When a finance team starts to explore technology, they often have to look into the way they currently do things and how that might change. This can be very confronting especially when they realise, or when it is put out in the open for all to see, that the way they were working was flawed or highly error-prone. This is very important to address as this feeling of being "wrong" can limit the ultimate success and change that the technology is intended to produce.
Most individuals who are faced with this reality don’t want to feel that way, this is a very understandable and human reaction. As a result, they will resist change, even if the said change would ultimately make their problems go away. They would rather just hide the fact that it was being done wrong and continue as if nothing happened.
One such example is the way people manage data in Excel spreadsheets. Despite the existence of tools, principles and approaches to managing data in Excel better, teams continue to feel trapped in old habits. These smart technologies tend to expose underlying issues with data management in Excel and the users often feel uneasy about being "wrong" or the fact that nobody has shown them the "right way" and that "it's always been the way things were done".
This can be difficult to deal with as a leader or someone trying to take their team on a journey.
A first step that can be looked into is managing the perception of change and what those smart tools are supposed to do:
- Analyse if issues actually exist: team members might not even know they exist and that’s fair enough if they were never looked into
- Help achieving better processes and results if needed: which doesn’t mean anyone is to blame for being “wrong”
- And most probably create more value and free up time for other essential tasks
Let’s think about this out of the finance context and take the example of a surgeon. They might have conducted a procedure a certain way, and were right in doing so, for many years. Yet, a new piece of equipment comes in, gives better imagery and they realize that there is a more efficient and less obtrusive way to proceed. This doesn’t make them a bad surgeon; they didn’t even know there could be a better way. It simply means that the way they have done things so far reached its limit and technology enables them to surpass it. They are still conducting the operation with a better way to diagnose the problem and solve it.
Erik Angner defines epistemic humility as “the realization that our knowledge is always provisional and incomplete—and that it might require revision in light of new evidence.”
This shade a completely new light on smart finance technologies. They are an enhancement that will firstly detect if improvements are required and if so, pointing exactly where the issues are. Awareness of a problem is the first step to dealing with the solution.
Once the issue has been broadly accepted and there is a willingness (along with the right support) to resolve those problems then the success of that change is greatly increased.
There are many pieces to consider for technology adoption to work and we are always happy to help organisations figuring it all out from diagnostic to implementation plan.
You can find some case studies here and we’re always happy to have a quick chat and answer your questions, message us at [email protected]