Back in 2010 when I left my last real job and started work as a consultant and technology coach, my biggest issue was convincing business leaders that digital disruption was worthy of their attention. But over the last eight years the opportunities and challenges that technology creates have quickly moved front and center for many organisations.
Over just a short amount of time the leadership conversations have shifted from “Do we need to do something about this?” to “How do we catch-up?”
But the problem with playing catch-up is that there is often a disconnect between the leader’s desire to change things and the organisation’s ability to absorb that change. We need to acknowledge that the limiting factor in technology projects is no longer the technology, it’s people.
Perhaps the simplest way of thinking about this is in terms of momentum and perhaps a good way of understanding momentum is through the analogy of push-starting a car. When you push-start a car, building the momentum from a standstill requires that you start off slow. You and your mates (because it’s difficult to do by yourself) collectively brace and push, initially the car starts moving slowly, you shuffle forward and you maintain the pressure. As momentum builds your steps get bigger and the car starts moving faster. Eventually, if you’ve got enough momentum, the engine kicks over and starts doing the work.
What this analogy highlights is a couple of important things. Firstly, the car needs to move slowly before it can move fast. Which means organisations need to do the little projects before they do the big ones. Doing a big project when there is no momentum is like getting Usain Bolt to run full pelt into a stationary vehicle. The most likely outcome is that Usain and the car end up a little bit mangled…and the car won’t have moved much at all.
Second, no amount of desire or urgency can make the process go faster. If anything, an over inflated sense of urgency can hinder efforts more than help. Why is that? Because urgency means we are likely to try and cut corners or not follow things through to the end. And when you try and push start a car without following through to the end, the car conks out and you need to start building momentum all over again.
The only sure-fire way for organisations to respond to the opportunities and challenges of technology is to take a long term approach, start with the small things first, and focus on the momentum rather than the individual projects.
Speaker, Author and Advisor
Founder of the Digital Champions Club
Who is Simon Waller and how is he related to Lawrence?
Simon Waller is an author of two books (Analogosaurus: Avoiding Extinction in a World of Digital Business and The Digital Champion: Connecting the Dots Between People, Work and Technology) and a business consultant who currently assists Lawrence on various initiatives across the business helping them use digital tools to enhance the business. If you would like to find out more about Simon Waller and how he might be able to help improve the way your business works please head to his website https://www.simonwaller.com.au/.
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