Technological Innovations Drive Business Forward… and Complicate Things
Technology and organizational change have always gone hand in hand. Introducing new technologies to a business can have a significant impact on even the most basic business processes. Take for example the introduction of desktop word processing in the mid-1980s. At the time, most offices would have had a department secretary responsible for transforming hand-written memos and letters into typed company documents.
The introduction of “desktop software packages” including the ability to typewritten documents, design graphics, and build spreadsheets disbursed the centralized secretarial function out to the individual employees. As a result, business processes had to change, it was not just a change to who was doing the work. New guidelines had to be established for how and what content was being created at the individual level as there was no longer a gatekeeper function, like a secretary, to drive consistency, clarity, and accuracy.
Change, whether technological or otherwise, is often uncomfortable, but inevitable. What separates successful organizations from the rest of the pack is the ability to effectively manage change and the people it affects. When considering implementing a new technology that could improve a business, most decision-makers focus on the technical benefits of the innovation, and on how to implement it at an operational level. What we often forget, though, is the human side of the equation. According to Implementation Management Associates, a change initiative’s greatest risk for failure is on the human side, rather than the technical side. Introducing a technological change often requires changing behavior, which is hard to accept. If that change in behavior is not handled correctly, then the entire implementation will fall by the wayside.
75% of all organizational change projects fail. This number is staggering. Understanding the reasons why they fail is critical to developing a successful change management strategy. One of the most common causes is a lack of effective communication. In organizations that enacted change initiatives, 32% of senior managers felt they were not informed of the reasons for change. This perception of being “out of the loop” grows as you move down the ranks, as 47% of middle managers and 60% of front-line supervisors felt the same way.
New technology initiatives often require front-line workers to change their day-to-day habits. If the trend of poor communication with lower-level workers holds, then the people who feel the change most know the least about why it’s happening. This creates an environment where change cannot succeed.
Peter Senge, a Systems Scientist at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, says, “People don’t resist change. They resist being changed.” This principle is why effective communication, or a “narrative”, is necessary for a successful change initiative. If the reason for a change is not communicated throughout every level of management, and at every stage, then employees feel as if they are “being changed”. They are the objects of change. However, if employees are given leadership in the change process, understand the rationale and impact, and can provide feedback, they themselves are change agents.
Mobile Devices – A Balance Between Productivity and Safety
A perfect example of a technological innovation that has had unintended consequences is the advent of mobile devices. They are involved in every part of our lives – always on our person, and on our minds. Mobile devices are a necessity in today’s business world. They have provided unquestionable benefits in enabling people to communicate instantly from anywhere. Mobile innovation has streamlined business operations in an unprecedented way. For all their benefits, though, mobile devices have brought a ready-made distraction to the workplace.
In an April 2019 Forrester Research Report, “How to Wake Up From the Nightmare of Workplace Technology Distraction”, it was found that workers succumb to distraction every 10 minutes, and it takes as much as 23 minutes to regain their focus. In a separate study conducted by Forrester in May 2019, 65% of employees feel overwhelmed by the number of notifications they receive on their mobile devices. The problem of mobile device distraction is common knowledge, and employees are feeling the effects. The question then becomes what to do about it.
Most companies today have implemented mobile device usage policies to curb the issue of device distraction. These policies, regardless of the defined guidelines or method of enforcement, require a change in behaviors many of which have become ingrained in our everyday habits. Maybe it’s that a manager can no longer talk to an employee while they’re driving, or that co-workers shouldn’t expect an immediate response to their texts or emails. We’re all so used to having an instant connection with those in our work or personal lives, that introducing restrictions to that communication can mean a significant change to how work gets done.
Simply writing a policy does not mean that behavior will change, though. Poor communication brings about resistance to change. You know that eliminating device distraction brings myriad benefits to employees, including reducing the overwhelming and disruptive notification, increasing productivity, and ensuring safety. To actually change behavior when implementing a policy, management must reinforce these benefits to employees at every stage of implementation. Take special care to involve and inform those in a front-line role, as they are most often left out of the change process.
Effectively implementing a mobile device usage policy requires walking a fine line between appropriate management of access to apps and functions, and enforceability. It seems the more you limit mobile device use, the more you start to lose their value in the workplace. Written policies are easily worked around, cameras are only reactive, supervisors constantly checking to make sure employees aren’t using their devices inappropriately isn’t a good use of time, and simply forbidding mobile devices in the workplace eliminates all the benefits they bring.
One Technological Change to Optimize Another – TRUCE
At TRUCE, we realized that while technology was the problem, it was also the solution. We’ve developed a software solution that walks the fine line of policy implementation. Our Contextual Mobile Device Management software ensures your mobile usage policy is enforced to the letter, only in the situations that you deem necessary. Whether it’s driving a vehicle, operating heavy machinery, or simply during key business hours, TRUCE will let you tailor a mobile policy to the situations and needs of your workplace.
TRUCE allows you to customize which of an employee’s device’s functions and features are available to use in any given situation or time. It even allows the policy to change based on different employee groups or status. Whenever they leave these areas, or a certain time period ends, the device returns to its normal state. This software lets you keep all the benefits that mobile brings to the workplace, without compromising the safety of your employees.