Why logic doesn't apply when rolling out new tech

Jun 22 2016 by Wayne Turmel Print This Article

So youíve identified a problem in your company that can be solved with technology. Youíve found the technology that will do the job. Youíve even paid for it. Youíd think from here itís a simple matter of getting people to use it. A little training and weíre good to go. Good luck with that.

As anyone who has ever done a tech rollout will tell you, choosing and purchasing the software (or the machines) is the easy part. Nearly all the overages, costs and failures are during the implementation stage. In other words, everything is fine as long as actual human users arenít involved.

The truly frustrating thing is that no matter how talented and intelligent those people are, there are still unexpected challenges in getting people to use them. The most frustrating one for many is the complete failure of logic to persuade these folks to get with the program.

Hereís an example. I was doing some training with a group of very smart professionals about virtual meetings, and the subject of webcams came up. Now, I always use a webcam for these classes, and I asked what value people saw in them.

The responses were pretty much as I had expected:

  • It helps to put a face to a name
  • Itís more interesting and engaging than staring at a telephone or a blank screen
  • It made the training less formal and more relaxing
  • It adds value, and itís surprisingly easy to accomplish

So then I asked the question that brought the room to a halt. ďSo, would it be a good idea to use video with your remote employees, teammates and customers?Ē

These smart, competent, driven people lost their collective minds. Some of the responses:

  • They only want us to use webcams so they can spy on us and make sure weíre working
  • Thereís no way Iíd use a webcam when Iím teleworking
  • The picture quality makes me look bad (true, and very often irrelevant, but thatís the logical side of me talking)
  • Itís too complicated (Not for anyone whoís ever used a cell phone or managed to cook a meal without hurting themselves - the motor skills required are minimal at best)
  • I donít have the equipment (patently false, in this case)
  • My people would never go for it (and I have absolutely no intention of asking them).

So what gives? These folks admit there are significant advantages to using a tool, they possess the necessary equipment, and itís even a highly suggested (although not mandatory) best practice. The reasons everyone gave could be overcome with logic and patience. Except none of the real objections had anything to do with logic. They readily accepted the logic of the decision, even though they have no plans to implement it.

For many people the powers of habit (this is the way weíve always done it), priority (I have better things to do than learn a new software when the old one gets the job done) and social conditioning (the way I look matters, and I hate the way I look on camera) combine to overpower the financial and logical arguments too many organizations rely on to get compliance.

What are the emotional and psychological barriers to using a certain tool? If you donít know, youíre not ready to roll it out because you havenít asked the right people. We might be surprised by the answers. For example, you can overcome the ďI look terrible on cameraĒ argument by managers promising not to expect on-camera conversation without proper warning. Workers who donít want to get caught un-showered in their AC/DC t-shirt and bunny slippers wonít be exposed and will be camera-ready, even if theyíre still uncomfortable about the process.

Logic is an important part of decision making. But itís also highly over-valued when it comes to convincing people to do anything.

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About The Author

Wayne Turmel
Wayne Turmel

For almost 30 years, Wayne Turmel has been obsessed with how people communicate - or don't - at work. He has spent the last 20 years focused on remote and virtual work, recognized as one of the top 40 Remote Work Experts in the world. Besides writing for Management Issues, he has authored or co-authored 15 books, including The Long-Distance Leader and The Long-Distance Teammate. He is the lead Remote and Hybrid Work subject matter expert for the The Kevin Eikenberry Group. Originally from Canada, he now makes his home in Las Vegas, US.