked on a rapid program to incorporate automation technologies—such as robotic process automation and natural-language generation—into its processes. Taking advantage of existing market-ready innovations, the company launched use-case pilots to validate new opportunities and build out the necessary capabilities. Even more significantly, rather than just considering how to apply innovations to existing steps of traditional workflows, the company realized that it could reap the greatest benefits by redesigning existing processes—grouping automatable tasks, eliminating handoffs, and resequencing approvals to get the most out of automation. That resulted in a wholly novel model, which drove game-changing performance and efficiency improvements. A reimagined regulatory reporting process, for example, made it possible to complete, in as little as an hour, steps that had previously taken a week (exhibit).

 

 

Into the future

Companies understand that getting started is the easy part; a small centralized team, with help from third parties, can build a few bots or algorithms. But scaling is hard. One way to keep the momentum going after demonstrating early success is to support automation efforts across functions and lines of business by establishing centers of excellence (COE). Effective ones create user-friendly playbooks, contribute advanced expertise, build business cases, manage vendor relationships, track the impact of changes, and develop new capabilities. By working with the business to execute organizational change, maintain automation solutions, and manage risks, the most successful of these units also ensure that automation has a real impact.

One of the biggest risks of automation is demotivating or frightening the people your organization must mobilize to compete effectively. Some of the fears are misplaced: humans are needed to build bots and to “teach” artificial-intelligence platforms how to perform their tasks, some of which will always require the active involvement of humans. Critically important social, emotional, and creative capabilities, for example, are difficult to automate. Bots can’t persuade a leader to run a business unit in a different way or design a new human-resources strategy with millennials in mind.

But automation, if implemented effectively, will inevitably lead to changes in organizational structures, to redefined roles—and, sometimes, to redundancies. There’s no point in pretending these realities don’t exist or trying to hide an automation program behind closed doors. Honesty and transparency are critical. So is a commitment from top management to pursue, as part of any automation effort, initiatives that will benefit employees by eliminating routine work they don’t enjoy, creating opportunities for them to acquire new and increasingly important technical skills, and using the proceeds of automation to fund roles that support the business in exciting new ways. Finally, it’s imperative to be open, from the outset, about how you will treat employees who no longer have a role in the organization.

None of this is easy, but the alternative—being caught flat footed as competitors gain an edge through automation—is a risk that’s not worth taking. Automation at its best can help companies to uncover entirely new ways of executing traditional processes and radically new possibilities for operating more quickly, efficiently, and effectively. That makes automation a strategic imperative for G&A functions. The top-quartile companies of tomorrow will be the companies that start the journey today.

Source: McKinsey-What does automation mean for G&A and the back office?

Clear goals, patience required for successful IT automation strategy

“Automation” is a scary word for many IT workers — who contemplate images of robots, software and the like stealing their jobs as it becomes the norm.

But according to speakers at the annual Automation Innovation conference in New York last month, the short-term goal for an IT automation strategy should be to empower knowledge workers — not simply replace them.

“If you do the integration and infusion [of automation technology] correctly, you will expand [knowledge workers’] capabilities; you will not detract from them,” said conference speaker R.G. Conlee, CIO of Conduent. “We are not out to just replace people.”

More than 300 attendees packed the Bohemian National Hall in New York City for the conference to discuss IT automation strategy and potential roadmaps to make this strategy successful. Conference organizers noted that the goal was to help attendees “transition from traditional labor to RPAintelligent automation and cognitive computing.”

But to realize the great business potential of IT process automation and attain a positive return on investment, it’s important to start with concrete goals such as improving price points or a particular process.

“It pays to focus on a specific purpose for automation rather than thinking of it as a broad platform with extended capabilities,” said Bill Galusha, senior product marketing manager of software provider Kofax.

Automation innovation challenges

Conlee noted that many companies have experienced “digital disillusionment” when it comes to the latest technological fads. CIOs and other members of the C-suite, have gotten tired of chasing the latest shiny new technological toy, Conlee said, and are seeking definitive results from these investments.

