Unfolding plans 25 – Something has to give and the technology is going to help

I’ve noticed a subtle change.  Services are coming to us asking for help.  The drive to use technology is growing at pace.  I don’t know if austerity has helped but it has certainly sharpened our focus.  As the cuts have gone deeper and deeper there is an increasing realisation that we can’t do the same things as we have always done either quicker or with less resource.  Something has to give and the technology is going to help.

We’ve set up a number of sessions with our colleagues in the delivery services teams.  They are really enjoyable.  They give us a chance to present ICT Services in a different way, one in which we are seen to be helpful rather than a hindrance, where we enable their change rather than say no to their plans.  I came into this role to add value and this is the way that we can.

They follow the same routine.  People describe what they do and the pinch points that they are facing.  We make a few suggestions about the immediate things we can tackle and we end up by agreeing to come along and watch the way that the work flows through their organisations.

There are some common themes.  How do we convert analogue processes to be more digital?  How do we deliver work as close to the point of its creation as possible?  What are we doing that we could stop?

But there is one overriding theme that is common to every meeting that we have.  It is called culture.  In all of the things that we do it is not the technology that holds us up but rather it is the people.  It is their unwillingness, or rather reluctance, to change the way that they work that is a significant block.  This is the way that we’ve always doing things around here.

John Seddon, managing director of Vanguard Consulting tells you that it is not the people, it is the system.  The lower down the hierarchy the truer this statement is but towards the top of an organisation the people are the system. They preside over the culture of the organisation. It may be all pervading but they are in charge and there is a difference between not knowing and endorsing.  As the saying goes if we can’t change the people we should change the people.  Better instead to work with those colleagues to show how change can be affected.  That is where we find ourselves.

You can lead a horse to water.  You can bring new technology but getting people to change their ways is a harder thing to do.  You need to work with them to show how lovely, clear and refreshing the water can be and let them come to their own decision about whether or not it is time to drink.  Too many times we have put new devices into the hands of those who are not ready.  Most times we have assumed that it was their technical skill that was lacking but it is most likely that it was their cultural position that required attention.

This is where we need to be.

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