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Just tell me what to do

I interviewed an executive leader in a large organisation the other day about how they apply technology in the workplace to do their work. They used a phrase that I have heard a lot over the past couple of years.

“I have too many choices. I don’t know where to start. Just tell me what to do and I will do it.”

For the technologist who rolled out those technologies, or the Adoption Specialist engaging with the stakeholder, that statement can take the wind out of your sails. “We have invested so much time, effort, and money putting these capabilities in place… we put a program in place to bring them on the journey… why aren’t our colleagues embracing them, encouraging others to use them, and… doing what is says on the tin… you know, being more collaborative?”

It is easy to blame the person on the receiving end. “They didn’t read the email”, “they didn’t attend the workshop”, “they didn’t listen to their local champion”, or “they didn’t look at our ‘what tool when’ infographic.

Maybe they did, but they didn’t connect the dots between the 3 touch points they had had with the rollout of the technology, and how they need to undo 20 years of “how we have always done things”.

Maybe they tried to figure it out, but got lost and confused with the multiple permutations of how the technology could be used for their work.

Maybe… just maybe, there was no chance of getting their attention in the first place. Because, well, the are not paid to care about technology (or no where near as much as you want them to).

Not all is lost

If we think about it… “Just tell me what to do” isn’t a statement of defeat. Or disengagement. It is the glimmer of light that we are looking for. It is someone who is looking for a foundation to stand on. Some structure. So they don’t feel like the biggest luddite in the room. So they don’t feel like they are drowning in a sea of technology choice, or confusion. When they already feel like they are drowning in work, back to back meetings, and all the other uncertainty that is going on around us at the moment.

So… what do we do?

Focus on one thing. Not the technology though… something far more familiar. The time consuming or frustrating things they have to deal with every day. Start small. Focus on one problem they can clearly articulate, and co-create “what to do” as a solution to that problem.

Tell them what to do, but not in the context of the technology, or what the project or IT team want. Do it in the context of something they care about.

“That makes sense. Now, lets talk about the other 17 things that take up way too much time in my day!”

The goal isn’t to get people to use the technology. The goal is to help people to get shit done. To help them get their lunch break back. Once we do that, we truly have their attention.

light fashion people woman

Hello world.

Sorry, it has been a while. In fact, probably a good six or seven years since I published anything here… on my turf.

There are plenty of excuses… like:

… just to name a few, with a sprinkling of family time in there too.

To be honest, when I started Adopt & Embrace, I had visions of documenting the journey regularly. I deleted the 200 or so posts I had shared here from 2006 through until 2015, so I could start fresh and share the story. And did so for the first few months. But for reasons unknown I didn’t post them here. Those posts are now in the depths of LinkedIn, cursed by the algorithm to never see the light of day unless you really go looking for them.

As I got busier, the regularity of my posts diminished significantly. And most of my commentary, ideas, or random threads of thought that I did share with the world are pretty much lost, floating around in the databases of Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube, hidden from view unless you really go searching for them.

Ideas living in a rented space (albeit free, but full of distractions), that don’t have the longevity of a post… on your own turf.

So why start writing again today?

Today marks 10 weeks since I signed the contract to sell Adopt & Embrace to Rapid Circle. Tales from the business sale are worth a few posts another time (“7 lessons learned from selling a business during a Pandemic – you wont believe #6!”)… but the impact of the sale is what I am focused on today.

The cognitive load of running a business has now been lifted, and the pressure of being a ‘solo entrepreneur’ with a family to support at the same time has been released. With a larger team around us as part of the Rapid Circle family, a lot of the things that eventually were left to me, are now being taken care of by people far more competent and capable than I ever was.

And I am thankful that I don’t have to look at a business bank account any more and wonder if we need to put payroll on the credit card (only happened twice, but when you are literally, and figuratively ‘betting your house’ on an idea, the anxiety it creates is very overwhelming).

My identity has been caught up in the machine that is Adopt & Embrace… and that is slowly untangling itself.

This has created a strange feeling. One of personal freedom, but one of being lost at the same time. Over the past few weeks I have really been struggling. The transition from entrepreneur to employee hasn’t necessarily been bad (quite good in fact, the team at Rapid Circle have been incredible)… but there is a hole now in my non-work world that needs to be filled. I didn’t really have time for any hobbies outside of running the business (apart from inconsistent exercise), and it is clear now that I have more time that I really should have at least one, if not more hobbies or projects to keep me occupied

Case in point, I have started to notice that instead of my time being put to productive use (either resting, or contributing something), it has very quickly filled with doom scrolling all of the social platforms for hours per night. Not a healthy habit for the mind. I have read Deep Work by Cal Newport at least 3 times. In fact it sits pride of place on the bookshelf beside me… visible in every video call I am in… yet I am falling into the traps of an ever connected world that distract you from making an impact.

So… getting back into writing here I hope, will help me find that purpose. If all else fails, if it gets me away from trying to get minute by minute updates on the Evergrande crisis on Reddit, or looking at the same posts that were on Instagram 15 minutes ago… it will be a success.

Hopefully though, my rambling thoughts and perspectives on work, technology, life… things I am reading, conversations I am having, experiments I am jumping into etc. are of value to someone out there. Maybe not today, but sometime when they stumble across the content in the future.

Hat tip to Helen Blunden, and Simon Terry… who have both inspired me by their ability to consistently share with the broader community via their own platforms for years. My hope is that this stream of consciousness is half as valuable as the content you have produced over the years.