Saturday, 16 August 2014

The Problem with EdTech Integration: Educators Don't Know How to Sell!

How many products whether good, bad or indifferent have been successfully rolled out across your school or college to the extent that most educators are using them to their full potential?

Every week during EdChats regular participants often comment that this is the best form of PD for them. However... out of all these teachers who are huge fans of EdChats, how many have more than a handful of their colleagues from the same school join in the chat? Why is this? Is it because Educators and admins don't know how to sell? Or more accurately, because they don't understand the sales process?

"No leader can hope to persuade, regularly and single handedly, all the members of the group. A forceful leader can reasonably expect, however, to persuade some sizable portion of group members. Then the raw information that a substantial number of group members has been convinced can, by itself, convince the rest. Thus the most influential leaders are those who know how to arrange group conditions to allow the principle of social proof to work maximally in their favour" Robert Cialdini

Sales Matters in EdTech
I met with a very good Principal friend recently. This was more of a social visit and we ended up talking shop. We had the kind of discussion that can only occur if you have the strongest possible relationship. I have to admit that, as a recovering EdTech Salesman, I took great delight in stating;

"ARE YOU INSANE?! That is entirely the wrong strategy! It won't work... All this will do is create division, possibly  resentment towards you and disrupt the culture that you are trying to establish!"

Please find below a summary of some of the points of this discussion and how the right tech integration strategy and roll out model could improve the school/college culture, level of innovation and adoption of technology... but the wrong process could do nothing more than fragment the culture.

What are you doing with Technology this year?

We're going to be blogging, we've 
all had some training so we're good to go.

How do staff feel about it?

Some are really up for it, others are OK with it... and a few are quite negative about it.

Me: That's natural, the adoption of tech isn't a linear process. The early adopters will get behind it and will encourage others to get involved. That's the way the roll out process works. How are you handling this? What are you doing about it?

Principal: I've told them they've got to do it?

Me: That's insane! You're wrong to do that. 
Working with the entire organisation en masse could do nothing more than fragment the culture. This kind of meeting will frustrate the innovators because of the detractors negativity and, at the same time, will be another reason for any detractors who disagree with your leadership to say "Here we go again another bright idea that won't work"

Compare this with the right roll out plan for technology... It will help to ramp up innovation AND could play a role in improving the culture.

Life Sucks... And You're an Idiot!
Culture: The people who are negative about this will be because they are at stage 2 or 3 in Dave Logan's Tribal Leadership scale and forcing them to do things will make things worse, it will confirm their assessment. People in stage 2 or 3 need to be mentored, coached and encourage to see the value in Stage 4 or 5.

Technology: Alternatively the issue may be a technology one. The people who have concerns may be laggards. 

Combination: Forcing a technology laggard who is also at stage 2-3 on Logan's culture scale to do something they don't see the value in could be quite negative in any tech meetings and seriously disrupt progress and implementation of the product/service... This will add to any feelings of "My life sucks," or maybe even feelings that "You suck, my boss is an idiot"

I discussed the principles of Tribal Leadership and the 5 categories team members fall into;

There are examples where this model has transformed the culture within 9 months. One case study that Logan highlights saw a hospital go from failing to world class... So world class that they now have to charge for tours as it was taking up too much staff time.

EUREKA MOMENT: EdTech Integration
It was during this conversation that I realised two reasons why, after almost 2 years of trying to make a plan work, that they weren't working
  • I had been looking in the wrong sector of education when trying to change the roll out process.
  • Maybe my "Product Market Fit" wasn't with helping EdTech companies with their roll out plans, maybe it was with helping educators to understand the roll out process.
We can test the need for out... Besides Microsoft Office or Google Docs how many products are there that every educator in your school/college uses?

As I've already highlighted with Twitter lots of educators find a lot of value in EdChats but very few appear to work at a school where every educator is on Twitter and participates in EdChats.

