Archive for April, 2010

Technology Adoption Recommendations

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

FOSTERING A SMOOTH TRANSITION

We all know that change is hard. Sometimes people make it harder by resisting change rather than embracing it…even if the change is to their benefit! Try some of these tips for maximizing adoption and minimizing resistance when you roll out change in your organization:

  • Demonstrate the benefits of the new tool to all affected & back it up with explanation of benefits to other staff for groups like IT that may not see direct benefit. The benefit to the company may sway some staff, but many will need to see benefit for themselves or their coworkers to buy-in.  Staff may benefit from the adoption of the new tool, for example, by becoming more valuable to the company—higher productivity, increased deliverables, and fewer errors all tie directly to higher revenue per employee & better customer satisfaction.  Staff that become experts  in the use of the new tool will drastically outperform those who are not—increasing the expert’s relative value within the company and thus their job security. By freeing staff from repetitive, low knowledge required tasks, staff will be able to increase their knowledge and skills in electrical design’s finer and more complex areas of knowledge.
  • An internal ‘evangelist’ for the new tool, i.e. a positive and knowledgeable person, will go far in preventing other staff from becoming frustrated with new tools and giving up or turning negative. Some refer to such a person as a ‘change artist’. We recommend that your most positive minded, change embracing, and experienced designer be trained first in the use of the new tool.  If the person has the traits mentioned, they will highly likely naturally slip into the role of internal evangelist. If reasonably feasible, reward this person for being first, being positive, and for making the adoption of the new tool a success—the rewards need not be monetary.
  • If involved from the very beginning in purchase and implementation planning, staff will be more amenable to the necessary process and standards changes that will affect how they work. Let staff know of the new tools on a timely basis, i.e. prepare them well in advance of the changeover so they don’t feel surprised or that their opinion on the changeover process was ignored. To increase buy-in, involve staff in planning the adoption process and in identifying what processes and standards will need to change.
  • There will be staff that resist the adoption of the new tools, you likely have run into their resistance on any types of changes initiated over their time with the company. Have patience and help resistant staff see the value of the new tools to them personally. Their conversion will not happen quickly but over time they will accept the change and may even become some of the strongest proponents of the new tools.
  • People learn best in different ways. Some learn best in a classroom situation, some learn best given time to experiment and dig around on their own. Budget time for staff to both take the training course and to have extra time on their first projects to allow for experiential learning, that way both types of learners will be accommodated. Ensure that all staff have unfettered access to either or both of expert internal assistance (from the evangelist mentioned above) and external assistance (from the tool supplier).
  • Any change requires continuous reinforcement to keep the change process moving forward. Once you have told staff of why the change needs to be made and how it will benefit them and the company, tell them again…and again…and again…until adoption is complete, which will take months.

Change is never easy, but if you do everything you can to involve your people early and often, you will have an easier time rolling out the change.

ENSURING ADOPTION

Management makes a decision to use new tools either because external forces have forced the change on them or because the tool will benefit the company. People in general are resistant to change of any type, beneficial or not, so there is always convincing involved, sometimes coddling, and sometimes forcing!

The organizations that are able to most quickly adopt new tools and benefit from them are those that are able to create and maintain an environment that fosters quick and resistance free adoption. To do this, they will make it clear that staff success in the organization depends on their ability to adopt new tools as required. Organizations can also accelerate tool changeover by removing the old tools or only accepting delivery of product created with the new tools.

The executive(s) that make the purchase decision are the ‘sponsoring executives’. It is imperative that these executives stay attuned to the situation through the purchase phase, training phase, and adoption phase in order to lend support or gentle pressure as needed to keep the process of adoption flowing.

CONCLUSION

Failed adoptions of new tools typically happen because the executives that initiated or sponsored the purchase of the new tool think their job is done once the purchase is made. Natural resistance to change in the organization thus ‘kills’ the new tool in a slow and quite manner.

The reality of the situation is that the sponsoring executive needs to remain involved from the purchase decision all the way through to the completion of adoption by all affected staff. The time required of the sponsoring executive is not much, merely ongoing attention and encouragement toward the adoption of the new tools. In our experience, this particular requirement for facilitating adoption is the single most important task that needs to be done.

We hope that the information herein will help you and your organization in adopting beneficial new tools.   A successful adoption will pay off many times over in ongoing: productivity gains, accuracy gains, and increased employee satisfaction due to reduced repetitive work.

Regards,

Dean Whitford

Chief Operating Officer

DraftLogic

Sunk Cost–Nothing to do With Ships

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

So don’t fall off your chair or otherwise hurt yourself in shock about what I am about to say…but the accountants have it right about something! What? After Enron and the financial crisis and countless ‘solid’ companies making it through audits and then flushing down the toilet? How could I say the accountants have anything right? Well, first of all, I am referring to accountants in general, not the auditors who have been taking a beating over the last few years.

The accounting concept I am referring to is that of ‘Sunk Cost’. This is a way of looking at an expenditure that was made in the past that I think could help with a lot of present day decisions for many companies. You see, being human we tend to cloud what should be rational decisions with human emotion. Not a bad thing when a decision needs some emotion in it to make it smart, but a very bad thing when including the effects of emotion in a decision will result in a wrong choice.

Get to the point you say? OK, here it is: a sunk cost is money spent in the past. It’s gone, over, done, finito. The only value you should be concerned about is whatever real value remains today in whatever you spent the money on in the past. In many cases, the current value will have little to do with the money that was spent. All too often, we attach extra value due to emotional attachment. That incorrect adjusted current value prevents us from making smart decisions today.

At DraftLogic, we run into the effect of emotionally upcharged value quite often. We’ll show our revolutionary new product, DraftLogic Electrical, to prospects and they are invariably quite impressed. They talk things over at the office about upgrading to our software & all the baggage comes out of the storage rooms: ‘We spent years or tens of thousands or both on developing our CAD standards’, ‘We just spent hundreds of thousands on coding productivity tools’, or ‘We have hundreds of thousands invested in a software platform that would need to be replaced’.

The question that should really be asked is ‘Will this new investment pay for itself and start benefiting us materially within an acceptable timeline?’ If the answer is ‘yes’, the purchase should be made and the old investment salvaged/used if partial need continues, sold if it has no current value for the company but retains some value for others, or abandoned if having no current value for anyone. That, however, is assuming decision makers and users can remove emotion and politics from the decision making equation…and when is the last time you saw that actually happen? Back to our accounting analogy, even auditors whom are supposed to be the arbiters of dispassionate numbers end up accommodating for human emotion and politics in their work, thus some of the company failures that took us all by surprise instead of coming with much forewarning from auditors.

So to you I wish the gift of vision unencumbered by emotional baggage or politics! The best I have been able to attain so far is twenty-four hour clarity on decisions where I have an emotional investment–today I render my emotionally muddled opinion & sometimes I have to come back tomorrow and say ‘OK, you were right, that is a better way & we should go with it’.

Kindest regards,
Dean Whitford, COO
DraftLogic
www.draftlogic.com