The great thing about out of the box thinking is the lack of rules. There is no right or wrong answer when taking this path, and if you’re not challenging the status quo, you’ll never know if there’s a better way. Sometimes, different is better and sometimes it’s just different.
To get good results with out of the box thinking, you really have to address root causes. This has just as much to do with asking the right questions as with asking the questions in the right way. With UC, there is generally a large knowledge gap between the providers and the end users. Vendors, channels and IT leaders know all about UC, but often not enough about what really matters to end users.
As I have often said, UC is a fluid concept, and this is both its greatest strength and weakness. Compared to other communications applications – VoIP, video, email, fax, etc. – UC may seem abstract to end users, since it’s really the integration of everything else they’re using on a daily basis. In a sense, however, they know UC when they see it – namely effective collaboration – and they just didn’t know that everyone else has a name for it.
This is why I’ve been writing here lately about out of the box ideas. So far, conventional thinking has not produced great take-up results with UC, and I believe this is largely due to the aforementioned gap. UC providers tend to take a technology-centric view when going to market, but if the ultimate end users don’t understand it – or find it intuitive enough to embrace – there’s a big series of dots not being connected.
In that scenario, UC providers are not making the right assumptions about end user behavior, and nothing is going to change unless a different approach is used. UC is different from most communications technologies that have come before it, and UC providers haven’t recognized that and adapted sufficiently. Every situation is different, and my recent posts have provided a range of unconventional approaches you could take to make UC more end-user centric.
How about doing nothing?
Business decisions generally involve some form of action for moving things forward. To create demand, you have to advertise. To open a new office, you need to acquire a location. Once you hire new employees, you have to train them. I’ve outlined several go-forward paths you can take with UC, both conventional and unconventional. Sometimes you have to try more than one approach, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Conventional thinking says to get big results you need a big effort. If management has mandated a fast track for UC, IT may be obliged follow that path. For all kinds of reasons, this is just as likely to succeed as to fail, especially for something as amorphous as UC.
Other situations, however, will be more forgiving, where management recognizes that UC is a work in progress. For all kinds of other reasons, this path has a greater chance of success, and if that’s closer to your reality, I have another out of the box approach for you to consider.
Instead of doing something, how about doing nothing? I’m not saying this because we’ve exhausted all ideas and have conceded defeat for something that nobody understands or is too complicated. Or that we simply don’t know what to, and have given in to inertia, hoping the problem will just go away.
Doing nothing can actually be a very proactive stance and could be more effective than you think. No doubt this can be risky and requires a leap of faith, but maybe not. This really depends on how well you know and trust your employees. IT is in the best position to know their level of tech savvy, especially for adopting new technologies.
To follow through on this idea, you have to make sure this itself will not be the root cause of future problems. In other words, old-school IT thinking is still common, and that mode can quickly lose touch with what the younger generation is both willing and able to do with technology. If you impose legacy expectations on Millennials, UC will fail, no matter how clever your deployment strategy.
I’m adding this wrinkle because IT can only trust employees to the extent they truly understand them. A few years down the road we won’t be having this conversation, as Millennials will eventually permeate all layers of your organization. Today, however, there could be a real knowledge gap – and perception gap between IT and end users – and that’s a true root cause that could derail your UC plans.
This post may seem like a Seinfeld episode where I’m talking a lot about doing nothing, and in fact I’ve said practically nothing to explain myself. I have, however, kept your attention to this point, and that’s something. Now I want to you to think about what I mean by doing nothing – and trusting your employees – and in my next post I’ll explain why this approach just might work.