by Dean Witherspoon   Dean's profile on LinkedIn  

It depends. Wellness manager styles range from shoot first/ask questions later to ready, aim, aim, aim... The degree of study and preparation you put into launching a new program depends on the risk/reward potential, your personal style, and management expectations.


With very high-risk decisions — like building a fitness center — you’re likely to do a detailed benchmarking study, then test the concept by offering shower facilities and possibly classroom fitness classes for a year or more before breaking ground. A low-risk service like a noon-hour lunch ’n learn series may only require a couple phone calls to see how well it’s worked at other organizations.

Whichever technique you use to evaluate the issue, here are some pitfalls to avoid:

  • Comparing apples to oranges. A fitness center experience in the Northeast may have little in common with a site in the Southwest — even within the same organization. Be sure you’re comparing similar circumstances in as many aspects as possible.
  • Too short a test run. Some services with year-round implications can’t be adequately tested in 3 months.
  • Forced expectations. Because you or management would like something to happen, you can make the pilot work — with resources you can’t sustain when the test is over. The opposite is true as well: If you don’t want something to work, you can make it fail. Try to remain objective throughout the test.
  • Short-changing the process. When you’re certain you have enough information, proceed. But don’t jump at the first favorable response.
  • Poor data. Garbage in, garbage out applies to data gathered through benchmarking and pilot testing. Poorly designed surveys and data collection methods can send you in exactly the wrong direction.

Whether you adore or abhor a proposed new project, avoid manipulating the process to get the answer you want. You may score points in the short term, but bad, forced decisions hurt the organization and, ultimately, your career.

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