disruptionIn his interview on the great “How I Built This” podcast hosted by Guy Raz, Honest Tea founder Seth Goldman was talking about his challenges in selling a drink that had very little sugar to an American population that likes their drinks with a lot of sugar. This may come as a surprise, but we Americans like our sugar.

“To take people in a different direction,
you have to disrupt where they are going.”

Goldman introduced Honest Tea through disruption. He sold hundreds of thousands of bottles. The company was bought by Coca-Cola. Goldman became a rich man. We didn’t ask Goldman for tea, and yet he made it, and he convinced us we should be drinking a less sweet, but still delicious drink. It would be better for us. He was right. As so many Americans pursue a healthier lifestyle, maybe such a drink was inevitable. Maybe it was going to happen anyways, but Goldman brought it about in a way that made him and his company successful through disruption.

Just like technology. New technology in the workplace is inevitable as well, yet rarely do we enthusiastically embrace the change brought about by the new software. We accept the new tools grudgingly, and we resent the change and time that incorporating those new tools into our workflow takes.

Disruptive though the introduction of new technology may be, there are ways that we can acknowledge that disruption, and productively incorporate the tool into our work flows, work habits, and work places. Just like tea with a little less sugar, it will be good for us.

  1. Offer comprehensive training: Make it deliberate and obvious. Don’t just talk about why the software will be helpful, show how it will be helpful. Apply the technology to current projects so people will see, in real time, how it may benefit their work.
  2. Answer questions: Don’t make the end of the training the end of the learning. Make sure that every question after the training is answered. Make the answer to one person available to everyone. Avoid having to share the same answer over and over again. Use Google Hangouts, use Yammer, use whatever collaborative platform you have available to you and make sure your users know how they can connect more information more often
  3. Require usage: There is a time for gentle encouraging, and there is a time to reinforce the message that…”we have made an investment in this software, and we need you to use it.”
  4. Abandon old platforms: Don’t enable your colleagues to use the software your organization is trying to move away from. If you are moving from Skype to Zoom, only accept the call if they are calling you on Zoom. You have made the switch to Microsoft Dynamics CRM? Only meet with your staff if they have their CRM reports in hand to show that the new platform is being used. The new software is not being introduced just to have a shiny new thing. It needs to be used, and you need to compel its usage.
  5. Make it about more than just work: Empower your users to use the new software to talk about their pets, their hobbies or their families. If they can start to use the software while focused on something that is interesting, fun and amusing to them, it will be easier for them to make the transition to use the software for work. Disruption does not need to be only unpleasant or unhappy, we can encourage a little fun along the way.

We are not inspiring a political coup, we are not causing upheaval through revolution, but changes in the way people do their work can be upsetting and very disruptive. With a good strategy, and a lot of empathy, there is no reason this disruption can’t bring wonderful things for your organization and team members.

Enjoy a glass of ice tea, and let the disruption commence.

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