Introducing new technologies in the workplace can be challenging. With each new business intelligence (BI) tool, there needs to be an accompanying strategy for how that technology will be implemented and communicated. Understanding where this strategy can go wrong, as well as being able to identify common barriers to entry, will help give your organization an advantage when it comes to taking meaningful steps to overcome these challenges.
8 Barriers to New Technology Initiatives (And How to Overcome Them)
Barriers to Strategy Implementation
1. Head in the clouds, feet on the ground
If your business intelligence strategy is closely aligned with your vision for the company, it will help increase your employee’s understanding of both. It will take your vision from something that is theoretical and abstract, to something that people are actively working with. However, if your strategy is so ambitious that it is no longer practical, it may be hard to get your BI project off the ground. Employees will be more reluctant to spring into action when they don’t even know where to start. Remember that it is the direction, not intentions, that leads you to successful implementation.
2. Eyes on the prize
Business leaders who are focused entirely on the immediate matters right in front of them often lose sight on their main outcomes and objectives. With business intelligence projects, however, you need to be able to balance “now” and “then.” It can be difficult to stay on top of long-term goals when you are feeling the immediate pressure of the next report or meeting. That’s why it’s important to remain focused on what you want out of this project. Why did you start it in the first place? What metrics indicate you’re heading in the right direction? Keeping these long-term goals in mind helps you recognize potential detours early on and correct course.
3. Recognize wants vs. needs
Even the best business leaders can make the human mistake of getting wrapped up in what they like to do instead of things that the strategic direction requires. Leaders should only be focused on the tasks that no one else can do. If someone else can do the task, it’s important to delegate and monitor the progress and outcome.
If you are a manager implementing a new software, for example, its important to give your employees the necessary training and research to use the software. That way, you can work on developing a strategy for what the software will be used for and what goals you would realistically like to achieve, without having to personally work with the software on a day-to-day basis.
4. Clear the fog
If you aren’t continually reviewing the results from your new business strategy, you risk losing focus. Without a clear focus, it can feel like you are trying to navigate through a dense fog. Strategic direction must be front and center of any new initiatives, as it determines that focus.
Prioritizing your efforts and planning out the sequence, timing, and resources required to make it through each step of you plan can help clear your path. For each step, identify tangible milestones to build accountability measures around, so you can see results along the way to your larger end-goals. Quantify your efforts whenever possible, and tie them back to efficiency, revenue, or other key objectives of your business. Document and share any “quick wins” that you observe to help boost confidence in your new business strategy.
5. Teamwork makes the dream work
Teamwork is essential to successfully implementing any new strategy (not to mention achieving your organization’s goals). You need to have buy-in from every level of the organization, with educated leaders to guide the way. Clear messaging and a solid validation of the investment can help facilitate senior management buy-in for a new BI tool and its accompanying strategy.
Poor communication has been the downfall of many promising strategies. If the changes seem too daunting, there is a greater chance that team members will resist, which can undermine the successful implementation of the strategy. Transparency and open communication lines are crucial elements for smooth transition. Introduce the technology early, be realistic about its complexity, and help the future daily users understand how it will help make their roles more efficient.
Barriers to Business Communication
1. “Long” distance (work) relationships
When you think about who you talk to most often at work, it’s most likely the person who sits closest to you. In fact, personal interaction at work drops significantly beyond a distance of 25-30 yards. Needless to say, distance poses a problem in the workplace if employees aren’t located near the people with whom they most often work. This means that the office layout should be subject to change depending on what the current strategies and initiatives are.
Distance between managers and the employees working in their departments can also pose a problem, as it can make them seem unapproachable. If that is a problem that your employees are having, checking in with your team members on a regular basis, moving to a closer office, or implementing an open-door policy are all potential solutions to improve communication and reduce that feeling of isolation.
2. Setting the mood in meetings
What if I told you the content of a meeting may not be its most important component? In fact, some of the most critical communication occurs before the meeting even begins. The planning process, lead up to, and ambiance of a meeting communicate much more than you may think. Meetings are often a waste of time if you are unable to effectively communicate. Ask yourself:
- How are meetings held?
- Are people early or late?
- Who gets invited?
- What’s on the agenda?
- How long does it last?
It’s important to foster the kind of environment that welcomes and encourages multiple ideas and perspectives, especially if the meeting is a kick-off event for a new strategy or initiative.
3. Hear ‘em out
It’s crucial for leaders to develop good listening habits, especially during times of change. It can be challenging to deal with skeptical employees who are resistant to adopting new technologies that could benefit the business. However, listening can help you understand different people’s opinions and consider their perspective. If you don’t know how to listen, you won’t be able to effectively lead people with different personalities and strengths towards your goals.
Don’t tune people out because the subject is uninteresting or you don’t understand it. Instead, be an active listener who isn’t afraid to ask questions. Focus on fully hearing and understanding what others are trying to say before jumping to conclusions or prematurely reacting. They may have some valid points or a simple request, such as training or resources, that would make them feel more comfortable with the upcoming changes.