“Technology is changing too fast!” this is a remark that anyone working in either Demand Management or IT has heard at least once in the last 3 or 4 years. There’s nothing wrong with this statement and, in fact, it is absolutely true that technology is evolving at a very fast pace. So how to make business users feel confortable in this ever changing evironment? There’ not a “one fits all” answer considering that each individual is different, but we can identify four attitudes towards technology that each DM should be able to face.
As Demand Managers we have to interact on a daily bases with a number of business users that have very dirrent charateristics and knowledge and that definitively have different approaches to change. Technology has impacted our lives in a very significant way in the last 10 to 15 years and has changed the way in which we go through are daily routine both at home and in the office. Change might be a refreshing experience, for those who are ready to embrace it or a terrible nightmare for those who dread the “next thing coming“. This behaviours can easily be transferred to how business users approach the evaluation of new tools and application in the workplace and could determine the success or the utter faiulre of a technology transformation project.
Having a strong grasp of the people a DM has to intercat with it’s one of the characteristics a Demand Manager should definitively master. In this perspective a study by Christian Kerschner and Melf Hinrich Ehlers helps us in defining the different attitudes people can have when facing new techonologies. The study identifies 4 different categories:
- Enthusiasm: this categoy includes the persons that are the so called technolphiles and identify tecnology as a good and positive element tha is able to solve problems. They see technology as an enthropy optimizator that provides them with unlimited resources.
- Determinism: people belonging to this category has a very practical approach to technology. They perceive it as a way of improving self and company efficiency and they are convinced that technology is the result of evolution. Technology changes are therefore inevitable and trying to stop them is useless
- Romanticism: sometimes people have a conflictual relationship with technology. They are both enthusiasts and opposers and usually end up having a very complicated relationship with tech-related topic. They have the belief that technology is governed by uncleared and undefined rules and are very selective about what to accept and what not.
- Scepticism: sceptics have generally a negative attitude towards technology and change more in general. They believe that technology has yet to prove not to be harmful and usually are technophobic.
Being able to quickly identify the category to which our business stakeholders and users belong to is a key step towards understanding how to convey their inputs in a way that will allow them to add value to the initiative. Even though sceptics might not be one or our best clients they can still provide valuable inputs to the discussion and sometimes generate positive conflict from which new and better ideas might sprite. At the same time we should be aware that a sceptic will always try to drive the initiative away and not towards change.
Enthusiasts are definitively the best people’s category to deal with when carrying out tehnology transformation projects. They can be internal sponsors of the solution and usually have a genuine interest for project activities. They are well informed and try to help as much as they can. We can rely on them and make them the project champions but in some cases we should be careful because they might take it too far…
Deterministic people are focused on the result and see technology as an effective means to achieve it. They are realiable, skilled in their field and even though they will not be good sponsors of our initiavite they will be a effectively help in carrying it out
The hardest category to approch are Romantic since they are very selective about what they approve and what not and this selection is carried out based on the background and beliefs of the specific person. They are quick to change their mind and could represent a problem if not managed correctly, instilling doubts on more confident users.