IT tools are often introduced into an organization with little to no use by its members. I’ve been doing research as to why and recently read Connie Gersick’s work on the idea of change manifested through Punctuated Equilibrium Paradigm*. I think this paradigm can help one identify opportunities for transformational tech to be accepted.
Connie Gersick writes about a type of change that can happen to an organization where its deep structure is changed. It is not the sort of incremental, linear, change an organization might plan on. It happens suddenly, after a period of homeostasis where the current system structure has been in operation, and even gradually improving. Punctuating this equilibrium is the change of the organization’s structure pulling itself apart, or the resources that sustained the structure becoming unavailable.
This is when the typical inertia against change (the organization doesn’t see alternatives, fears such as loss/failures/power, and others entities supporting the status quo) is lessened. During the turmoil surrounding this breakdown, other ways of doing things can be considered options.
I think this may be the area where the introduction of new, transformative, technologies can be introduced and Connie Gersick’s work may help understand and identify those opportunities.
An interesting note is that Punctuated Equalibrium helps explain why some organizations, when trying to overcome an obstacle, will continue to try the same process. The process itself has to break down before a different solution is tried.
If my process is a wind-up car toy and my organization climbs in and winds it up, we may go far until we hit a wall. When we do, we’ll keep hitting the wall until either the car is unwound or it breaks.
(I’m currently halfway through “Crossing the Chasm” by Geoffrey Moore and see how some of that works well with the Equilibrium Paradigm. More on both these thing, later.)
* Gersick, C “Revolutionary Change Theories: A Multilevel Expolration of the Punctuated Equalibirum Paradigm.” Academy of Management Review 1991 Vol 16 No 1, 10-36