Tech trap #3: There is no need for change
BY MIKE ODE
There are plenty of reasons people avoid change. They fall into routines and get comfortable. They realize that change requires focus, effort, and energy that they just don’t have. Sometimes, they just don’t realize that there are better options, and many just don’t see a reason to change. But change can be good, and lack of change can be detrimental.
In the book Younger Next Year, authors Chris Crowley and Henry Lodge, MD, discuss the idea that, by the time you reach 50, you have two choices about how your body will age: through growth or decay. You can choose to lead a healthy, proactive lifestyle that promotes growth, or you can become sedentary and allow yourself to decay.
I believe that same concept applies to your business. If you are not proactively working to grow your business, then it will eventually decline. Technology is just one type of change that requires our constant attention—especially in this day and age. The organization that is unable or unwilling to adapt to emerging technologies is on the path to failure. From my experience, there are five top reasons why technological change
doesn’t happen within a company:
1. Status quo thinking: Managers and owners sometimes don’t see the benefit or appreciate the need to make technology changes. It’s easy to want to do what has worked in the past, but as the times change, so must processes. In order to avoid complacency and grow your company, you must constantly look for better, more efficient and more cost-effective ways of doing things. In construction, for instance, a contractor using spreadsheets for estimating, job costing, and financial reporting may be unaware that current technologies can produce these same reports in a fraction of the time.
This company is putting itself at a disadvantage
by spending more money and resources
2. Saboteur in the ranks: We all know this person—the one who is comfortable on the job, knows exactly how to use Brand X software, and sees no reason to change. Consciously or not, an employee like this can poison the company’s efforts to adapt and survive. No one ever said managing technology change (including employees’ attitudes about new technology) was easy. In order to initiate successful change, you must involve employees in the process, create a message about the positive outcomes of change, and listen to feedback. After all, no company initiative can be successful without getting everyone on board for implementation.
3. Cost or time barriers: Executives and business managers often state that they have neither the time nor the money to initiate new technology changes. These companies tend to take a pragmatic, yet shortsighted approach to change. Consider, for example, the contractor who manually estimates all excavating jobs for bidding. If he spends four or five hours preparing each site estimate, that leaves very little time to investigate “cut and fill” software technology that could significantly reduce his workload and win more jobs for the company. Often, contractors are surprised to learn that their entry-level system is actually costing more to run because of inefficient duplicate data entry tasks, payroll fees, and other associated costs. But technology is a tool for boosting productivity and profitability, and it’s often worth spending the time and money to help meet long-term company goals.
4. The fear factor: Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous quote very much applies to emerging
technology: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Fear of change can immobilize even the greatest of leaders—especially paired with the intimidation of unfamiliar technology! Conquer this fear by taking a thoughtful approach to selecting and implementing technologies that will accelerate your company’s strengths. The key is to take the first step: start reading books and articles on subjects of interest, and ask industry peers,
consultants, and association contacts for their opinions. Companies that don’t adapt to change are most likely to fail. Now that’s something to fear!
5. Success breeds failure: Successful companies usually emerge because they are in the right place at the right time and have found their niche. But there is the overriding tendency of successful companies to become complacent and comfortable. This causes them to miss common flags that suggest the need for change: customers that aren’t as happy as they once were, the lack of willingness to learn new
methods and change markets, etc.
So what’s a successful company to do? Believe it or not, the best time to pursue technology solutions is when business is good and profits are steady. Proactive decisions tend to be goal-oriented and produce better results than those made in times of crisis. Companies should view technological changes as an ongoing “philosophy.” BxM
To avoid falling into these technology traps, read Tech Traps in subsequent monthly issues of BX Magazine. Mike Ode is president of Foundation Software firstname.lastname@example.org, 800-246-0800.