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Managing Changing Technology: Strategic and Tactical Lessons, Part One

(September 2006) posted on Tue Oct 03, 2006

Explore impact of new technology and the benefits of timing its implementation properly.

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By Mark A. Coudray

Some production artists feel it's in their best interest to sabotage or cause the new methods to fail. They want to stay in the comfort zone where there are no surprises and everything is a known commodity. It's hard enough to keep up with the impossible deadlines, let alone take on new responsibilities and unknown processes. So where does all this leave the managers and owners faced with making change happen in order to maintain a competitive position in the market?

When to adopt new technologies

Let's set aside the underlying employee issues for a moment. Strategically, our primary objective is to balance new technology, innovation, and methods with economic productivity. We want to be ahead of our competition, but with technology that is mostly stable and reliable. Knowing when to jump in is just as important as recognizing a breakthrough technology.

Any new technology comes with implied bugs and unreliability. The earlier we adopt, the more unstable the technology and the more work falls on us to achieve a successful, predictive outcome. Early adopters are true partners in the process and have a responsibility to the manufacturers to let them know what failed and why. Additionally, they need to be in a position to understand the concepts and exactly how the technology works.

When things break, or fail to function, we need to be able to diagnose and correct, or at the very least provide constructive feedback. Naïve early adopters are under the impression the latest, greatest technology will work right out of the box. That almost never happens. This false sense of reliability is one of the main reasons technology fails to be successfully implemented. When unreliable or unstable technology is thrust upon the unprepared, undereducated, deadline-driven organization, it's a formula for failure. If we are not in a position to accommodate these factors, we should not adopt at this point.


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