“They are saying we want it to be practical, something we can use, and we want it to make a difference,” Conlee said. “In other words, we want to improve the way work is done; we don’t just want new ways of doing the work.”

It’s important to remember that moving to automation takes patience, Conlee added, because many IT and digital systems actually negatively impact productivity while they are being integrated with company processes. Implementation of automation is a big challenge, and a plan is required that takes speed to market and complexity into consideration, he added.

We want to improve the way work is done; we don’t just want new ways of doing the work.

R.G. ConleeCIO, Conduent

“There is a training curve for digital systems that does not elicit better work in the short term; it takes time to get there,” Conlee said.

An IT automation strategy can be a huge help when it comes to one common issue facing modern digitized companies, Galusha said: process and data complexity. Because these companies are responsible for many systems with numerous internal/external data sources, it is difficult to connect all that information to the company’s processes.

A robotic process automation strategy can help with consolidating data for analytics purposes, Galusha said, and apply unique business rules to information contained in these numerous data sources.

“Your processes, and how you are making decisions, [is] only as good as the information,” Galusha said. “If you are doing it manually, it’s slow, it’s inefficient, and you’re probably making errors along the way.”

Galusha was quick to point out that obstacles to the automation revolutionremain. Robots still have difficulty with distinguishing visual content such as invoices, purchase orders and email correspondence, for example.

“We also have to understand the complexity, really understand the use cases and how more sophisticated learning technology can be applied,” Galusha said.

IKEA’s automated customer service

Speakers at the conference also noted that automation will bring cost savings in the long run, but it could also expand business opportunities and help provide better premium service to customers. One company that is seeing these types of benefits is IKEA, which uses process automation to improve customer experience and engagement.

Martijn Zuiderbaan, Solution Owner at IKEA Retail AB, noted that IKEA is responsible for its entire supply chain, so prior to its implementation of automation, there were several potential areas that could have benefitted from it. The company decided to start small, by implementing automation processes into its customer call centers, with the goal of making its online customer service more efficient, engaging and effective.

“I think most enterprise companies are working towards a perfect future where all their solutions can talk to each other and everything works together, communicates and shares data,” Zuiderbaan said. “The reality is not really there.”

IKEA receives 20 million customer inquiries per year via voicemail, chat, mail and social media, Zuiderbaan said. The company is using automation to keep up with this demand and help it engage with customers in a smarter way.

In short, Zuiderbaan said the automation solutions were used to meet IKEA’s need to bridge gaps in the existing IT solutions to improve both customer and worker experience at the furniture giant.

“We tried to be more efficient, we tried to make our co-workers more engaged, and we tried to make work more effective,” Zuiderbaan said of IKEA’s automation efforts. “By combining these three, we tried to get a better customer experience.”

 

Source: searchcio.techtarget.com-Clear goals, patience required for successful IT automation strategy

How to create an enterprise transformation roadmap

The rapidly evolving techno-society is increasing competition for all kinds of businesses and forcing them to create a plan for enterprise transformation. Here’s advice to help.

Businesses are at a nexus point. They’re competing in the rapidly evolving global “techno-society,” one that is independent of political and country boundaries and driven by inexpensive access to advanced mobile digital technology. Most people under 35 are power users of mobile devices and apps — they rely on them for entertainment, life style services, business and much more. Most people over 35, while they are generally not power users of mobile tech, have also integrated it into their lives. Almost everyone today in the developed world is connected to the internet and through it to almost anything that can be imagined.

Globalization has created an internet-based sales race in which the contestants are working to focus on the customer and the way he or she interacts with social apps, websites and companies they buy from. Customers want to determine how they interact with companies, and they want the interactions to be as pleasant as possible. Otherwise, customers will simply go elsewhere.

These dynamics are driving companies to establish an enterprise transformation roadmap: rethinking many business operations and their IT support and evolving the face of business and the role of the CIO. While CIOs must deal with legacy technologyand applications, they must also become expert in emerging technology and business and market concepts. And they must find a way to modernize their technology operating environment and sell the need to improve to senior management. Developing these “sales” skills and building a compelling case for this evolution will become critical to CIOs and CTOs.

