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I'm going to make this question as general as possible, as I've encountered similar problems elsewhere, those curious about the specific conditions can read below the break.

In ~2 months time, I'll be leaving my current position. My manager is aware and asked me to "clean house" and optimize where I saw opportunities. I leapt at the chance to have some free time to implement a new procedure I have been attempting to improve for almost a year. The new procedure is radically different, though I'd argue easier. It is also ~6 times faster than the previous process and requires less 'work' (there are fewer and less complicated steps).

I ordered the supplies necessary for the change to take place, and wrote what I'd call excellent documentation for my coworker to look at and then attempt. The supplies arrived today, and my colleague emailed me to let me know and then ask if I could walk him through the very specific, baby-sized steps. I responded that I'm busy and working on other, more immediate projects. I told him that he should attempt the new process but that I could make myself available at the end of the week to walk him through, if he desired. I copied my manager on this exchange so he would be aware.

I understand my colleague's reticence, as there is some potential for him to undo some significant back-end work I'd done. I told him he should not worry about this, it would be extremely simple to recover from and he should give it a shot as soon as he has the time to do so. Now I've had radio silence, and my hunch is that he expects me to show up at the end of the week and do this with him. My current inclination is to not do so unless he asks me outright, and let my manager decide who needs to give on this one. Is this the best course of action? I'd like to see my new process in swing before I leave.


Specifics I'm a sysadmin at a small firm. We're something of a managed service provider for several clients, we build Linux laptops for them by purchasing what you could charitably call consumer-grade laptops and installing a standard Linux image (with some customized applications and windows-ish DE). Since I've joined, we've followed my predecessor's process which consists of installing a vanilla Ubuntu install from a network image via PXE boot, then we run some nasty config scripts, troubleshoot drivers, and pray (repeat ad nauseam). Not only does this take hours (1.5/laptop, more if we need to more than one at once as we begin to choke out the network), but we wind up with every laptop built slightly differently as things are run in different orders, or one built gets interrupted and we forget where we were.

My solution was to purchase a cheap hard drive cloner (this one), and two SSDs to build master images on. The new procedure is to clone a master drive, drop it in a laptop to be built out, and change the hostname and mailname, rather than the tedious config scripts and little hacks we used to run. My colleague is reluctant to clone the master image I built, after I assured him I had a backup and gave him the same link, which contains the instructions in very plain english in the product description.


UPDATE

Two days after I asked this question, my coworker emailed me to let me know that the new process went very smoothly, and the new laptops are out for testing with the users, so far no complaints.

  • Why wasn't your manager included in this project from the beginning? – user8365 Apr 26 '16 at 20:54
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    Just go ahead and help your colleague. You talk like you're awfully eager to see this implemented, but you need to be the driving force if you want it to be done. – Amy Blankenship Apr 26 '16 at 23:35
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    @AmyBlankenship, see my comments on the answers below. I'm happy to help in any way, but my being physically present to push a button with him is non-trivial. – agentroadkill Apr 26 '16 at 23:38
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    I think you're very lucky to get even this much buy-in. I've been in situations before where I can change whatever I want, but good luck getting anyone else to adopt the change. At least you have management support and the other employee has indicated a willingness to do the procedure with you there. – Amy Blankenship Apr 26 '16 at 23:44
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    @agentroadkill Reading this question has brought back the rage I've felt for every time I got part way through a set of instructions written in plain English and had a moment of "WTF do they mean push the widgetizer button? I don't see a widgetizer button!" – Myles Apr 27 '16 at 22:23
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Sorry if this is a little confrontational. I'm just going to be honest.

my hunch is that he expects me to show up at the end of the week and do this with him.

I would have the same inclination. This scheme is your baby. You thought about this for a year, researched it, learned enough about it to create documentation, and just dumped it in his lap.

My current inclination is to not do so unless he asks me outright, and let my manager decide who needs to give on this one.

I don't understand this power-struggle. You are proposing a large change to the workflow of your organization, but for some reason you are adopting this strange passive-aggressive stance where you refuse to help your colleague, and want your manager to brow-beat him into doing it your way, without any assistance from you, before you have even tried it. Sorry, I don't get this.

