Constant change v. Revolutionary change

May 27, 2006 at 9:28 am Leave a comment

I already reflected upon how purchasers help create the glut of technology that is not user centered.  Michael also raises good points about the culture of change in general. 

Michal is reflecting on Pip Coburn’s book, The Change Function. Coburn is discussing ways in which technology developers interact with and induce change in our culture.

People do resist change — depending upon their personality the resistance can be quite strenuous. Coburn and other writers have raised the point that technology must solve a pain. If the tool is more onerous than dealing with the pain of a current situation — users will not bother with the new tool.

Michael concludes that:

Coburn’s argument parallels what many proponents of library change, including myself, have been saying all along – for change to be successful it must be continuous, regular, and almost imperceptible.

I agree that most people accept change better if it is not a complete upheaval of their work day. My first thougt was to the organizations that move slowly that change is ineffective. Decisions are weighted down in the quagmires of meeting after meeting to get "everyone on board." In trying to make everyone happy, I have seen projects fall so far behind that the technology has already been updated by the time implementation finally rolls around! So, how is it that in an organization that is paralyzed by change, that the change that emerges is threatening to the users?

In my experience, this immobility is related to fear. Fear of a loss of power — fear of not being the resident expert — fear of looking powerless — fear of losing tasks that are an integral part of their job. Caution may be warranted, but when it is accompanied by fear and distrust it is paralyzing and counter productive. I think the key element that seperates the slow moving fearful organization from the slow moving user – concious organization is that the change is contant. The fear driven slowness generates fits and starts when something is partly implemented, or implemented then rolled back. This becomes a choppy experience which will not create happy users! The slow and constant approach requires an overarching vision and steady hand that then uses tools as a means to solve asks in a way that is of benefit to their users.


Entry filed under: Library Technology, User behavior.

DOPA: or more evidence that they don’t get the Net New tech must consider tolerance for change

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