Technology Change: Ready, Fire, Aim or Ready, Aim, Fire?

By Emerson Consultant, Brian D’Angelo

Business woman with fake gun

We love our new tech toys, don’t we? They bring us hope and happiness because each new piece of tech means that our lives and businesses are getting better and better…easier and easier.

The Cloud, cybersecurity, the entire Internet of THINGS…the potential is enough to make anybody and any company giddy.

But the problem doesn’t lie in the potential, it lies in the execution.

There are dozens of studies showing that many technology projects fail. And Forbes recently wrote that 54 percent of IT project failures can be attributed to poor management, while only 3 percent are due to technological problems. We at Emerson tend to agree. This fits what we hear when our clients talk about their tech implementations: they often fail to prepare the business for the change, sometimes because they rush implementation to achieve the promises of the technology. It’s what I like to call “The Ready, Fire, Aim Syndrome.”

The Syndrome Is Real

For example, leaders might get excited to launch Tech A because they want to get more products to market faster, with a deeper connection to the consumer. Or they launch Tech B because the entire Creative Department will be 17.08% more productive during their shortened work weeks. Faster is better right? Faster implementation, more benefit.

But without a well-defined strategy, they doom their project to a number of expensive problems that affect the company’s bottom line. And that’s not all – company morale after even one failed initiative can be devastating, impacting both project engagement and employee productivity. Leadership often launches, then surveys the damage, then works hard to walk the change back or solve the problems the launch created. Ready, Fire, Aim.

The solution is fundamental change management. In other words: Ready, Aim, Fire.

Ready

Start by understanding the business outcome you want. Often, companies implement technology without confirming that it will actually solve their problem…or that they have a problem to solve in the first place. Once you are sure the chosen technology will improve your business, study the impacts: who it will affect, how the change will impact those groups, and how it will affect the company as a whole.

Decide who will spearhead and sponsor the process and then get all your organization’s leaders rallying around one message to deliver to the organization and external stakeholders. Choose someone to build a robust communication plan that delivers custom communications to the different stakeholders in the change. Pick a team to build and deploy communications, training and conversion performance support, and ongoing support.

Having these people and plans in place sets you on the right path to maximum benefits and minimum loss of time, money and morale.

Aim

    Now, implement your change management strategy, including the following:
  • Get leaders aligned to help message the change.
  • Engage early adopters to promote the change.
  • Orchestrate stakeholders’ experiences with the new technology and focus their attention on the behaviors you want.
  • Educate and train employees on exactly which behaviors to stop, start, and continue.
  • Get IT and training teams ready to support performers.

As you execute these plans, you will build organizational momentum for the change.

Fire

If you have done all of the above, you are ready to launch. But don’t take your eye off the goal. Ongoing communication is support is critical to support users and stakeholders and make sure you’re getting the business performance and benefits you want.

Having a plan to avoid the Ready, Fire, Aim syndrome doesn’t mean you’ll avoid all the pitfalls of new tech launches. It means you’ll have a much better chance of success. And you’ll be ready to manage and recover from pitfalls quickly and nimbly, saving the company downtime and lost revenue.

Chances are, you won’t be in the unfortunate majority: tech projects that fail. Your change management will pay off in a win for your organization.

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