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To Stay Relevant, Overcome Resistance to Change

An inability to adapt is not an option.

We hear about pain points within our world of work daily, it’s part of our capability and our strength as a team: prioritising pain points…and then solving for them.

Often, the solution isn’t technology but in the team's work methods, workflow, organisation, and occasionally the business structure. Resistance to change is often a real hurdle, because it’s a natural human response.

When technology is the answer, we research, design, co-create, and build solutions to address these challenges.

Many of us are talking about change management, adoption strategies and general success when it comes to technology solutions. Luckily, many successful businesses have effectively dealt with resistance to change (we’re big fans of Slack, Atlassian, Salesforce, and Adobe and we benchmark their best practices often). Through our own experience, and keeping a close eye on the big guys, we know several strategies and approaches need to be deployed to create a culture of change and make sure that new shiny things that work, are used when we approach a project that includes technology (either deploying it or co-building it for deployment).

Here's a high-level ticklist we consider and shop from when creating the necessary strategy:

  1. Effective Communication Our wish is that it is graspable, transparent and purpose-driven in its approach. Simply put: talk about the ‘why’ regularly and enforce feedback loops (and retrospectives).

  2. Leadership Buy-In Another obvious one but without it you’re dead in the water - the phrase ‘visibly champion the change’ seems to encompass the need here.

  3. Co-create with your team and/or your stakeholders Be this in the research, the design, the build, the test, and the change phase…make the team involvement count (and chat with the guys who are closest to the customer).

  4. Training and Development: Traditionally, such a boring part of any process but with some refreshing ideas and tools out there, this can be a world of innovation waiting to be exposed.

  5. Piloting/Testing: Start small then go big. Be it a Minimum Viable Product angle, a Pilot per functional areas, or testing it with a real customer representation before deploying…build in time for fine-tuning based on real-world feedback and confidence building in the solution (and the team that needs to deploy it).

  6. Change Agents or Champions Usually, a necessity unless it is a very small team where you have 100% buy-in and time allocation to the new technology solution. Gives these individuals some hardcore authority and a voice, this isn’t only a cheerleader (even though the cheerleader role cannot be underestimated either).

  7. Track, Celebrate, and Rewarding Progress: This can be a tricky one, financial reward for adoption is usually not the answer…but finding ways to track increased customer satisfaction through the changes is really where the magic lives.

  8. Feedback Mechanisms If you’re looping, you’re learning!

  9. Clear Roadmaps Providing a clear roadmap or timeline for the change helps us all!

  10. Measuring the right data and Communicating Progress Pick the top three metrics that matter and keep them top of mind….for a long time (then build those metrics into long-term business goals).

  11. Flexibility and Adaptability An agile approach is going to be the suggested method here.

  12. Patience and Empathy Acknowledging that change can be challenging and that individuals may have different timelines for acceptance. Shew, this one can be tough.

What follows are two areas we’d like to elaborate on from the above list (sharing from experience).

Clear Roadmaps The one we’ve leaned on recently. Adoption is multifaceted and often we plan for the guys who need to start using the new technology but we forget about the whole ecosystem and what phase each part of that ecosystem is in. The ecosystem can be a whole ocean, including everyone from the guys with the idea; the idea that has been living for years before this execution (their baby) that is technically now their toddler in their minds….but still a brand new baby to the market…their passion; burn out, fatigue and urgency so different to the rest of us.

Next in the sea, the tech teams who’ve spent nights building on the dream of the solution, get asked ‘Why is this not working?’ when all that was required was the laptop just needing to be reset (a daily query)…..their love for the customer gets tested and energy drinks only go so far.

Further along in the sea, we see the executives who are paying for this…who likely don’t need to use this solution but want to see the ROI and want to see the baby and not the labour pains….rightfully so but living very far from understanding the empathy required to pull a technology solve into play.

Next in, the deployment team who are armed and ready to take shots and defend this solution to the deepest waters, keep positive and keep believing that the human race is capable of change…. then there are the actual ‘users’ who asked for this solve (but not in this particular way) and start back-peddling with murmurs of "guys don't worry I am going back to my old ways instead, it’s easier than learning this new thing, even though I know it will save me big time in three months". This would be a small ecosystem.

The Role of the Roadmap

What we have found is that the roadmap needs to cater for all of these stakeholders, the resistance, emotional ups and downs, the glitches, the euphoria and eventually guide us to success.

This roadmap leverages all things New Ways of Work (naturally that is our solution to most things; ‘it should build it out’ engage the different stakeholders and make sure those milestones are clear for the different wins that are needed to make sure your technology solves (and lives).

The second moment of sharing: rethink training. Make it great, aspirational, make it meaningful yes. But also: Integrate technology adoption and connect it with your training budgets, up skilling metrics, and the future success of your team and leaders….again build it through from start to finish into the DNA of your business strategy.

All Aboard the Change Train

Our last insight, and we think it should be added to every adoption strategy, is harnessing the power of onboarding: anyone new joining your team/business need to be an ambassador of the new technology: no change management is needed here! And the onus needs to be transferred. For example, you’re new, this tech is new, our why is clear, let’s make it part of your OKR/KPI/Goals to drive this to success with us….fresh legs, fresh tech, fresh future.

We’ve used this formula a few times and it’s helped tremendously (please note I didn’t say it has made it easy) I hope it helps (otherwise, chat with us and we can work with you to get it done).

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