Implementing technology is easy

Other doctors are available

The solution to problems may be quite simple. Seeing the results however, may take a lot more effort.

In 1847, Ignaz Semmelweiss discovered that if doctors washed their hands before attending women in childbirth it dramatically reduced deaths from puerperal fever. But before his work could have much benefit  he had to persuade people – principally his medical colleagues – to change their behaviour. [From The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett.]

What is true in medicine is also true in technology. Quite often the easy bit is providing the technology as most is based upon logic. Do this and you will get this, but anyone who has ever lived will know that life is not like that. People find  it hard to define what they want, especially as they confuse needs and desires. People also, in the main, don’t like change.

When you are introducing new technologies therefore, you are not addressing the logical aspects of an organisation but rather the rituals and culture that comes to define it. It is the latter that makes an organisation function or be dysfunctional. They are not logic machines but rather a collection of people with different beliefs, preferences and desires. An organisation is far more complex than the sum of its operational functions. If this were not so, then companies would have long ceased to exist, to be replaced by robots.

Herein lies the dilemma that people face when trying to adopt new technologies. It is a two edged problem, one logical and the other cultural. The skills needed to implement something new are  diametrically opposed and it is very rare that one person can be proficient in both.

Definition, strategy, training and adoption are cultural issues. Development, install and maintenance are technical issues. Support perhaps transcend both.

This is why so many technical projects struggle. They are addressed as either a technical or cultural project when, in fact they are both and what is really needed is someone in the middle who can communicate between the two aspects.

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