9 steps to technology that people want to use
So, you've chosen some great technology, you've written the business case and determined the potential return on investment and it's all been approved. But the technology is a small element of the equation. How do you get people to want to use it?
If people accept new technology on a level where they connect positively both intellectually and psychologically then they’ll use it to its maximum effect and you'll achieve a bigger return on investment. In fact, according to Prosci, projects are six times more likely to succeed when the people side of change is managed well.
But, according to Gallup, 75 per cent of change projects fail, including those relating to new technology. So, what happens? Where is the disconnect?
Here are some steps you can take to ensure you succeed.
Step 1: Don’t leave adoption to chance
Appoint someone who is responsible for the people side of the change (or often this is referred to as adoption). They should develop a simple and clear plan, outlining your approach to ensure people know and believe in the change, including communication, training and other activities. But this plan cannot be created in a vacuum. It needs to be a co-created through listening (see step 8) to those people in the organisation who understand the climate for change (see step 5) and through learning from the past (step 6). It should define what resources and investment will be required and have the full buy-in of the project team and your organisation’s leaders.
Step 2: Lead confidently
A leader's behaviour can make or break change. Ensure all leaders are bought into the new technology and change. Develop a stakeholder plan that provides a supportive approach for leaders so they can promote the change with integrity and belief. This is a critical area to invest time early on so the new technology succeeds. And when the new system is launched, make sure people know the leaders are using it too.
Step 3: Keep it simple
Whatever the change, you need a simple story that explains why this needs to happen, the benefits and why the status quo isn’t an option. You need to create the desire to change at personal and organisational levels.
Develop a simple elevator pitch (in a low-rise building) that’ll resonate with anyone in your organisation. Work with leaders and communication experts to articulate your story and then test it with others who have different roles and perspectives. Group these different people into ‘personas’ or people with common interests, motivations and concerns. Listen to what they understand from the story, their concerns and what appeals to them. Then adjust the story accordingly.
Step 4: Remember we're human beings!
Human beings don’t like change. Our brains expect certain things to stay the same. Change requires us to ‘rewire’, which takes time and effort. Understand human behaviour during periods of change and what people need at different stages to create a sense of safety (think Maslow’s hierarchy of needs). As soon as a change is deemed threatening, a whole chain of events kicks off that results in poor decision making and lower productivity.
Don’t underestimate the negative impact of prolonged stress on people due to change being managed badly. Support people’s wellbeing and resiliency in genuine and creative ways, so they know you care.
Step 5: Understand your climate for the change
If you introduce new technology into an environment where previous change has been badly managed and people are experiencing high levels of change, clearly you will be less successful. The ideal is, obviously, where change has been introduced well and there is trust in leadership.
Look at the following factors when thinking about your change climate:
How much change has been experienced recently? Was it received positively or negatively?
How does this change align with your vision, culture and values?
What will concern and motivate people about the change? How will this be different for different groups of people?
Where are the natural social networks in your organisation (they won’t be hierarchical) that you can make use of?
Are your leaders and managers equipped to support this change?
What are the communication preferences of those who will experience the change?
Is anything in place to support their wellbeing and resiliency?
It's also good to understand the communication preferences and behaviourial styles of your project team through tools such as Clarity4d.
Step 6: Learn from the past
Carry out learning sessions at key points in your technology change project. If you leave it until the end then people forget the pain and the pleasure! Appoint someone to ensure this happens and agree, organisationally, how you’ll ensure these learnings are passed onto future project teams.
Also, consider what you can reuse from past projects that worked well, to save yourself time and effort.
Step 7: You can’t have fast, cheap and good
If you don’t invest in adoption or try to make change happen too fast then the outcome won’t be good. Good change takes investment and resource. Bad change will cost money later down the line! Have a budget for change that recognises the size of the task - it's often underestimated.
Step 8: Listen to, involve and understand your people
Referring back to how we react to change, we don’t like change being done to us and feeling out of control or undervalued in the process. There is a real opportunity to learn from those people who understand your organisation. And while you are listening to and involving them, you’ll learn invaluable information to create an adoption approach that will ensure you're successful. You can formalise this by appointing champions who represent different ‘personas’ as mentioned above.
Step 9: Celebrate and keep the momentum going
Any change, and particularly technology related projects, can be tough. It’s important to celebrate the little milestones (and how far you’ve come – not just how far you have to go) and recognise the work of those who contribute. It will keep people motivated and will result in greater productivity and focus. It will also build trust as people will know you value them.
Contact Karen at email@example.com