Reducing Resistance To AR Adoption: Four Ideas For Change Management

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Thomas Cottereau CEO

This article originally appeared in Field Technologies Online

The late computer scientist Grace Hopper once said the English language’s most dangerous phrase is, “We’ve always done it this way.” Yet whatever the risks of standing still, deep and almost visceral negative feelings tend to accompany major change.

While it can be a challenge to introduce disruptive technologies into your service organization, a few key steps can smooth the process. It is essential to take time to build an augmented reality (AR) project that will bring more value to your organization, backed by specific goals, realistic predicted outcomes and reasonable timeframes for achievement. With this framework in place, it then becomes time to strategize on how to “sell” the project to your people.

Human nature is to fear the unknown, and what we fear, we resist. Employees need to understand how digitization will benefit them as they carry out their daily jobs. Communicating the positives and overcoming psychological and behavioral barriers to efficient implementation means using a change management model, a framework of methods to foster change around internal processes. Change management includes how to prepare and support your employees, as well as how to define and monitor all the necessary steps to successfully execute organizational shifts.

In the 1940s, the renowned psychologist Kurt Lewin developed one of the most widely used change management models, which closely guides the recommendations given in this piece. He identified the three key stages of change as “unfreezing,” “movement” and “refreezing.”[1] The first softens existing habits and modes of operation, the second activates change, and the third sets new, reformed modes into place.

Consider that by introducing a total game-changing technology like remote visual assistance, you’re asking people to redefine the work they’ve been doing for years. To be successful, companies must execute a structured and repeatable process that will help their employees engage, adopt and change their day-to-day work and habits.

Here are four ideas, influenced by change management theory but adapted for the unique needs of digital transformation, that can help get you there.

Lay the Ground by Identifying Leaders and Champions

This is an essential step before starting the “unfreezing” phase. Successful change management programs have visible leaders and champions who can be approached with questions and ideas, as well as for support. These leaders regularly communicate with teams and help motivate them. Identify which teams and individuals can help lead the charge to integrate visual assistance into their daily processes. Adopt different strategies for different roles and personality types within your teams.

Although the benefits of visual support to the company might be clear, be sure to communicate how it will help the employees using it every day. Using relatable examples when introducing new processes helps users clearly understand the benefits and will increase adoption.

Examples might be that visual assistance will help them reach their goals or targets more quickly or reduce repetitive tasks. Creating internal materials like a video demonstrating the software and explaining how it reduces common pain points can introduce it as a helpful resource.

Unfreeze Behaviors Through Excitement and Motivation

Generating excitement with rewards, recognition and good-natured competition work best when paired with clear expectations of what the new process is and how to use it. Providing additional coaching by pairing more resistant teams with established champions helps set the stage for success.

Another approach to motivation during change management is rewarding employees for using the new processes and tools. This could be through gamification, such as establishing a leader board or setting challenges, or by adding incentives like gift cards or lunch to individuals or teams that meet their adoption goals.

While these methods can be successful, rewards like these often lack the context around the expectations for using new technology. Where and when should people use it to get the rewards and what are the bigger benefits beyond a place on the leader board?

Sometimes companies might motivate adoption of a new technology such as visual assistance by setting and enforcing clear expectations and targets. This might mean ensuring compliance by adding to an individual or team’s formal objectives and evaluations. At its most extreme, bonuses or promotions can be withheld. This kind of motivation is extremely unsuccessful and can lead to stronger resistance and undermine the entire change management process.

Change By Connecting the Project to Existing Business Processes

A business process is a collection of linked tasks that find their end in the delivery of a service or product to a client. Redefining this to include visual assistance is key to increasing the “stickiness” of the new tool. Counterintuitive as it may seem, connecting your digitization to processes that already exist is essential to produce lasting change.

To successfully integrate visual assistance, you should first ensure that the technology can embed directly within the CRM or FSM that employees are already using. There’s nothing more frustrating than introducing a new tool that requires a separate interface or manual entry of information in two different places.

The second is mapping visual assistance to existing business processes. Companies that successfully deploy visual assistance take the time to identify where it will fit within existing processes. Identify common problems that can be solved without a truck roll, for instance. Create specific documentation on how and when to initiate a visual support session.

Once you’ve implemented these, the next steps in the change management process outline best practices on how to motivate and train your teams and measure your success.

Refreeze By Prioritizing Dynamic Training

Research shows it can take two months to change a habit. When users are confident about their ability to use a tool, it becomes part of their “daily DNA.” How you train them is directly correlated to how successful your rollout will be, and the permanence of the change you’re looking for.

Instead of providing a demo alone, you can “train the trainer” to make the path to adoption and enablement quick and easy. Even the greatest training sessions will be improved by letting participants know what to expect and why they are there.

Provide a few short clips and information for your teams to review before training to establish content. When they arrive for training, they should know why the organization has invested in visual support and what the training is beforehand. Allow time during and after training sessions to let users practice with friends, family or colleagues. And make sure everyone knows who to go to with questions and support after training.

Measuring the Success of Implementation

Throughout your rollout process, you’ll want to measure the adoption and progress of your implementation, as well as your business value and return on investment (ROI). These are two distinct but equally important indicators of a successful implementation.

Internally, you should measure your efforts by looking at how many and how often employees are using visual assistance, in addition to what percentage of addressable calls are being handled with visual assistance. In other words, out of all the problems you could be solving with visual assistance, how many are resolved with the new tools and processes? It is key to establish a good monthly average user metric to aim for and measure it over time.

Measuring the ROI and cost savings for the organization at large is extremely important to establish the true business and financial value of visual assistance. Establish your metrics early on and be sure they take into consideration any additional costs visual assistance might impact. If the goal is reduced truck rolls, for example, don’t forget to factor in savings on parts wastage and service vehicle maintenance and repairs.

One of the most powerful tools you have in calculating and promoting the value of visual assistance is to talk directly to your end-users. When someone has a big success or a great story, make it visible both internally to reinforce your efforts and externally to market your solutions to new and existing clients.

Strategic approaches to introducing innovative technology like visual assistance can ensure a smooth rollout and a fast return on your investment. And by adopting established change management strategies, you can empower your employees to leverage the technology quickly and successfully.

[1] S.T. Hussain, S. Lei, T. Akram et al, “Kurt Lewin’s change model: A critical review of the role of leadership and employee involvement in organizational change”, Journal of Innovation and Knowledge 3, no. 3 (2018), pp. 123-27.

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