Now we all know that there's ineffective EdTech out there, but I'm going to jump over to the EdTech side of the fence and make a bold claim: 

The reason schools/colleges don't have the tech integration that they would like is because
Educators Don't Know How to Sell!

Yep you heard me! If my early discussions with my PLN is anything to go by, the content of this post may prove extremely valuable to educators. If this is the case, I find it quite amusing that the thing that is universally despised in EdTech - sales and sales people - might end up being key to tech integration. The Fox of EdTech is in the chicken coop and is ruffling feathers! Lol

Using Tech Integration to Improve the Culture
Principal: So what should I be doing?

Me: Do you not read my blog? Did you read my EdTech report? Everything I'm about to tell you is in there!

You take the 2 educators who are positive about blogging, and technology in general, and you give them free space to discuss their ideas... this is a very important point. I highlighted the impact this had in Professor Kathryn Kellogg's case study about changing the culture of junior doctors seeing 36+ hour shifts as a badge of honour: See "A Different Operating Procedure"

Culture: This is exactly the same as what Steve Jobs did with creating his "Why join the navy if you can be a pirate" counter-culture when his team was competing with the PC that the Apple Board had backed with Lisa PC Vs Apple2.

Steve Jobs was given his own office in a separate building and a small staff, partly to get him out of the way and to stop him from interfering with the Lisa development team.

Technology: As people saw how much progress (and fun) the pirates were having people slowly, but surely defected...this might be seen as the tech enthusiasts/visionaries influencing the "Early Majority" to "Cross the Chasm" 

Combination: This poaching of staff drove the establishment (The Apple Board) mad, but this counter-culture also helped to energize people who were fed up and disagreed with senior managers leadership and/or who felt the culture wasn't great... Oh and the Apple 2 ended up saving the company as the Lisa PC was a flop.

A great orchestra is not composed of great musicians but of adequate ones who produce at their peak. When a new conductor is hired to turn around an orchestra that has suffered years of drift and neglect, he cannot, as a rule, fire any but a few of the sloppiest or most superannuated players. He also cannot hire many new orchestra members. He has to make productive what he has inherited. The successful conductors do this by working with individual orchestra members and with groups of instrumentalists. The conductors employee relations are a given; the players are nearly unchangeable. So it is the conductors’ people skills that make the difference. Peter Drucker

A Cunning Plan?
Principal: So how do I identify these early adopters?

Me: Well with this particular project you've already got the 2 members of staff who are keen to explore blogging... Start with them... Have them try blogging first and explore the benefits etc for a few months... Give them some time in your office every 1-2 weeks to discuss their ideas... As word gets out and people read the posts and see the positive results and feedback, the next group (The early majority) will start to take an interest, your two bloggers should invite them to the tech meetings

In these meetings the early adopters can discuss anything and everything about tech ideas, you might want to use IBM Founder Tom Watson's format with assessing ideas;

1st Meeting Format: Here's the challenge we're trying to solve... Let's hear your ideas. Nothing gets ridiculed, there may be the kernel of a good idea in the stupidest suggestion. People develop these ideas for the next meeting

2nd Meeting Format: Is a roast, these ideas gets explored from every possible angle to assess what could go wrong and how to fix any potential challenges.

After these meetings you should have a good idea of how to progress with the implementation of the schools tech needs.

What Would Google Do? Control Supply and Demand!
Principal: What, so I ramp up innovation? But my staff says that I'm trying to do too much?

Me: Yes you ramp it up! But you do it in the right way. The reason they're complaining is because you're doing it wrong... Have you read my EdTech report?

Technology: Your early adopters are the only ones who are given the opportunity to test the new idea. They are tech savvy so they will provide the best assessment regarding its value.

Culture: In addition, this strategy does something more than this... It creates optimal distinctiveness (See What's the Difference between the Cinderella of Edu & Stanford). By the way these ideas are not the ideas of some random EdTech sales guy, these are the practices of Google, Apple and Microsoft.

