Implementing MVT

Tomorrow Is Promised to No One

By Nancy Bartels

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Lincoln Paper and Tissue had a workforce highly motivated to implement multivariable testing (MVT). Workers and management alike realized that, in CEO Keith Van Scotter's words, "Tomorrow is promised to no one." They knew better than most that neither success—nor their jobs—were guaranteed.

But regardless of a company's situation, MVT can be implemented successfully. The first thing Van Scotter's team did was begin work on the things that were most important to people. "Our goal was to say, 'These are the top three issues we're facing from a business perspective.'" That ensures that people are devoting time to things that are truly important to the company and to their jobs. Nothing will stifle acceptance more than having people waste time on a project nobody really cares about. Van Scotter also did not allow "trial runs." Every MVT had a clear business goal.

The next step is to engage as many people in the organization as possible, including the top executives. "I want the chairman and the COO in there with the hourly guys calculating the results," says Van Scotter. Over time, Lincoln Paper has trained 120 of its employees in MVT. This makes certain that MVT is part of the culture and "just the way things are done" at the company.

"One of the first things we now do when confronted with a problem," says Van Scotter, "is to run an MVT to see what's going on. It's using MVT for fire fighting. This alone has been worth the price of admission."

Follow-up is also essential. "You have to make sure the changes take place," says Van Scotter. "You have to make sure everything is documented. There are not a lot of new problems. Our goal is to solve the problem for the last time. It's a competitive advantage if we can solve the problem quicker."

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