Does your upcoming technology adoption have a five star rating?

February 21, 2019

When’s the last time you downloaded an app that had less than a four star rating? Those stars speak directly to the security filters in our brains. The pace and nature of our world demands threat detection when taking risks. We look for messages of safety before we take on the unknown – even if the opportunity sounds promising. Even if it’s just an app. 

If an app demands threat detection, what about an enterprise-level change at work? Or when KPIs, compensation, status or job security is on the line? What will move people from skeptical  to trusting?

These concepts can tip the scales:  Social Proof, and Authority Reinforcement.

Social proof and authority can calm our nerves and support risk-taking. This is why lasting transformational change must have active leader engagement. Leaders often delegate things they don't want or can’t pay attention to. An enterprise level technology change cannot be one of those things.

“I’m the boss; they’ll do what I say,” only works to a certain point. Credible sources, relevance and reinforcement are essential to long-lasting change. If leaders are hands-off, the change has little chance of succeeding as leaders hope. 

Authors like Guy Kawasaki, Dan and Chip Heath,  Robert Cialdini, Paul Gibbons, Eric Knowles and Jay Linn all note the importance of social proof and authority as two of the most essential influencers of change. (See what I did there? Social proof and authority.)

Credible sources coming from positions of authority are more difficult to refute. Staff pay more attention to the CEO than the IT team. That said, the stamp of authority lasts only so long. It needs to be reinforced. Social proof only works when an increasing number of people continue to buy in to a project.

As new technology is introduced, several things can happen:

  • Subject-matter experts feel threatened as their subject-matter expertise becomes irrelevant.
  • Ambiguity about misaligned KPIs turns into a threat.
  • Overlooked requirements cause mistrust or panic.
  • The change process overwhelms different departments.
  • Issues with the process or the product become magnified.
  • Other priorities compete with the technology adoption.

Without a plan to address issues, teams can jump ship as quickly as they bought in to the change. That plan needs the executive leadership to clarify priorities, empower entities, reinforce the big picture and authorize accountability measures.

What happens If the whole responsibility is placed on the IT department’s plate? Or a temporary change manager? They can’t control KPI misalignment, the deliverables of other departments, or a department manager who doesn’t like the time-frame, the color, “look and feel” of the new system. 

An enterprise-wide technology requires efforts from the whole enterprise. The only way to get the whole enterprise to pay attention is for the boss to give it a 5-star rating by actively and visibly stepping in as needed.

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