Is this the best course of action?

No.

I'd like to see my new process in swing before I leave.

Your ship is sailing. Your colleague doesn't share your vision, but is willing to to try it (with your guidance). So, if you want this to happen, then drive the extra hour and try it out. Buy some snacks and sodas or something that you guys can share as you bring all the pieces together and help him through the process. Then watch the magic happen, and his eyes sparkle as he begins to catch the vision of the future. Then leave on a good note.

(I wouldn't be surprised if the process is a little harder than you assumed, and there is some unanticipated "gotcha" midstream, and he is going to need your help anyway)

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    Hmmm I was hoping this question would drive some conversation about motivation, but it appears the majority says there's no magic key. I'll take this answer as I think it best gets at the core of the problem, my coworker doesn't really want to try something new, so I'm going to have to make it happen. – agentroadkill Apr 27 '16 at 4:04
  • In my defense, the new process amounts to not much more than building a Lego set, and my documentation style matches that. I've written other documentation the coworker in question has used before without even asking about it, I was hoping this would be similar – agentroadkill Apr 27 '16 at 4:08
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    @agentroadkill I totally get that you did your best to make the documentation clear and the process easy, but this sounds like a big change that you won't be around to help with. This is a completely different situation than your past documentation efforts and that you're treating it as exactly the same as something small that you'll be around to help support is probably frustrating to your co-worker. – ColleenV Apr 27 '16 at 21:25
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I suspect your colleague is hoping that if he can ignore you for two months, you'll go away, and he can carry on doing things the way he always has.

It's got to be easier than fathoming out some wonderful new process that he doesn't know, and which you refused to explain to him.

If it's so quick, can you really not find the time to show him how it works?

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    I suspect you are correct with respect to the "waiting me out" thought. The fact that I don't have time comes more from the fact that I don't currently work in the office, I'm there about once every two weeks, as it's an hour out of my way each way. If my colleague tried to follow my directions and was confused and broke something, I'd be happy to help (and said as much). I just want him to try before I take two hours plus the 15 minutes it will take to do this out of my day. – agentroadkill Apr 26 '16 at 20:56
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    This is what the Internet is for. Set up a Skype date. – Andrew Whatever Apr 27 '16 at 21:01
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I suspect that your colleague is reluctant to try out the new process the first time alone. For all of your assurances that it is safe, he may be concerned that if the process fails, he may be stuck with the job of cleaning up. While you are saying "conform to the process", he may be hearing "be a guinea pig for the process".

I don't think it is unreasonable for your colleague to want the author of the new process to be around the first time it is tried. Is there any reason this can't wait until Friday when you are available? Remember, the documentation may be excellent to you because you designed the process and understand fully what the steps entail, to your colleague it is an unknown and that may be leading to the hesitance.

  • You can see my comment on Simon B.'s answer. Me being there is not a trivial matter. I'm happy to clear up any confusion and clean any mess, is just like him to try. – agentroadkill Apr 26 '16 at 22:01
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    I read your comment, and I understand your position. But, that doesn't change your colleague's perspective on the exercise and his possible desire to wait. – cdkMoose Apr 26 '16 at 22:04
  • Agreed. Thus we come to my question: how do I encourage him to try this on his own before going in? I don't want to be seen as harsh or not understanding, but I don't want to have to hold his hand. Maybe a third eye on the link in the question would be helpful – agentroadkill Apr 26 '16 at 22:08
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    What about Skype? – Amy Blankenship Apr 26 '16 at 23:46
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Everybody thinks their instructions are perfect, but until you test them on someone who isn't as familiar as you are and preferably is at the lowest end of the ability scale for your typical users, you'll never know for sure. Go through it with someone.

I go out of my way, to watch a user go through a set of instructions I've created and try to prompt them to "think out loud" so I can get as much feedback as possible.

Otherwise, you could miss something and the failure of this project is going to fall on you. I realize you have ways to redo any failures, but your colleague values his time as well. If you're not willing to take the time, why should he?

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