This blog is based on our webinar: The importance of business change when deploying technology from July 2021. Watch the recording or sign up to our other webinars for insight and inspiration on our webinars page.
Understand your people. Give them time. Then motivate them to succeed.
Understanding business change means understanding people. People have been evolving to use tools for 6.5 million years. From the earliest hominids learning to use spears to catch food, to organisations evolving to use digital technologies – as a species we have a huge capacity for change and self-advancement. So why is it so many organisational change programmes and technology deployments fall flat? Not achieving the desired goals or expected return on investment (ROI)?
Without proper planning, especially in how your people are going to adapt to and adopt the technology, you create a serious risk to the project failing to deliver on some of the promised benefits. Whether you’re a commercial operation or a public or third sector organisation, the challenge of delivering value as well as creating a supportive culture that gets the best out of its people is the same.
Embrace the new – your technology deployment will thank you
We’re all familiar with the expression all the gear, no idea. And if we translate that to the workplace, to truly achieve the headline ROI that new technologies tout, we’re aiming for expert use across the board. But simply introducing new technologies and training people doesn’t achieve that expert use. They have all the gear, but without an investment in time – time to understand, time to practise, time to evolve – they won’t develop the neural pathways needed to move that new technology, new process, or new skill into the unconscious.
Make new habits stick
The last 6.5 million years of human evolution has seen us learn new skills, practise them, and turn them into habits. And it’s this shift from the conscious to the habitual that’s all-important. But it’s expensive. We need the right diet and proteins to promote neural growth, which millions of years ago were scarce and required lots of expenditure to achieve. So if new unconscious behaviours, aka habits, require us to lay down new neural pathways to move what we’ve learnt from the conscious to the realms of automatic process, but we don’t give enough time – either by design or requirement – we’re likely to forget our newly acquired skills. We’ll have the tools, we’ll have the knowledge, but we won’t have the practice to attain expert results.
Unlike in human evolutionary history, today’s expense tends to be time. And we all know that time is money, right? But we can look once more to evolution to help us understand that due to the huge energy expenditure, our brains have evolved to positively stop us from laying down new neural pathways and learning new skills. Unless we dedicate the time. And unless we dedicate the time to making new neural pathways and turning our new skills into habits, we forget. And if we forget, our digital transformations and business change programmes are doomed to fail.
So how much time is needed to make unconscious skills and achieve expert use levels?
How much time does business change take?
This is the big money question. How long will it take for people to truly change their behaviours and develop these expert-level habits, so ROI is realised? First, we must have a solid idea of what skill we’d like people to achieve. We must also understand how often your people will use that skill and finally, what’s their level of ability now versus where you’d like them be.
The difficulty of a task or process means it takes a greater level of brainpower to complete. What this also means, is it can longer to translate into a new process as the old behaviours essentially have to be unlearnt.
The more someone performs a task or follows a process, the more ingrained into their unconscious it is. Again, it’s harder to unlearn something you automatically do all the time. In this scenario, it can also be harder to encourage someone to set aside getting their work done to spend the time to follow the new process – even if the latter means improved efficiencies!
Understanding the skills margin is vital to planning your training, communications, and motivations for the technology deployment to succeed. Simply put, you need to know the distance on an individual and organisational level between the existing skill level and the new skill level. Knowing how far your people need to go implant those new neurons will help you plan.
On the face of it, it’s not a complicated formula to follow. However, it’s key to remember that a lot of our current IT usage is already unconscious, so your business change programme is seeking to undo old behaviours, at the same time as creating new.
Once you understand this, you can work out how long you need to motivate your people to wire down those new neural pathways for them to change their behaviours and truly adopt new ways of working.
Technology deployment needs motivation
Motivating people to embrace and use new technology, skills, and processes is where your change programme success and ROI will either win or lose. Simply saying that the change to your working ways will benefit the business just won’t cut it. To succeed, you need to motivate people in three very specific ways.
Your people are individuals with different needs, goals, and ways of doing things. It’s vital to recognise this and to ensure your change programme draws on and leverages the personal. A fundamental feature of our maturity model draws this personal aspect out of your individuals and presents the qualitative data back to you.
Your people’s neural capacity doesn’t exist in the business. And while logically they’ll understand the importance of change, unless you engage them in an emotional way, they simply won’t take the time to develop the new skills needed. Creative engagement that generates an authentic emotional response is something our creative agency specialises in.
As we know, evolution has hardwired our ability to change and adapt into our cognitive function. But how do we trigger this innate capacity for change and how do we trigger it in a group setting? While it’s possible to motivate your people through just personal and emotional means, unless you seek to capitalise on your organisational culture, you won’t get your desired ROI. Inform’s proprietary maturity assessment and model gives you real data and insight into your organisational culture, helping you motivate your people as a group.
So, business change is easy right?
Well, yes. If you follow a people-first approach and really take the time to understand that your people are creatures of habit with a huge capacity for change and have been for 6.5 million years. You should also have a clear idea of what you need your people to do, as well as understanding your organisational culture, and how to effectively motivate change.
Following our essential digital maturity model means that you could unlock significant ROI in a little less than 6.5 million years!
Our people-focused approach to new ways of working and technology training means your people will know what to use and when. And once your people are confident and competent in the new technology, you’ll find teams across the business start taking up new tools and using them effectively. This gives you a strong foundation to build on.
When you optimise new technology, your people can collaborate effectively. True collaboration means working together openly and with a shared approach – and this needs understanding of your work culture. Our technical expertise and experience in behaviour change will help you get more from the Microsoft suite and reinforce new ways of working.
Jump start your organisation to achieve significant efficiencies. We can help you automate data and processes – saving you time for analysis and action instead of input and management. Add in improved processes, such as onboarding, and you’ll power up your people for more interesting and valuable work.
Business change can help your organisation take off when you’ve perfectly aligned your business and technology strategy. We’ll give you the tools to reinforce expert use of your technology across all business units to explore and take on new features as they come live. You’ll unlock essential and continual improvement for true digital transformation.
Get in touch to find out about our people-focussed approach to business change and how it can help you achieve your desired ROI.
Listen to the business change webinar podcast