Do you remember when Gmail came out, or Facebook? Remember how you could only get an account if you were a member of a club (Gmail: Google tech fan; Facebook: Ivy League uni).

Do you remember how this made those with accounts feel special about being in the "in crowd" but, at the same time, drove up demand for those who couldn't get into their club? This core group of tech proficient people helped refine the early product before the it was rolled out... but was rolled out in an extremely controlled manner (Facebook: People with an Ivy League Unis, only people with a email address; Early Gmail users got 20 invites for friends)

Combination:This strategy did one of two things;

1) It established "Network Effects" and a cycle of "Positive Feedback Loops" 

2) It also helped these products "Cross the chasm" into the early majority market... This is the toughest thing to do with any product, but was taken care of very effectively by the major companies.

How easy is it to open a Gmail account or Facebook account today compared with this early roll out period? Why was this? Because Tech adoption is not easy! It needs to be sold. Facebook and Google didn't use sales reps to sell it... they mobilized their users base for the most Effective Roll out

Effective School Roll Out
With a plan like this you can have your tech group explore as many ideas as you like in a 3-6 month period. This group is proficient with tech and are motivated enough to explore all the possibilities.

Technology: After their assessment they can "invite" the next group in to test the idea further.This will be the group that ask questions and instigate a discussion about it in the staff room "Hey I saw your post that was really good" and generally start to take an interest.

As this is rolled out and is approaching the late majority and laggards, the people who might have said "I don't get why we should be doing this," "That's not the way we do things around here," or "That's not in my contract" They start to feel that they are missing out on the party and begin to show intrigue and eventually ask "Can I try it"

You've crossed the chasm, you'll still have a tough demographic to engage, the laggards, but that will come as and when - and only when - the case studies that demonstrate value builds up. This takes time

Culture: Dave Logan advocates that progressing people from stage's 2/3 to 4/5 requires mentoring, this roll out process could do this. The culture and ability to adapt to new tech ideas could be transformed.

This process may or may not take as much time as all staff being in the same room together and being told, "we're all going to be blogging, you've had the training now just get on with it and stop your belly aching!"

Sales Matters in EdTech
I produced a series of blog posts called "Sales Matters in EdTech" where I highlighted that it was wrong to consider sales and sales people separately from the rest of the EdTech ecosystem. I never thought that it just might turn out to one of the most central themes! 

Not the sales of cold calling with bad EdTech, the sales process of Apple, Google and Microsoft et al. These guys control the pace of roll out until they have achieved "Product Market Fit" they innovate with the tech enthusiasts and their fans until the product is good enough to ship to the next group. 

If you are still not convinced of this approach I'll leave you to compare what Apple has achieved since 1997 Vs what our politicians and policy makers have achieved with the roll out of technology in Education.

Leaving FE
This is why I am now only working with a small group of people in FE... Not because I'm being difficult, but because it would be a waste of my time and others to do otherwise.

I've spent the last 2 years working on the right ideas but was focusing on the wrong audience. I wanted to work with innovative EdTech companies to help roll out good ideas into FE. I now realise I should have been focusing on working with the innovators in FE to roll out the practices of companies... had it the wrong way round.

FELTAG has been focusing on technology. As I've argued in this post and my previous one, I believe that people should be focusing on the roll out process... In doing so they just might be able to fix the technology, level of innovation and the culture. 

The primary challenge here is not technical, but cultural. Geoffery Moore, Crossing the Chasm

BillAuletCulture2Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast, Technology for Lunch and Everything Else for Dinner
Peter Drucker and Bill Aulet

Until I came to IBM, I probably would have told you that culture was just one among several important elements in any organisation's makeup and success - along with vision, strategy, marketing, financials and the like... I came to see, in my time at IBM, that culture isn't just one aspect of the game, it is the game. Lou Gerstner

No comments:

Post a Comment