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Innovation - "There is nothing to fear but fear itself"

I've recently been involved with a few clients that are tying to introduce new ways of managing sites, workshops etc by the use of varying types of technology. These include a full Office 365 project, developing a distinct App, using a tracking tool to manage product through the workshop. All of these have merits in their own right as the companies attempting change are trying to improve what they do, become more competitive and provide a better reporting service to clients, particularly where they are trying to claim extra's and variations. I'm sure if you work in the construction sector you're well aware of the difficulties where extras and variations are concerned and trying to get paid for doing them!

I've written many times about how hard change and adopting it can be, but the fact of the matter is that it's true and in many cases it fails because managers don't follow it through and allow it to be de-railed. This then means that any future changes can be treated in the same way and so the business can become stagnant.

I was speaking to a relatively new client the other day and introduced him to the "Form, Storm, Norm and Perform" methodology. Now, he's been trying to introduce a new method of tracking progress of jobs through his workshop and to the client. He tried to show one of his employees how it would work, only to be told "if you introduce this, I'll walk!" Naturally he backed off, which maybe we could argue that he shouldn't have done as he was allowing one employee to decide the fate of this new approach. But at least he new he was clearly in "Storm!"

So, we decided last week that we would introduce a 10 minute daily meeting using the technology to track projects and allow people to comment on what the progress was and where any issues were. Simple solution, I hear you say and yes it is but normally the best solutions are, aren't they? Needless to say, people soon found the benefit of having the technology and slowly but surely are embracing it as a good thing, rather than the threat they thought it would be. Sometimes, it's better to introduce new things on a "slow and steady wins the race" rather than a gung-ho radical approach to change.  

Another project, I am working on relates to the client developing their own App to improve record keeping on site, recording work hours, travel time etc. Now, I actually think this is a brilliant tool as all the project management information is in one place and management are able to undertake a site audit, without actually leaving the office if they choose to! However, currently, it is not perfect but is a work in progress. We're piloting the App this week and have already run into problems, all of which are solvable, some may take longer than others but the time and effort saving in the end will be worth it in relation to internal cost savings.

The risk with change and particularly with technology is the fear of it not working straight off the bat. Now, as someone who has worked in technology, I have to say that it's very rare that any technological solution won't have a few bugs to sort out when it goes live. Cue, a raft of "oh no they won't." The fact of the matter is that until you put the system (and that's any system) into use and strain you won't know how it and/or your people will react. There have been many stories of websites failing because companies underestimated the traffic to the site and caused it to crash.

So, the things to understand about using technology to effect change are these:

- It might not work perfectly, first time or even multiple times after that. You have to bear with it

- People will use the failing above to try and stop it from happening. "I knew this wouldn't work" syndrome and "we should go back to how it was done before."

- Management need to have the courage of their convictions to see it through to the end. Things may get worse before they get better. "Storm" to Norm." It will be worth it! You know that you just have to believe....

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