Convincing leaders to open up their wallets

Behavioural change is interesting. Despite the apology of the magazine (HBR), it turns up interesting suggestions. Sometimes.

Convincing Your Company Leaders to Invest in New Technology

This uncertainty is common in the business world. Whether it’s a new tool, a new colleague, or shifts in the wider market, it’s natural to feel trepidation about the upcoming impact. It therefore stands to reason that no matter how much change someone has experienced, an unknown outcome is often the biggest barrier to action.

There are several psychological factors — or mind traps — that business leaders fall into when making decisions about digital strategy. These can vary depending on the size of the organization.

I like the term “mind-traps”. Group think usually prevails in executive decision-making. It is difficult to “make-believe” the projected numbers and data, and if linear thinking happens in the spread-sheets, it is not difficult to fathom the fear that disruption will provoke. Even the hint of change will make them go into spasm. If ideas are good, it requires solid ground in execution with clear lines of communication on why change has been suggested in the first place.

In larger companies, it’s also easier for staff to experience feelings of disposability, especially when change is afoot. This absence of psychological safety makes them less confident to speak up, something only amplified during crises when people tend to follow orders and ideas in the pursuit of stability. This has negative connotations for businesses that need to pursue digital transformation, because its greatest advocates can find themselves muted.

I completely agree with this assessment.

In short, one needs to understand the behavioural change mindset and address that accordingly. For example, a shift to electronic medical records. The old adage says no one was fired for investing in IBM (or BlackBerry) as the “de-facto” choice. It might ring true for Apple (or Microsoft), but convincing the leadership for digital transformation requires a clear line of sight on measurable outcomes for revenues (direct and indirect) costs. Cost savings require a careful validation (and user experience) studies on existing processes and how the change will bring about “efficiency gains”.

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