Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Breaking up is hard to do. Those are not my words.  They were said, or sang by a much more talented guy named Neal Sedaka.  He sang those lyrics back in 1976, but they are still true today.  Breaking up is hard to do.  You can watch a performance of the song here.  (Watching this video could result in physical distress for viewers born after the year 1970.)  Staying in a relationship is easier than breaking up even if staying is unhealthy.  One of the main reasons people stay in broken relationships is that however unpleasant and unhealthy the situation is, change can be even more difficult.   Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Samantha Rodman wrote the following in a recent blog post for a website called TalkSpace:

“A common example of fear of change is when a person stays in an unfulfilling romantic relationship because they are terrified of being single, or of the effort and risk involved in trying to find a different partner. People often coast along in unfulfilling relationships, even marrying a person about whom they feel ambivalent, just because they are so scared at the prospect of breaking up.”

Change is hard to do.  Change is at the heart of what is hard about breaking up for many people.  Change is especially tough when you are in love with Microsoft Office.

I get it.  I’ve been there.  I created an Access Database of my music collection back in college.  I gave my heart and the better part of a year to that thing only to finally realize it just wasn’t right for me.  I could tell you story after story about PowerPoint presentations that I found myself watching in presenter’s mode over and over.  Sometimes even returning to the meeting rooms where PowerPoint and I spent time and standing at the podiums where we presented.  I can even remember when I caught my best friend installing the Analysis Toolpak in my budget spreadsheet in Excel.  You don’t want to get me started on the Las Vegas Lights text effect in Word.  I’m not going to get into the details on that one – they are right when they say what’s formatted in Las Vegas Lights stays in Las Vegas Lights.

There is hope for people like us.  I can tell you from experience.  If you are thinking of ending your current relationship with Microsoft Office to implement a new software tool for Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery, just follow these tips:

  • Embrace the change. Remember why you started looking for the new software tool in the first place.  There must be a reason you started evaluating new products.  There are probably dozens of them.  Word and Excel offer freedom in terms of formatting and styles, but they lack the robust capabilities that software tools designed for BC and DR provide.  Many organizations create detailed evaluation documents to ensure the products they are evaluating offer capabilities considered vital to the program; then they forget those capabilities and insist the new tool be customized to provide an experience and output exactly like Word or Excel.  Stay true to the original requirements and focus on the functionality gains you targeted in your software search.
  • Focus on the big picture. The new software should help you drive the program to success.  Success in terms of a BC/DR program is about organizational resilience improvement.  It’s not about reproducing a Microsoft Office user experience.  BC/DR tools are not designed to act or look like Office, so expecting them to will require complex customization and taxing administrative overhead. In the end you will still be frustrated because nothing looks or acts like Word and Excel except World and Excel.  We can’t ask a fish to ride a bike and be upset when it can’t.  BC/DR software is designed for program goals.  Define success at the program level and then select and implement the tool in a way that enables the functionalities to help you get there.
  • Preach to the choir. Gain momentum by selecting the most enthusiastic, most change-receptive units in your organization to be early adopters. Develop a momentum around the program using the new software as the catalyst.  Stress the value of the software in meeting organizational goals.  Reduce the stress of the change by marketing the advent of something new.  If the focus of the effort is less about replacing something that is comfortable, than it is about the curiosity and novelty of something new, exciting, and easy to use; the stress of the change can be replaced by the anticipation of a new experience.
  • Keep it simple. If I had a nickel for every implementation that started with the project sponsor stating how they would like to keep things simple and out-of-the box, only to then detail dozens of absolutely critical customizations, I would not have to write entertaining and informative blog posts like this for money.  To tell you the truth, I wonder if some clients remember anything about the software they selected when the implementation starts.  Some seem surprised to learn that in addition to not making coffee or starting your car remotely, the software can’t relay thoughts automagically into plan content.  Today’s software is advanced, but trying to get it to do every single thing the program requires will create unnatural interfaces and undue burdens on end users and administrators.  Let the software do what is was designed to do, and understand that no software replaces all human participation especially during a crisis.
  • Don’t limit the opportunity a software implementation provides. This is perhaps the most disappointing mistake organizations make when implementing new software.  The implementation marks an opportunity to review all of the program practices.  This is an unusual and valuable opportunity.  If the effort is confined to the software, your organization is passing on the chance to improve its performance across the board.  This doesn’t mean bending practices to meet software capabilities.  If you selected the right tool, it should mean configuring the tool to support improved workflows and practices that enhance all aspects of the BC/DR program.  Don’t install a new software to continue stale inefficient practices.  Use the change as an impetus to streamline all that you do.  The implementation may mean the chance for program evaluation by expert consultants.  It means the chance to have experienced consultants with unbiased viewpoints evaluate the program and organizational practices.  Allow them the opportunity to review all program activities with an eye toward recommending improvements.  Be receptive of the recommendations, rather than resentful of the feedback.  Feedback can be a valuable tool for progress.
  • Build change into the normal activities of the program. Change doesn’t need to be a source of apprehension and stress.  If change is adopted as a normal part of the program life cycle, the dread it can often inspire will be limited.  Schedule program reviews annually to examine all activities and identify opportunities to improve.  Welcome suggestions from those working to support the program and the stakeholders who are supported by it.  The implementation can be just the first in a regular pattern of program review that includes the survey and analysis of feedback by multiple parties, the assignment of action items targeted at improvements, and the update of online and off-line workflows.

So, there is good news for those of us struggling to end an unhealthy relationship with MS Office.  It doesn’t have be hard to do; it doesn’t have to mean tears or heartbreak; it doesn’t need to mean binging on Haagen Dazs ice cream and romantic comedies; and, best of all, I don’t have to stand in the rain in front of Microsoft’s home office blasting Peter Gabriel songs…again.  What it could mean is the start of something big for your program.  Plus, it really is possible to stay friends with Office.  (I really wish I could format that last line in Las Vegas Lights font.)

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