Adapting to Changes in Technologies

As new technologies and software are released and older versions become antiquated or obsolete, it puts pressure on arts organizations to keep up.  Adapting to these changes and pressures isn't only a matter of finding the  budget to buy the most recent upgrade of a productivity suite, sometimes it is about fostering the change through your organization and making sure that the new technology is successful.  It also involves thinking strategically and tactically. The culture in any organization is a living thing.  To keep it healthy you have to be cognizant of what is happening:  is communication good/open?  Are new ideas welcomed?  Are concerns being addressed appropriately?  How is morale?  Understanding the health of your organization and working towards making it healthier can be intrinsic to having an efficient and productive organization.

Before approaching any technological implementation, first step back and ask the question:  "What does success look like?" Define the improvements in efficiency, accuracy, and outputted product at the outset and then set these expectations against real data.  If you know of another organization that adopted this technology, ask them what their expectations, roadblocks, and successes were.  Do research, look for reviews of the product and testimonials on both the positive and negative side and use these to help you form your expectations as well.

If you want the people who will be using the software to become adept at it, then it would be wise to ask them how they feel about the change, what questions they have, and if they have any concerns that can be addressed.  Talking with people is your second step after defining your picture of success.  Find out who is enthusiastic about the new tech and who is resistant.  Put the enthusiastic person to work as your champion and keep tabs on the resistor.  Your job is to convince the people who are neither enthusiastic nor resistant that adoption of the new tech is a good idea.

Addressing needs as they arise becomes important as the new technology is being implemented.  Frequently software does many of the tasks at your organization better and a couple of them worse.  Being aware of these eventualities and having handy work arounds or other ways to mitigate the pain will be essential for evangelizing individuals and departments that have minor doubts.  Further being able to show the benefits in other areas may help towards this end as well.

Change management is a good idea for large changes in an organization (migrating to a Customer Relationship Management System from several disparate systems is an example).  There have been extensive writings about organizational change.  A good one is from John Kotter, a professor at Harvard Business School, who put forward the eight-step idea around change management in his book "Leading Change."  Here are his eight steps below:

1)  Create Urgency

2)  Form a Powerful Coalition

3)  Create a vision for change

4)  Communicate the vision

5)  Remove Obstacles

6)  Create Short-term Wins

7)  Build on the change

8)  Anchor the changes in Culture