I was listening to the BBC today and they had a story about how the implementation of a new system for the NHS wasn’t going that well.
And the reason? According the Guardians articicle NHS risks £20bn white elephant, say auditors they haven’t involved the users enough in developing it.According to Sir John Bourn it “"has not won the hearts and minds of those who are being required to use it" and there was a "failure to take the people in the NHS with the system"
I don’t think this problem is unique to this NHS – I’ve seen lots of systems that have been pushed onto users without involving them or educating them and it almost always has the same result – the user kicks back and the system fails.
The sad thing is that a lot of the time the system is being implemented with the best of intentions – It may be that the system isn’t that even bad. It’s just the users don’t feel comfortable with it.
A lot of people will resist change when they don’t feel involved and will obstruct rather than assist.
That’s why when we talk about change management we shouldn’t just think about the impact it has on existing IT systems – we should also consider the impact it’s going to have on the users. If we don’t, there’s a danger we’ll end up getting burnt.
Proactive market development.
Starting with polls, then focus groups, and now the BRILLIANT play by Microsoft of mass Beta deployment. When customers/end users/decision makers are invited to help create the product, they generate their own excitement. Seeing feedback become feature, release by release, is such a radical departure from any "normal" software development effort that the market (and the developer!) is first shocked, then awed, and then develops loyalty to a product that they helped design. Cheers to the leadership and development team that had the cheek to stand software engineering on its head.
Truly, a textbook case study for the next century. Hopefully, I will not be alone in capitalizing on the brilliant and daring thinking of a group of people called Microsoft.