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top of the flops: why technology change goes wrong

By 14th May 2019 No Comments

We grew up listening to the radio on a Sunday evening to find out who was number one in the charts, but then that excitement faded out as music streaming faded in. Take Top of the Pops, whose home was on terrestrial TV. It then had to fight off the young gun that was MTV and aired via satellite. And, the streaming sensation Spotify has become the 21st century game changer. Technology keeps changing our music world just the way it keeps changing our working world.

But, however our music is aired to us – via radio, TV or internet – one thing never changes and that’s our care for what’s top of the pops and top of the flops! And, it’s no different with technology change in the workplace. We all want it to ‘pop’ and be a success, but technology change does go wrong and here’s the top ten reasons why…

No. 1 The leader of the pack…abdicated

Change won’t be a success if there’s no leader of the pack. You need an executive sponsor at the top to lead the change, but most importantly, that leader needs to commit to be the headline act for the whole gig. Putting their name to the programme but abdicating responsibility to someone else just doesn’t work. They must stay visible and not just talk the talk but also walk the walk.

No. 2 Video killed the radio star

…or rather the radio star killed video. Meaning, the line managers are the radio stars who their team look up to and seek permission from to change the way they work. So, even if ‘video’ was the new generation of technology, no one would use it if their line manager didn’t. To keep video alive, radio stars need to become video stars. In short, make sure your line managers adopt the new way, so the change doesn’t flop.

No. 3 Can’t you hear me, SOS? You seem so far away, though you are standing near…

Hello HR, L&D, IT and the executives! If these audiences don’t huddle, hear what each other has to say, collaborate and agree to knit a cohesive change management plan together, they’ll be putting out SOS calls when they hit choppy waters, then crashing waves. To prevent technology change from going wrong, these functions need to think of themselves as the production team and back stage crew, who work together to make the show a success.

No. 4 You can go your own way…

…said project management to change management. This is an epic fail. There’s only one way to make change a success and that’s when project management + change management = 1 not 2! Conflict tends to happen because the project management team focuses on project cost, timing and quality and the change management team on people. But if people aren’t using the system, cost, timing, and quality becomes irrelevant as the investment has gone to waste.  Be one team and head the same way!

No. 5 Head full of doubt, a road full of promises

This is when the new technology has the promise, but the transformation team has doubts as to whether the organisation is ready, doesn’t address these doubts and moves ahead anyway. To prevent technology change going wrong, this is the point where The Inform Team puts its hand up. Not being ready can cause a car crash. If in doubt, take a Prosci Change Management assessment – it will help you to see the red flags and work out how to solve them.

No. 6 The sound of silence: People talking without speaking

Everybody on the programme is talking about the change, so they assume everyone knows about it. But, look beyond the programme team – there is no speaking about it, just the sound of silence. Technology change fails when there’s no water-tight, matrix-style communication plan, or story-telling, that gets rolled out to the end users in a timely way, so they know what’s happening, why it’s happening and when. Keep the end users involved by speaking to them on a regular basis.

No. 7 ‘We are the champions’…

…never happened. Critical to the success of a change programme is a champions’ network. So, not having one ups your chances of your change being a flop! You need ambassadors from cross segments of your organisation to support your cause and help employees adapt to the change. Also, champions are great for cascading messages and sending them viral.

No. 8 ‘We don’t need no education’ ruled the charts…

…when it shouldn’t have done. This happens when a transformation team underestimates the learning curve and upheaval for its colleagues that the change will bring. People need to be educated about why the change is happening and be equipped with the knowledge and skills to use the technology competently. It’s also important to provide a blend of learning, so people can learn in a way that suits them. Read our tips on how to help employees learn.

No. 9 I knew you were trouble…

…but no change resistance plan was put in place. It’s human nature to resist change as we’re creatures of habit, who like routine, structure and get used to a way of doing things. So, when you shake our tree, it’s no wonder we get a little bit grumpy! But, organisations fail to recognise this. A technology change will be a damp squib if you don’t acknowledge that resistance is healthy, address what’s driving the resistance and put a plan in place to resolve it.

No. 10 There weren’t any heroes, not even for a day…

To embed a new way of working and make the message stick, you need to prove it is a success. That’s why you need heroes to tell the story of how the new technology has changed the way they have worked – for the better. Plus, where possible, you need to map these successes to organisational KPIs, so people can see that using the new technology will help the business attain its goals. Without showcasing the heroes, a change programme has less chance of sustaining what it set out to do.

If you want to avoid your technology change being top of the flops get in touch with us. We can help it go to the top of the hit parade!

(Finally, thank you to David Bowie, Taylor Swift, Pink Floyd, Queen, Simon & Garfunkel, Avett Brothers, Fleetwood Mac, Abba, The Buggles and The Shangri-Las for your inspirational lyrics!).