Changing people’s minds has both an intellectual and an emotional aspect. Intellectually speaking, it is of course important to present people with facts, figures and data to encourage them to commit to a transformative project. On an emotional level however, when it comes to implementing cultural change, your own passion can play an enormous role. If you want to drive change in your organization, you need to show that you are passionate about it – and that others should be passionate about it, too. The infectious nature of passion, along with the fact that culture starts at the top, means that leading by example is a crucial aspect of any change-driving mission.
What does this mean for implementing technological change? It means a couple of things. First of all, it means that IT needs a seat at an executive level. Not just because that puts them in a position to instigate the sort of mindset transformation that trickles down, but also because everybody needs to buy into a technological decision. While traditionally a decision might be made in an IT department and fed to the wider organization to figure out for themselves, rapid and robust technological change demands immediate buy-in across the association, and for every department to feel like they are part of the change themselves. The skills required to get this executive seat include the ability to prove, through your behavior and passion, how your ideas for change include and impact the organization as a whole.
Second, passion means changing your focus. Rather than initially focusing on the nuts and bolts of how things get done, passion can direct us towards the bigger picture: the actual business deliverable that we need to achieve. The journey to get there is important, of course, but we need to start off committed to the destination. I even have a swear jar in our meetings about changes to our website and AMS, and anybody who makes a comment about having to do something a certain way, sacrifices a dollar to the jar. People need to start thinking about what has to happen, before concerning themselves with how – because as the mindset changes, and as the passion sets in, new possibilities for the ‘how’ will also emerge.
It also means not losing sight of your vision. When it comes to technology, there will always be something to fix, some sort of hole to fill in, or some sort of problem to address. Of course we have to attend to the issues that emerge, real time, but we should not think that just because there are occasional glitches in a system, that we cannot start working on larger cultural change. It’s absolutely possible to embark upon changing your technological culture without having to wait for your systems and processes to be in the smoothest, most sophisticated state before you start.
Passion is contagious. Being passionate about technological change does not mean being blind to concerns: in fact, it means approaching an idea with such an openness and vigor that you can address concerns head-on. Ultimately, you cannot bring about change without showing your own ability to change: so live it, breathe it, and lead it by example.
Mark spoke in the “A Practical Discussion on Driving Rapid Technological Change” session during SURGE Spring, an interactive virtual summit hosted by AssociationSuccess.org on May 2nd-4th. Click here to watch the sessions on demand.