Let’s Hang On

Okay, most of you are old enough to know that the image here is of a phone. We still have handsets in most of our offices, but what if it were attached to a rotary dial? You’d be appalled.

I was in a professional firm’s New York office a couple of years ago and was shocked to see rotary phones still in use. It was a sobering moment. Why oh why would those phones be in use? Touch phones came out in 1963 – about 55 years ago! The experience got me feeling nostalgic and I started humming the old 4-Seasons song. Come on, some of you know it…hum along.

Let’s hang on to what we’ve got

Don’t let go girl, we’ve got a lot

Got a lot o’ love between us

hang on, hang on, hang on to what we’ve got

(Doo-woop, doo-woop, doo-woop)

While the use of rotary phones is an extreme example, not taking advantage of newer technologies is an issue. Let’s consider why and hopefully make progress towards change.

You know it, you like it – been using it for years. When you’re comfortable with a product, it feels like there’s no reason to make waves. That’s why millions and millions of people still use Windows 98 or 2000. It’s easy to stick with something that you believe satisfies all your needs and besides, you are the foremost expert. But this attitude is like quicksand – you become trapped in your habits.  You must resist.

Let’s be real. Implementing new technology – software, systems, or even processes is not easy. Your concern is real. It’s valid. There’s always a little pain before the gain. Even when your current process isn’t working, the thought of implementing a new system or process can be daunting. Experience shows us that the feeling of dread is worse if you weren’t involved in the decision, or worse yet, you were involved and you made your position clear…you don’t support the change. You have valid reasons why you believe there’s too much risk, the cost is too high, adoption levels won’t meet expectations. But, the decision has been made. What to do? The best you can. Work on putting your concerns and fears aside. The ship has sailed. Help it get to the next port.

Here’s some tips. Know that fear is real. Fear guides even the willing. Fear of added work, fear of not learning as fast as others expect, fear of negative budget impacts, fear of not knowing what to be fearful of. How to put fear back in the corner? Use evidence. Evidence is key to winning this battle. Do your due diligence and build confidence – yours and your team. Identify worst-case scenarios and work through them.

Tip 2…pay attention to your personal style and try to learn the style of those you work with. Listening carefully to what you tell yourself and what co-workers say when discussions take place will give you the clues you need. Statements like these help you take the right action.

“I’m being hit with all this, and I’m completely overwhelmed!”

“I’m comfortable with the old system and know all the workarounds.”

“This new platform doesn’t have all the features I want. I’ll wait for the next version.”

“I have no clue how this fits into our strategy.”

“I’ve tried, but I’m too busy, so I’ve gone back to the old way of doing things.”

If you tend to fight change, push yourself to get uncomfortable, do research to help overcome the fear that keeps us trapped in our habits. It’s very likely that “Let’s hang on to what we got.” is the wrong song.