Are your internal platforms as user-friendly as they should be?
I recently answered some questions as part of an interview for an education state agency.
I thought I might share some answers here.
'Innovation thrives times of crisis such as COVID19, how can organisations foster that energy long-term?'
Where change is happening, we recognise, record and reward to reinforce that adaptable mindset. It is incredibly important that organisations recognise and celebrate instances of change where there may previously have been resistance. It is important that this reward is shared at all levels. Social recognition is a value leadership tool, and it's just appropriate to reward people for their effort. People who change processes they have been working with and are comfortable with, in support of an organisations agenda, will disconnect from the culture if their effort is not supported and recognised. I have seen countless examples of this. This is a basic premise of the transformational leadership model, which is now more valuable than ever.
Change is difficult and it needs to be approached with a degree of sensitivity and empathy. If change is forced, the natural response is entrenched resistance, leading to disengagement and fracture. That becomes a nightmare scenario. We’re not all digital natives and tech can be a worrying divide for certain demographics in the workplace. It may be felt that change means the end, and this is something that needs to be addressed with clarity and support.
Change can be an evolution and opportunity rather than a threat.
A number of my clients are now implementing tech based processes and are finding that the change management process needs to be planned in a way that is more human-centric, recognising the human needs rather than the traditional process orientate approach. In certain spaces, younger staff are recruited to reverse mentor. They are paired with senior staff and during these sessions the senior staff are upskilled in the new ways of working, a simple example, using a tablet/iPad where a company is migrating to paperless.
In countless organisations, there has been resistance to hybrid and remote working for quite a while. This has been happening even where staff have been asking for remote work supported by tech based solutions for some time. With the pandemic it has forced people to adapt, and migrate to these more progressive models of work.
It is an important step, forced or otherwise.
The pandemic was the burning platform and it moved people who would never have moved otherwise. It serves as tremendous proof that change is possible, and this success is what we bank and roll out in times of fear, uncertainty, and resistance. We remind people of their capacity to evolve. We champion the journey. We celebrate iteration and the disregard for perfection. This was possible because we knew it was safer to try something new as expectations were lowered and it was safe to just try. There was an interesting period of kindness in play. People didn’t have to be perfect, and there was forgiveness where previously high standards of expectation and professionalism were inhibiting opportunities to innovate.
There will be more opportunities to innovate and now there is momentum in play it is important that we recognise, reward, and promote these successes. Ultimately, maintaining this energy and the capacity for change and innovation requires understanding, awareness, interest-based negotiation, iteration and accepting the imperfect.
What do you see as the biggest mistake organisations make when trying to implement the use of innovative tools?
It’s a golden rule, but so often neglected, understand the user needs. That extends to internal and external stakeholders at the various stages of the implementation process. People are so often attracted to the quick win, or shiny new object in their space. Unfortunately it is not always fit for purpose or, there is a knowledge gap that can induce fear and stalls or negatively impacts implementation and use. People talk about the extended length of time it takes to learn to use a new piece of equipment or platform as being enough reason to avoid it entirely.
There are highly expensive platforms developed and equipment purchased for departments that are never used appropriately, or at all for a range of reasons. This leads to a faltering in trust for future projects, a misplacing of blame on the tech or innovation in general, rather than the poor planning, training, preparation and implementation. If leaders don’t believe in the value of tech based interventions enough to roll them out appropriately, why should anyone else? Find or create champions, give them a voice and a platform to communication the value of the intervention.
Each use-case will have similarities and differences in terms of design, delivery and implementation. Ultimately we want to remove as much friction as possible to create a smooth and intuitive engagement for the user steeped in their perception of value. To understand what this looks like means we have to engage with the user. I don’t give wholesale ownership of the design process over to the user, but the days of the designer working in isolation are long gone. We now, thankfully exist in a space of co-creation, meaning the users needs are to the fore. Neglecting the users voice in the design and implementation of new tools leads to valueless ‘solutions’ that won't fit the need, loss of resources, financial, time and good will. I find shoehorning solutions into spaces where they aren't needed to be massively frustrating. It creates a ripple effect that impacts the support and uptake of innovation projects for a long time to follow. They serve as a great cautionary tale and argument for maintaining a mediocre the status quo.
I hear complaints from staff across organisations about their internal platforms. They are often clunky, lack an intuitive interface, are not inclusive in design or present enough obstacles to deter users, or at the very least, reduce the enjoyment of using them. We now exist in a digital world, we are surrounded by powerful, functional and fluid tech. It is reasonable that employees will expect the same level of intuitive design and fluidity from their in-house tools.