Lee's 'Better Communication Results' blog

A blog to help YOU communicate better for better business results!

Friday, August 12, 2005

Change or die: why old processes can kill

Kathy Sierra has it right. Again. [Gosh, she's a fantastic read - I'd love to meet her in person.]

As she says, "If today's business mantra is "change or die", we should all be looking for ways to make sure we don't fall asleep in the comfort of our working systems. And boy do I know how seductive those comfort zones can be... "

To her list of bizarre 'stuck in the mud' decisions I can add:

* a company who redesigned their website but forgot to add in any user navigation or 'why we changed things around' help, because their expensive web-unsavvy graphic design consultants had been given too much power (a reflection of Hopkins' Law of Brain Fade Consultancy — the more money you pay a consultant, the more likely you are to psychologically invest in their decision, no matter how bizarre or erroneous it might be, and the less likely you are to elicit any independent, check-and-balance advice).

* a former client (I jettisoned them) who viewed 'communication' as something only the owner/manager CEO or the Sales Manager should be responsible for, irrespective of whether they had the skills to communicate a coherent, grammatically half-way-correct message or the ability to say it without offending someone.

* an accountancy & legal firm in the UK who refused to implement a new technology solution (a PC and MS Works) for their secretarial staff, insisting they keep their aging golf ball electric typewriters and manually re-type the same letters over and over again, because 'this is how lawyers work and how we've always done it'. This was in 1998.

The 'this is the way we do things around here' mentality of business is seductive, comforting and usually accommodated to by staff who, in the main, prefer not to rock the boat and jeopardise their employment.

But then, if you are willing to live in this comfortable world, don't be upset when you are suddenly displaced by someone or some country (think China or India) where someone 'gives a damn' or is prepared to work double the hours you do for less pay, or leapfrogs you in the technology stakes because they have a reduced barrier to entry (they don't have to un-learn old processes first).