Digital transformation: People as show stoppers?

In much of what we do in the software industry, this sentence by Voltaire proves true.

Companies want to move forward, hold their own in the market, improve their processes, compensate for the lack of skilled workers with technology.

But the people, the employees, find it difficult to cope with the associated change in their everyday working lives.

In December 2017, as a partner of dbh, I had the pleasure of attending the traditional Father Christmas Open House event.

https://www.dbh.de/aktuelles/aktuelles-archiv/vorweihnachtliches-zusammenkommen-bei-dbh/

In his welcoming speech, Marco Molitor spoke about how digitalisation always means change and that it is deeply human to feel a certain rejection against it.

The human loves progress and hates change
(Voltaire 1694-1778)

 

Voltaire’s quote made many participants smile, but most of them actually thought about it: there is something to what Voltaire said 300 years ago, and we in IT in the logistics sector have to struggle with this every day. We as software manufacturers and IT service providers, the management in the companies, the supervisors who are supposed to motivate their employees.

At the Logistics IT Congress in Würzburg in November, the speakers were asked what they saw as the show stoppers in digitalisation.

The unanimous answer was that neither technology nor financial or technical resources slow down digitalisation today.

It is the people who struggle with change, who do not have the necessary training to deal with new technologies, who are reluctant to adopt new processes for fear of losing their jobs.

Here we encounter a core problem.

Change requires empathetic change management.
But even with the best processes and “pick-up” of staff, we cannot avoid a significant psychological factor:

A change is experienced as a loss of what is familiar, even if it is a change for the better

As illogical as it may seem to us, this is deeply human and we must always keep it in mind if we want to bring about change.

I read about this in an article by Nico Rose:

“Loosely based on the motto: “So far we have done X, in the future we would like to do Y. Here are three good reasons why Y is better than X. Now let’s get started.” What is forgotten: Without exception, change means a loss for the employees, because something that has existed up to now is supposed to go.

This inevitably brings us into the field of the Nobel Prize winner for economics, Daniel Kahneman. In many experiments, he and his colleagues were able to prove that losses hurt us much more than gains of the same amount please us.“

https://www.xing.com/news/insiders/articles/wir-mussen-den-menschen-da-abholen-wo-er-steht-is-klar-chef-aber-wo-steht-er-denn-876795?xng_share_origin=web&xing_share=news

In our CRM projects we always put a lot of emphasis on supporting the management in change management.

Today, however, I have really learned something and will be even more attentive to the reactions of the users in future projects, workshops and trainings and will have much more understanding for their worries and fears, even though I am there to make their everyday work better.