Important questions CIOs and business leaders should be asking are: Has the company defined how it will compete in the future and what markets it will move into? Has management identified what will need to be done to succeed in the new global techno-society and the digital marketplace? Is the company ready to do what it needs in order to win in this new global techno-marketplace? Is IT ready to support this type and level of change? Is the company ready to invest in moving from a siloed business organization to a collaborative one that matrixes business, IT, change management and customer care?

Of course, IT and the business sides will have different perspectives when considering those questions. But they must align. To survive the changes that are clearly coming, companies must radically rethink the way they look at business operations and IT support — and transform them.

Beating the odds

Many senior officer committees resist — and there will likely be a high price to pay. According to 2016 research from Innosight Consulting LLC, the average tenure of companies on the S&P 500 has been on a downward slope. It was 33 years in 1965 and is expected to shrink to 14 years by 2026.

Companies will need to … replace the current IT infrastructure with more integrated technology, minus the manual and program work-around activity taking place at so many businesses today.

I believe companies can beat this projection if they are willing to refocus from cost reduction to growth and create and execute on an enterprise transformation roadmap. That means aggressively looking at the new global techno-society and deciding how to compete.

This enterprise transformation must be driven from the top with a new corporate market and operating vision and a solid strategy on how to achieve that vision. This means that the company will need to invest in itself and commit to controlling its evolution. It also means casting off many of the time-honored concepts of business operations and IT support and building a strong collaboration between the business and enterprise architects who will design the new operation and the process architects who will build it.

CIOs and CTOs will need to rethink IT capabilities and how the business and customers will be supported. The first step will be figuring out how to transition from the old, legacy IT and business operations to a flexible, collaborative model. This new operating model will integrate the business and IT sides of transformation with culture redesign and change management, delivering a result that includes people, process and technology.

Companies will need to create a long-term IT investment plan and eventually replace the current IT infrastructure with more integrated technology, minus the manual and program work-around activity taking place at so many businesses today. Eliminating legacy applications that simply impede change and require a high overhead of specialized staff will reduce process bottlenecks. And new, flexible tools — such as those for business process management suites (BPMSes), robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI) — will need to be licensed and integrated. These tools will likely need to support business at multiple locations and may or may not be cloud-based. So the plan will need to consider communications capabilities as well.

Fortunately for CIOs and CTOs today, technology is being delivered to help them create a new service architecture, one that enables continued use of legacy application functionality and data. Both BPMS and RPA tools support APIs that can interact with legacy applications. The result: a hybrid environment of old and new technologies that delivers flexibility through the BPMS and/or RPA environments.

Prerequisites

Clearly the basis for this enterprise transformation roadmap is the willingness of senior officers to adopt an appropriate change perspective that is based on an understanding of what is possible with emerging technology and a market analysis. This is not an optional step. The level of change that is needed in most companies is invasive and pervasive. It will be disruptive and will require building new relationships with managers and staff who have largely been on the receiving end of staff cuts and outsourcing. Getting this acceptance by all levels of management and staff members, and then rebuilding trust, is a game changer, but enterprise transformation can’t succeed without it.

To help senior management visualize this new operating environment, the process owners within the company, staff (managers, key workers, possibly HR) and IT (CIO and CTO) will need to collaboratively create a vision summary, including an “outcome” model showing how the business will be structured and function once the evolution is completed. This collaborative committee will work with senior management to determine how the company will change to deliver strategy and strategic goals. The conceptual business model they create will be the foundation for a new IT digital transformation strategy.

The collaborative committee must identify the current “box” within which a new strategy will be designed, identifying factors that could constrain the strategy (including but not limited to financial realities and government regulations) and determining whether any of the constraints can be eliminated or mitigated. This step is critical. It is easy to design a solution that cannot be built. This current “box” will provide a starting point for the digital transformation of IT.

Within this framework, business and process architects will need to consider how the business should change and how the operation will support that change. This will begin at a process level and align to organization units at the sub-process level and to the staff at the workflow and task levels. The new operating model will define the IT support requirements that the CIO and CTO will need to consider as they redefine the company’s IT infrastructure and approach to support. While the transformation will take years to complete if a reasonable investment model is followed, the result will be a company that is built on modern business concepts and supported by flexible technology that is capable of rapid change.

