Sunday, August 9, 2009

Old habits die hard (Part 2 of 11 on Managing Tech 2 Meet Mission)

When I get up in the morning I have a set of "rituals" that should occur in order without interuption if my day is going to go well. My rituals involve coffee, email, facebook, coffee, shower (usually) and a little more coffee. And within each one of those, there is another set of rituals and patterns, like how many times I stir my coffee, order I dry myself off after shower, emails I look forward to everyday, websites I check each morning for fun (like woot), etc.
Now many of you may argue with how, when or why I do these things and you may even be right in your arguements. And I would imagine that all of us have these rituals.
Tea is better!
Here are the statistics saying that more people around the world like Tea and that it has more possible nutrition value. Plus it comes in many unique flavors and has such deep historical roots. So you need to switch to Tea today.
Um, no thanks. I enjoy coffee.
It's HOT!
It is too hot oustside for coffee. Why not enjoy a cold beverage? Maybe a soda? Or maybe put some ice in your coffee.
Um, no thanks. I enjoy coffee.
Anyway, I could really get carried away with my examples here but let me actually try to make sense for a minute and relate this to technology.
Often we come up with so lots of good logic, real facts, deep arguements, relevant reasons and whatever to get people to change their technology use, but it doesnt always work. Why is that? Um, no thanks. I enjoy coffee. (sorry had to say it again). It is because we are dealing with people. And people are complex. Then put those people together working somewhere to fight for a cause or mission they beleive in and it just gets more complex.
It is no longer as simple as, would you like to try tea instead today? You are asking people to change behavior, leave a comfort zone and risk failure, all while doing a job that is part of who they are.

How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: just one, but the light bulb has to really want to change.
But that doesnt matter to me, I may never change these habits, rituals or patterns, because I am comfortable. It doesnt matter to me that there is a better razor, newer shampoo, coffee is bad for you, I cant buy everything on woot, there is a more effecient way to use my time, etc. Logic and reasoning are not my only motivators for my behavior, choices and ability to change.
One thing I have learned that works well and is reinforced by Dahna in the book is that you have to manage change on an ongoing basis, not for individual projects. As Dahna calls it, you need to work toward an adaptive organization.
I tend to get irritated when people ask, how can I convince my organization to start using social media or networking? Because often after you ask questions, they dont want to work on real change, they just want the cool tools. There is a lack of regular effort to build toward that adaptive organization. When you start to talk about it they dont want to talk about an integrated communication, fundraising, marketing strategy because their organization just doesnt work that way. Well my push back is then dont start something like social media until that starts to happen or else it wont be as succesful.
Dahna offers some awesome advice in the Managing Technology to Meet Your Mission book to begin to work on a culture change. To begin creating conditions for ongoing change she suggests nonprofit leaders should begin:
  • Challenging assumptions and encouraging questions
  • Encouraging experimentation
  • Resisting complacency
  • Decentralizing decision making
Dahna has obvious expertise and experience with this topic. Her chapter was fabulous.
Wrap it up
Managing change around technology is not a one time goal. It is all about a long term strategy to create an adaptive organization with real relationships across the organization. You can take steps alone, but the journey is easier together.

Over 11 weeks I am doing a themed series of blog posts. Each week I will write about a chapter of the book called Managing Technology to meet your Mission. This week is on the 2nd chapter about Managing Change leader for). Also dont forget that NTEN is also running an AWESOME 2 day online conference! You should totally buy the book and sign up. (In case you are wondering, I am volunteering to do this, I am not getting paid or in any other way reimbursed for this. I just love NTEN and their events.)
Coffee photo from scottfeldstein, light bulb from Crashmaster007 on Flickr

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