How a Small Test of Change Can Prevent Bigger Mistakes – A Webinar Platform Decision


In the history of our KaiNexus continuous improvement webinar series, we've used a few platforms over time. We used WebEx for many years, but that technology wasn't holding up well to the demands of early Covid days, and one webinar really crashed and burned because nobody could get logged in.

We did a test with Zoom Webinars, and that went well, so we switched over for future webinars. That system scaled better under high usage, and we've been happy with Zoom.

A Possibility to Use a Different Platform

That said, one of our KaiNexus leaders recently got exposed to a different web-based webinar platform that we could potentially use.

We didn't have a compelling reason to run from Zoom.

If somebody asked, “What problem are we trying to solve?” the answer might have been, “It's not a problem, it's an opportunity.” Maybe.

Thankfully, we didn't have a top-down mandate of “you MUST use this new platform” (which will remain unnamed). It was suggested that we try this new platform for the following potential benefits:

  • It's all web-based, so there is no software to install
  • The webinar would be embedded in a page on the KaiNexus website

It seems almost everybody has Zoom nowadays, but there could be a company that doesn't allow employees to download it. A company might mandate that everybody uses Microsoft Teams, for example. So maybe web-based is better? It was worth pursuing (although I don't remember any complaints from people who are unable to access Zoom webinars).

Having the webinar embedded in our website was appealing to the marketing team, because people might then be curious or tempted to explore our website to learn more about our company and our software. This might solve a problem that marketing might frame as “Webinar attendees don't spend enough time on our website” — or it's an opportunity for them to spend more time there, which might result in more leads and more customers. That would be the hypothesis, anyway.

Risks Involved in the Possible Change – And Small Tests of Change

Different isn't always better.

There is a risk that a web-based system could still be blocked by some company's firewall… which is just one of the reasons why we intentionally did a small test of change. A number of small tests, actually.

There are other risks.

Switching to a new webinar platform could be a mistake.

How do we mitigate a possible mistake? A small test of change can prevent larger mistakes.

We started with an internal test with just some KaiNexus team members playing the role of host, presenter, and audience. That worked pretty well. Or at least there were no issues that made us say, “No, stop the testing.” We still had a hypothesis that the new system could work and that it was worth trying.

We then asked our next webinar presenters (from UMass Memorial Health) if they'd be willing to try a different system. They said yes. So, we did a private test session with them.

We had assumptions that we needed to test:

  • Would their network allow them to join?
  • Would their browser / computer settings allow them to share their microphone and camera?
  • Would they be able to join and get up and running without too much confusion or stress?

I mean, at this point, most everybody knows how to join a Zoom Meeting. If somebody hasn't joined a Zoom Webinar, they can be guided how to do so with very minimal instruction.

How Did the Test Play Out?

Both presenters were confused about how to get into the practice session webinar, which I decided was not their fault. There appeared to be some software glitches that made this confusing — and it wasn't working for them as it did for me. I don't think it was user error on their part.

They weren't able to get in with their UMass email addresses, as I had configured, so they found a workaround of joining with a personal email address – and I was then able to promote them to be a presenter. That wouldn't have worked well if this was a real webinar with a long list of real attendees. So that was concerning.

During our test, the system had a glitch that kicked me out of the session as host. When I re-loaded the browser tab, it threw me back into the test webinar, but as an attendee. Weird. It required a few clicks, but I was able to get back in as “host” — but that was also concerning.

We debated the pros and cons and the risks. We didn't have a need to switch from Zoom. The reasons to try this new system weren't incredibly compelling, we decided. After all, the post-webinar survey function in Zoom brings the attendee to… the KaiNexus website for the feedback form. So that goal of having the attendee see our website is accomplished anyway.

We decided to stick with Zoom, for now.

Was It a Mistake?

Was it a mistake to try that new system? I'd say no.

But we're not really going to call it a mistake.

Nobody involved is upset about any time “wasted” on this small experiment. The rep for the other software platform might be disappointed that we're not using their system for this webinar. We might try again later.

Nobody is being blamed for trying something new. Nobody is being blamed for suggesting that we try something new.

That said, this small “mistake” helped us prevent what could have been a BIG mistake — if we had tried this software for the first time in a real live webinar without proper testing.

We were really just following the cycle of Plan Do Study Adjust… again, small tests of change help prevent big mistakes. It's always helpful to have that lesson get reinforced. I hope it helps you.

I also think it helps, when testing an idea or a hypothesis, to say:

“I could be wrong”

instead of

“I must be proven right.”

To me, that's how scientific improvement works.

That Next Webinar – Join Us (on Zoom!)

Please join us:

Managing Transformation Projects, Improvements, and Learning in a Virtual Environment

December 13 from 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm ET

Presented by Cliona Archambeault and Penny Iannelli of UMass Memorial Health

Registration is free. And I think there will be a lot to learn, even if you don't work in healthcare (Penny and Cliona both used to work at Intel).

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Check out my latest book, The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation:

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


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