When I say change is good, I’m not talking about the change in your pocket (which is also good,) but I’m talking about change in technology.
We have all seen those companies stuck on old software or hardware. I mean, think for a second about how long Windows XP was being used places even though it was nearly 10 years old, and many new releases had been made since Windows XP.
According to Freelancers: 10 Things Clients Hate Hearing, number 7 is “I’ve Changed This To Make It Better”.
How we introduce our clients to new technology is very important. A lot of times we just come out and say that this is better and implement it, without giving them the reasons for why it is actually better, and also walk them through how to use it. Since us geeks are both users and developers (usually), we can understand both sides. I have dealt with this countless times. A client won’t want me to update them from a system that has enormous security issues from 5 years ago. It’s what they’re comfortbale with. They’ve put a lot of time and energy and money into it. I think us geeks need to start doing a better job of introducing our clients to these technological changes. Before we can start improving how we introduce change, I think that it’s smart for us to understand the most common reasons that people resist or fear change, so that we can use those to our advantage and make sure that we address them when we introduce new change.
So, what are those top reasons that people resist change? I found a great article that walks through the 10 most common reasons. Jumping right in, I will paraphrase the top 10 reasons below.
People love to have, and maintain control. Normally, since people feel technologically impaired and aren’t able to work on their websites themselves, they like to feel like they still have some control over their own website, so even if it’s illogical to not change (or dangerous [security wise]), they might do it just to feel like they maintain some control.
The article describes some steps to work on this fear, which are: “…create certainty of process, with clear, simple steps and timetables.”, and if you’ve ever known a programmer or geek very well, you’ll know timetables are something we are not good with. So one possible step for geeks to improve on introducing change is to provide timetables, and let’s be honest…some muggle simple steps.
We as geeks (lovers of power) need to make sure that we aren’t just changing things without talking to the client about the new changes first. Super important, and no need for elaboration as it’s pretty self-explanatory.
A huge thing that we can do as geeks to help clients feel comfortable with large technology changes is to help make the segway or learning process similar to their old system or method so that it makes sense and isn’t *too* different to them.
5. Loss of Face
Another big reasons clients don’t like change, is that if you are saying the current product looks bad, or functions poorly, and maybe they helped build that system or determine how it should look (very likely if it’s bad.) So we might want to be sensitive when insulting prior work, and give these critiques more softly. Also complimenting how it worked for so long, etc. would be another good method.
Let’s be honest, they know just as well as we do that they are technological-idiots. So we need to help build up their competency with the things that they *do* know.
7. Additional Work
Clients just aren’t going to like if a new system has a lot of additional work that the previous system didn’t. We need to be mindful of the old processes that are in place, so that we can be simplifying things for the client, and not making things more difficult to do.
8. Rivers have Ripples, so does Change
The Ripple Effect. Sometimes clients fear that changing one thing will affect other areas of their business, or cause a lot of other negative change because of small positive change.
9. Past Resentment Surfaced
Before encouraging change, we need to clear up anything in the past that could have caused resentment. If someone resents you, they may not be as open to your inciting change in something of theirs.
10. Real Threat
Sometimes their fears are actually valid threats, so we need to be mindful, especially if their service or website is about a topic we are not experts on (which can happen, geeks).
A lot of these issues boil down to communication issues. We all know geeks are not very good at communicating, practicing to fix the above issues will be a great start to helping your clients better accept change that you are wanting to incite. If you are interested in reading another great article, it walks through why change is so difficult, and 9 ways to make change easier: http://strategicsimplicity.com/why-change-is-so-difficult-and-9-ways-to-make-it-easier
Enjoy the images below as some thoughts for the day on change.