 

Source: searchcio.techtarget.com-How to create an enterprise transformation roadmap

7 Questions You Need To Ask Yourself Before Taking On A Big Project

Seven years. That’s how long filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos plugged away at Making a Murderer before they partnered with Netflix, and the series became a true crime sensation. While the idea of being an overnight sensation is nice, most big ideas need lots of time to develop. But how can you tell whether your new business idea or project is worth sinking months or years of your life into? Here are seven questions that might help you set your sights.

1. Can I State My Specific Goal For This Project?

While turning a profit (or at least breaking even) is a straightforward goal, some projects require a more specific finish line. For Chicago writer Jonathan Eig, he initially had the idea for a biography of Muhammad Ali in the spring of 2013 but would need to craft a solid proposal in order to sell the idea. “I knew there wasn’t an authoritative biography of Ali out there. I’d gotten a sense that I’d get his ex-wife to cooperate, and I believed that there was a ton of new material out there that hadn’t been seen before,” he says. His eventual proposal netted him a contract by February 2014, and his book, Ali: A Life, comes out in October 2017.

Minneapolis painter Megan Rye began working on a large-scale series that documents her brother’s time serving in the Iraq war in 2003, which led to her first solo show in 2007. For her, the convergence of critical and collector interest is “the gold standard.” While just one or the other, she says, is “nice,” it’s not sustainable to only have critical interest, but “if you only have financial support, your work isn’t necessarily going to be remembered.”

Being able to articulate your goals is also essential for raising money as you go. Rye likens grants, which should be applied for before a project is completed or even fully begun, to the lottery: “You can’t win a grant unless you apply.” And the grant you apply for now may beget more funding down the line. Chicago documentarian Margaret Byrne received a $120,000 MacArthur grant for her film Raising Bertie, which she filmed for six years. The grant hooked her up with the Chicago production company Kartemquin Films and put her on the radar to receive other grants, including one for $50,000 from the Ford Foundation. “I wouldn’t have stopped making the film, but I don’t know where I would be without the support of MacArthur. That’s what made the film expand and enable me to work with Kartemquin.”

2. Can I Break It Down Into Milestones?

When a project is sprawling, it’s important to build in milestones, if only to avoid freaking out. Eig was excited but also terrified at the prospect of writing a definitive biography of Ali. “It seemed like more than one person could handle, because there’s so much information on him out there, with so many people to talk to. You have to follow your heart but also be analytical about it.” To avoid feeling a sense of overwhelmed panic before starting a project, Eig starts small. “I just start with reading some books, and file some FOIA requests.”

For Byrne, the shorter-term goal was to have a 10-minute demo of Raising Bertieto sketch out her characters and the intention of the film. “That will give funders a solid idea of what you’re trying to do, even if you’re in the beginning stages.” She was able to pull one together in four months.

Rye kept her eye on the prize by keeping exhibition deadlines in mind. “Without exhibitions, I don’t know how anyone would ever complete a body of work. You can endlessly improve and tinker.”

In mid-2012, Steve McFadden quit his job as a mechanic to find a more meaningful career. He started Revolution Coffee Roasters that opened in summer 2013. It’s growing and doing well, but slowly. He maintains his sanity by scheduling six-month check-ins. “We’ve planned this in short-term increments so we can evaluate, ‘This is where we are right now, this is what we can budget for, and this is how lean we’ll have to be this period.’”

3. Do I Have Trusted Sources That Will Provide Me With Valuable Feedback As I Proceed?

Katie Mehnert wasn’t sure at first that her idea was a good one. In April 2014, she left her job as the director of competence, capability, and culture at BP to take a career break. She tinkered with an idea she’d had the year before, and in March 2015, created Pink Petro, a social media platform created for women professionals in the energy industry. “The more I started taking ideas from my head and really putting them out there, people were like ‘Yeah!’ And before you knew it we were on. People were calling and saying, ‘I heard you have a new gig!’ and I was like, ‘We haven’t formed a company yet.’”

