Why did it take so long for some organisations to welcome technology into their operations, and are they slipping quickly back into old habits?
2003 - Skype
2011 - Zoom
2015 - Google Hangouts (Now Meet)
2017 - Microsoft Teams
(*Many more available but the most talked about at the moment)
Video conferencing technology is hardly a new phenomenon, so why have they not been as popular before COVID-19 struck? Why had the masses balked at video conferences for over 50 years? Why did it take a pandemic to shift organisational culture? Surely it shouldn’t require such a magnitude of force.
Even now, there are a lot of organisations struggling to adapt to virtual meetings, seminars and conferences. Are these perhaps the very same organisations who were reticent to adopt technology in the first place?
So how can we help them overcome these challenges?
Technology, we suggest, is perhaps not the root cause but the catalyst that has highlighted pre-existing conditions. The reliance on virtual communications has put interpersonal and communication skills firmly under the microscope.
Take for example an organisation whose staff are currently struggling with personal presence, ability to interact and engage others and ability to 'read the room' during their online interactions. Now rather than requesting external counsel for the symptoms that they can see, I would be more interested in finding the root cause of their current discomfort.
You see, within complex systems such as organisations, what you perceive to be the “problem” may not always be the cause, merely a symptom, a result of something else. Rather than treat all of the symptoms, if you remove the cause then there is no need to worry about the symptoms. A far more efficient way of improving problematic situations.
Back to the staff of the organisation we mentioned. What if they were poor communicators beforehand and the only reason it is becoming apparent now is that there is more emphasis on certain communication skills virtually?
Some options to consider:
Stop communicating virtually
Remove the poor communicators
Provide development opportunities for those in need
Carry on regardless
All options are viable and without a thorough understanding and inquiry, we are not really in a position to suggest which is the better course of action. What we are sure of is that we need to conduct really good inquiries. Inquiries that inform us of the situation, ones that help define root causes, ones that if done well, offer an excellent opportunity to improve the situation.
How can we ensure that we conduct such inquiries?
Be open minded.
Ask better questions.