The pace of new technology is advancing exponentially. But organizations change so slowly. This is particularly frustrating if you’re a senior executive who sees the opportunity to drive efficiencies or value and by making big changes in your organization, yet you find it’s painful and difficult to drive change and you can only make incremental progress. It’s also frustrating if you’re a service provider trying to sell a new vision to a slow-changing organization. What causes the slowdown?
People do what they are incented to do and what is in their best interest. Just because technology makes something possible doesn’t mean that people are prepared to change. And driving change is dependent on relationships with other people; highly dependent technologies also impact change. It’s not that individuals want to thwart change; it’s just that change will be thwarted because people always do what is in their best interests, as they perceive it.
Making a change in technology forces change in policies, processes and relationships; and that requires realignment. Alignment is complicated. It’s a combination of organizational incentives, personal incentives, metrics and what we measure, proximity to people, how we relate to one another and technology.
The tragic mistake that clients and providers so often make is believing that changing one aspect – the technology or perhaps a few people – will drive others to change. But it won’t. Driving change requires realigning the organization and ecosystem.
Borrowing from the old adage, human behavior is like water – it flows to the lowest point or takes the easiest path. This is a defining principle about why Apple has been so successful: it makes it easy to operate an iPhone or iPad. When we fail to make those same accommodations and think through technology change thoroughly, we can’t drive the organizational and behavioral change we’re looking for.
Change and adopting new technologies is so simple for the architects and designers. But they fail to view it from the perspective of the people who will be affected by the technology. New technology requires creating new steps or more complexity; therefore, new technology is more difficult to utilize than the old technology people are accustomed to and trained on.
Often the new visions based on a breakthrough or change in technology rarely live up to their potential because the service provider only changes the technology or provide new technology to the aspects of the service for which the provider is responsible. So the remaining organization can’t or won’t change; it’s left with the original interests and metrics, and it won’t readily change to accommodate the new structure.
Unfortunately, service providers’ salespersons attempt to beat competitors’ offers by oversimplifying the nature of the change the client will need to undergo.
To ensure client satisfaction and to ensure the technology lives up to its potential, providers selling a new vision and making promises must be far more realistic around the cost and time it takes to accomplish the change from implementing new technology.