All companies have room for improvement, and no one is perfect. However, many companies have difficulty responding to and implementing the latest trends in technology and business. They cling to old ways of doing things, and they don’t have a clear process for evaluating whether a new technology will be useful for their business.
Part of my job creating great software is figuring out inefficiencies in the way things are being done currently.
Can we save time? Can we make someone’s life easier?
Often, this means changing the way you currently do things. Sometimes the change is dramatic or involves learning a new system. In the long run, it’s more effective, but in the short run, companies and executives are afraid of changing their ways.
I’m reminded of the Henry Ford quote, “if I had asked my customers what they wanted they would have said a faster horse.” This is true for almost every company I work with. But, what’s more frustrating is them not understanding that change is sometimes for the better.
Change Aversion is Hampering Your Ability to Innovate
New technology inevitably asks us to change the way we do things. You’ll have to learn new systems, new workflows, and even new ways of talking about your work. This can seem like a major hurdle and even a cost to new technology. However, I’d argue it’s usually just an exposure of the inadequacy of the old way of doing things.
In order to get comfortable with technological change, you need to get comfortable with the idea that you might be wrong about the most efficient way to accomplish something. Certain ideas you have about the best way to do something will likely be challenged when new technology comes along. The key here is remembering that being wrong is a good thing. The change is likely for the better.
Being afraid of change actually equates to a fear of innovation. Anytime you improve something, you necessarily change it. This is especially true when we’re developing new software for a client. If you want to improve the software, some of the old processes will likely get redesigned or replaced. There are a couple ways you can embrace this change and encourage innovation at your company.
1. Automate Repetitive Tasks
The low-hanging fruit of technology change is automation. Letting a computer handle boring, repetitive tasks is a no-brainer for employee efficiency. Getting rid of the menial jobs is also great for employee happiness and team morale.
Usually, automation isn’t a difficult change to sell to your team. However, there are some cases where automation greatly changes how the work looks, feels, and functions. In those cases, some employees and even executives can be reticent to change that makes their business practices look different. This is especially true at companies where tradition is a big part of the culture. You’ll hear things like, “We’ve been doing it the old way for forty years. Why do we need a new technology to do this for us?” Those companies are usually where it’s hardest to encourage technology changes. Those are also usually the companies where they need the change the most.
2. Upgrading Your Workflows
Speaking of changing the look and feel of business practices, technology has the potential to redesign inefficient systems. Workflow optimization can amplify your employees’ productivity and effectiveness. Software can replace manual systems. Cloud-based web applications can make information more accessible. Upgrading the way you manage your information can have huge implications for your team.
These changes will often be even more visible than changes that automate. However, ultimately, they’ll make your team happier and more productive.
3. Support Employee Experimentation
One of the best ways to encourage change at your organization is to allow for employee experimentation. Encourage your employees to test new solutions to old problems. You’ll often be surprised at the efficiencies they can create with free technologies or a new approach. When employees share their best practices, your whole team benefits.
I’m not advocating that you allow employees to do every task ad hoc and abandon structure altogether. You should have standards and best practices in place for workflows. However, those best practices should be open for modification should an employee discover a new, better way to accomplish the task.
Adopting New Technologies Effectively
Most companies wait to adopt new technology until the cost of the status quo is greater than the cost of change. They wait until the last possible second before they abandon an old way of doing things. This isn’t ideal.
As a leader at your company, make an effort to recognize and research trends as they’re emerging in your industry. Find ways (and create a budget) to test those trends in a small way in your own business. You may find that some new technologies aren’t right for your company. However, you should have clear success metrics for your tests. If a new technology accomplishes your success metrics better than the existing method, consider a switch as soon as possible.
The idea here is to transform your organization’s attitude toward technology change. You want to go from adopting out of necessity to being an industry leader and early adopter. When you do, you’ll reap the benefits of new technology for your employees and your bottom line.