crop unrecognizable person in rubber gloves raising arms

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.

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