Last week we focused on issues that bring the execution of innovative ideas to a screeching halt. Today we are going to focus on another very common issue that paralyzes businesses. The contact flow of technology. There’s no doubt that new products and new software are being released at an obnoxiously fast pace. Even being in the industry, it is hard for us to keep up. Worse, the pace is going to accelerate as more companies start integrating more technology into their products and services. But there is good news, there is a way to manage this fire hose of new tech.
Problem: You can’t quite keep up with the technology
Ever feel like no matter what you do, you are always a step behind the technology curve? It always seems like someone is doing something new and cool, and you are struggling, managing a longer and longer list of technologies to evaluate.
Opportunity: Most people are battling the same issue, but there is a secret to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to technology. You need to decentralize your discovery and evaluation processes of new tools. By that, I mean you need to push out these processes to everyone within your organization. Sounds obvious right, but here is the trick; your employees cannot properly discover the tools that are right for the business, if they do not understand what that actually means. If you push out the discovery process, you must also have a system in place that links each employee’s responsibilities to the corresponding strategic business objectives of the organization.
Once employees know why they are performing their responsibilities, they will be better able to discover new software, services and tools to accomplish them. Even if you think your employees already know the why, it still needs to be documented and repeated, often. This constant focusing will get the teams aligned, and will provide a structure for them to properly evaluate new technologies.
The next step is getting them to work interdepartmentally to help vet ideas. Sharing knowledge across the organization will expose them to complicated vetting processes you are currently employing. Sales needs to understand how changes to their systems will effect operations, marketing needs to know how changes to their systems may effect sales, or finance. This global view will help to educate each department on the needs and concerns of the other departments, and over time will help to establish the framework for discovering and vetting new solutions.
McKinsey & Company’s transformative structure (linked in part two) provides a nice roadmap for this concept. But to summarize, the power comes from:
- Everyone in your company knowing your vision, values and goals
- Everyone understanding the company’s strategic objectives and how they relate to each persons’ responsibilities
- Having access to each department to help identify and build a vetting process for new solutions
Once you have that in place there is only one more piece of the puzzle; training. And this goes for you too! You’ll need to constantly evaluate the current technical abilities of the organization. Make it a priority to discover and attack any deficiencies you or your team have related to using technology. This includes simple things like fundamentals (word processing tools, spreadsheets), all the way to advanced software usage (industry specific business systems, CRM, ERP software, cloud based apps). The key is to be relentless on advancement. The higher your company’s baseline of knowledge surrounding technology, the more you will see benefit and the more likely you will be able to stay ahead and innovate.