Why does new technology cause so much frustration?
The answer is that technology users have a single goal when they use any technology: they want to accomplish something, and the tool cannot get in the way. Unfortunately, technologists focus too narrowly on the technology instead of the people who will use it.
In last year’s Harvey Nash KPMG survey, only 29% of respondents indicated that their organization was “very” or “extremely” effective in “implementing new technologies end-to-end, across functions and geographies.”
The result of this ineffectiveness is that 7 out of 10 companies will not receive the maximum return on their technology investments. This adds to the frustration of technology adoption.
At Encore Electric, Inc. we experienced similar frustration with an implementation of new conference room technology. We tried to solve for every user scenario and instead of testing with a pilot group of users we assumed we knew their needs. We implemented the solutions and then we dragged them through training. They probably would rate this experience as “not effective” or “slightly effective”. The result is that the many people remain frustrated when they must use conference room technology.
When it came to our next technology implementation, we sought advice from People Before Things on change management specifically for technology adoption. We read their book and engaged them for a 6-week training course. It was eye-opening.
We learned that we were not engaging our non-technical teammates to fully understand their needs and walk with them through the technology change so that they are satisfied (even happy) with the new technology.
Effective Change Management
We learned that effective change starts with a simple “why statement”. A “why statement” explains simply the reason for the change. For example, when looking at timekeeping solutions, we came up with the why statement “We waste time tracking time”.
The why statement helps focus the technology team to ensure the solution is relevant. It helps focus the recipients of the technology on the goal of the change. It helps leaders champion and rally the change. Nothing is sweeter than the sound of an executive leader using a why statement in a meeting!
We learned that people need to go through 3 mindsets to adopt a change. These are
- understanding and
People going through change need to know that it is coming. This is where we can use the why statement as the foundation of awareness. Understanding builds on awareness and cannot come unless the awareness is complete.
To build understanding the users must have time and the freedom to learn, experiment, ask questions and form a new understanding of their role using the new technology. Training in its typical format for technology will not build understanding because such training often does not provide enough time and freedom for users.
Preference is like a crown jewel
We realized that preference is a like a crown jewel – it is precious and rare. We must earn the preference of the users for the new technology through the hard work of building awareness and understanding. Taking short cuts will yield ineffective adoption. Once this pinnacle is reached by early adopters, they can become champions of the change for their colleagues.
In addition to the model from People Before Things, I recommend the “Irrational Side of Change Management” by Carolyn Dewar and Scott Keller at McKinsey. They offer four “counterintuitive” insights to help technology teams understand “how employees interpret their environment and react.”