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Entering a New ERA

Where behavior and technology collide

I’ve been teaching seminars through universities for many years, and I often ask the following question: which is more difficult when implementing change, the technical challenge or the behavioral challenge? People choose “behavioral” well over 90% of the time, and I tend to agree. Acquiring new technology is exciting, but often it remains un-utilized or at least underutilized because people do not adapt. They continue to do what worked in the past… or worse, they continue to do what they’ve always done whether it worked in the past or not.

Flash forward to 2020: COVID-19 has changed the business environment in many ways, not the least of which is that it has forced companies to adopt new processes and technology at a faster pace. For example, think about Zoom-type remote meeting technologies. They have been around since long before January, but all of a sudden there was widescale adaptation because there was no other choice. This truly is a new era. Many people talk about the “new normal” as if it’s temporary, but in many cases there will be no going back. Many processes of yore will need to be mothballed forever.

At Orion we have developed an improvement process to usher in the new era… and we make it easy to remember by using the acronym ERA. The steps are shown below, with a key question to be asked and answered each step of the way.

  1. Eliminate – “Should we be executing this process at all?”
  2. Redesign – “Is the process operating at an acceptable level of performance?”
  3. Automate – “Does technology exist that would enhance the performance level?”

This is a sequential process. We recommend cutting the dead weight first. The Eliminate step is all about clarifying future direction and targeting useless processes for termination.  The Redesign step takes the processes that need to be part of the future vision and retools them to meet emerging needs.

Bill GatesThese two steps can put a company in perfect position to Automate. As Bill Gates once said:

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”

Companies that will be ultimately successful in the long term need to recognize that it’s a new ERA.

Ralph Smith

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