While it can be tempting to play your cards close to your vest on a project that’s not a guaranteed success, Byrne says, “It’s important that you do not make your film in a bubble.” Getting other perspectives is key for her, because ultimately, “You’re not making the film for yourself, you’re making the film for an audience.” For her, showing several rough cuts of Raising Bertie in Chicago and North Carolina elicited key feedback that helped shape the film.

Rye agrees. “If you’re applying for shows, talking to curators or collectors and no one is interested, you’ll know, ‘Is this going to be a passion project where I’m alone in my basement slaving away and no one will see this?’” Had she not shared her work as it went, her entire life might have been different: The immediate interest her work garnered led to artistic representation. “That project changed the trajectory of my whole career,” one she had assumed would lead to a life in academia, and not as a working artist.

4. How Long Can I Get By On Little To No Money?

“I think I’m a horrible business person,” Byrne admits. By necessity, she chose to turn down other jobs in order to devote herself to Raising Bertie, which didn’t receive funding until four years into filming. While she was able to take on a few freelance projects while filming, making money wasn’t her priority. “In some ways it can’t be if you are taking the time and the patience to tell these stories.”

Eig’s projects involve a leap of financial faith as well. “When you’re in the proposal phase, you don’t know if somebody else might come up with the same idea, or maybe nobody wants to buy it at all.” Even when a project is bought, he says, “There will be years when I’m between signing the contract and delivering that I don’t get paid. One year I made $10,000: That was my contribution to my family.”

With Pink Petro, Mehnert went two years without pay. “I wanted to demonstrate the passion I had for the business. I’m taking a salary now–I’m not earning what I was earning before, but I didn’t set out to replace my income. I wanted to do something that was meaningful. I’m a firm believer that when you’re passionate and you have meaning in your life, the payback comes.”

5. Is My Family On Board With This?

Every married person interviewed for this story cited their supportive spouse as a reason that they were able to chase their dreams. McFadden’s wife has provided both emotional and financial support. “I’ve seen many other business where it became too much pressure on somebody’s marriage and they had to make a choice–either this is going to be destructive to my family, or I have to call it quits. Fortunately, I have somebody that is solidly in my corner and believes in what I’m doing.”

Mehnert’s husband was a little incredulous when she told him her plan for a career change, but she said that the challenge actually strengthened their relationship as they evaluated their finances and needs. “I tell young women all the time, ‘You’ve got to marry right because this is a sacrifice for a longer term opportunity.’ To my husband’s credit, he saw way more in it than I did.”

6. Could I Walk Away If I Had To?

Nobody wants to spend time on something only to have it lead nowhere, but it’s better to pull the plug rather than try to force it halfheartedly. Byrne had to walk away from a source on her current documentary project after following him for six months. “I decided it wasn’t the story that I needed to tell,” she says.

Eig similarly pursued a biography proposal that he ended up dropping. “That was painful,” he says, but a dearth of material, a less-than-promising sales prospective and a simple lack of fondness for his source ended his relationship with his project. He likens a long-term project to dating. “You have to decide, am I going to stick with this girl or not? There’s things you like and things you don’t like, and at some point you get to a moment, I can’t take it anymore, I’m out of here.”

7. Can I Handle A Rough Ride?

Perhaps you just had a baby or endured the death of a loved one. The point is, there’s nothing wrong with admitting that perhaps it’s not the best time to take something on that might cause heartache or stress.

With a long-term gamble, Eig says, “You have to embrace the uncertainty, and to come up with a good idea, you have to go through a lot of bad ideas. You hope those bad ideas don’t take you too far astray, but they do sometimes.” For his 2014 book, The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution, Eig persevered despite his agent telling him people thought the book would be “small to medium-sized” at best. He reasoned, “They could be right, they could be wrong, but it’s an important enough subject, and I will feel good for telling the story, because I think it needs to be told.”

 

Source: Fast Company-7 Questions You Need To Ask Yourself Before Taking On A Big Project