We have the most innovative tech, why does the project IRR suck?

If you don’t change behavior, it won’t matter how innovative your technology is …

 We all love technology. We are bombarded with amazing technology. It simplifies our life. Drives efficiency. Speeds up process and automates mundane tasks. Technology makes us happy, connected, and collaborative. But, only if we change our behavior and commit to proper use. 

I just finished a project with a Fortune 100 client. I was extremely excited to consult on finding innovative technology to help reduce costs in a major expense category.  Who wouldn’t want to research exciting technology and interview experts to help drive innovation?!

I enjoyed all the expert interviews and research. Together we found some cool new startups, products, and platforms. This new technology will help this client now and into the future. But, the most important take-away all of us … behavior. Some people may think … well duh … yet changing behavior is taken for granted all the time. The thought process is, "supply the technology and teach them how to use it. Everything else will work out."  Yet, we continue to be disappointed Once we finally calculate those IRR or ROI numbers

We get so wrapped up with innovative technology. We fail to realize the importance of changing behavior. Luckily on this project, changing behavior was a major theme from the beginning. Still, this project made me realize behavior is a perfect topic to discuss.

It doesn’t matter how innovative you are … how much technology you purchase, use, or implement … if you don’t change behavior, it won’t work

You’re return on investment won’t come to fruition. Your time management won’t get better. You won’t work out more. You won't increase your work/life balance, reduce costs, or exceed any other goal.  The “user” of the innovative technology must choose to take advantage of and properly use the technology. We always have a choice. Should I continue to do it the old way or the new / innovative way? If I change, I’ll have to learn something new. That takes time. I’m going to make mistakes and get frustrated.

Innovative technology is only the opportunity or medium that allows a change in behavior

If you think about it, the innovative technology is only an “opportunity” to change. Or, it’s the medium for the ability to change. It’s not “the change.” For innovation to happen, the user has to choose and commit to the technology. So if you are designing innovative technology, why not provide your customers with the steps to drive the change needed to modify behavior as well? If you are the purchaser of the innovative technology, understand that the technology won’t change you. You have to commit to the technology and mindfully change your own behavior to capture the full benefits.

 Innovative Technology Provider – Even if you haven’t sold 1 of your products, develop a change management strategy for your future customers. Understand the outcome they are seeking. Work backwards to determine the exact steps it takes to deliver that outcome. Build a generic change management process that you can provide to your customer as a starting point. As you take on more clients, work with your previous clients to design change management best practices to alter the behavior of the end users. This process will help you create more value and stickiness to your customers. It will help them reach and exceed their IRR/ROI hurdles.

 Innovative Technology Purchaser – When you’re evaluating new technology, ensure that you are developing a change management plan. If the supplier doesn’t have any best practices readily available, ask them to build some prior to purchasing. If that’s not possible, think through the end-user process. Develop a training and change management strategy. Don’t just teach your employees how to use the technology, put a lot of focus on how it will help them. Provide real life or day-to-day examples on the improvement this new technology will bring.

End-User – Be open to innovative technology, but ask/look for examples on how this innovation will help. If you don’t receive that information, volunteer to be the expert for your function, business group, etc. Dive into the new technology; learn it from the inside out. Commit to changing YOUR behavior via the technology. Provide open, honest, and constructive feedback after you’ve given it a good try! The old way might have worked just fine, but maybe the new way will open up even better opportunities to increase efficiency or spend more time with you family. You’ll never know until you commit and give it a shot.

 This also applies to your personal life

Think about it this way … personal fitness trackers have exploded on the market. Look around you; tons of people are wearing their favorite brand. Whether it’s a FitBit or Garmin Vivoactive (my personal tracker). But, are they wearing one to be apart of the crowd or are they truly changing their behavior? Do they check their steps each day to talk about it with friends or are they using the included software to track, analyze, and change? The majority of people are casually wearing this technology to not feel left out. However, can you imagine the impact to overall health if everyone was tracking, analyzing, and committing to changing their behavior? The technology is there to make a huge impact on health … what’s lacking is full commitment to change behavior.

 Apply this same thought process to the new technology you are providing to the market or purchasing for your company

 Unless you have a robust change management and communications process, the majority of your customers (end-users) or employees will either not use it or not fully commit. Only a select few will change their behavior enough to reap the benefits of innovation.