8 October 2017 - What's SAMR'all about

If you've been with me on these blogs over the past few weeks you'll be getting a hint that things may not be so perfect in my work life. Its been an intense few years with my current company trying to move them into a digital world. The latest delivery of functionality really brought this home to me. 

We've been on a long journey to move into a modern world so we can tackle market conditions and respond well. As a business that is at the mercy of Government policy changes when it comes to all things education we have to be responsive, stay ahead of our competition and be mindful of our customers' constraints. As a business we can no longer rest on our laurels. We must be proactive.

And so part of that proactivity has been to look at the systems and make changes. I work in application change and develop systems so that they can help businesses.
It sit in the human side of things. I figure out the why and help to construct the solution. What some businesses fail to realise is that they have to get involved in this process too. 

There is no point building something based on captured requirements if, after go live, your stakeholders have no intention on making their human changes to adopt it.  There is often blame put on the system. The basic fact is, technology is used as a pawn to make a change. 

Stuff has been written about this called SAMR (by Kathy Schrock) and is referenced in particular for teaching but actually I feel its relevant in any human vs technology interaction. There are also plenty of diagrams on it but I quite like this one. Let me explain.

Substitution - Tech acts as a direct tool replacement, with no functional change
Augmentation - Tech acts as a direct tool replacement, with functional improvement
Modification - Tech allows for significant task redesign
Redefinition - Tech allows for creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable

What I like about this chart is that it overlays an emotional element too. I believe that my company recently hit the trough of disillusionment. I think earlier in the year they had real inflated expectations perceiving that all these new systems would somehow magically cure everything. It didn't. They are now entering into the slope of enlightenment as they are now asking about the systems that have been built and how the humans are using them. They are finally curious. They want to know what is working and conflicts remain. They are prepared to listen and make adjustments. The tech is there, ready to transport then into this new world, waiting to be engaged.

Realistically, you shouldn't use new system development to ignite change. Its a mindset that needs to shift first. Its a belief and agreement from top, all the way down on how something should be done. Tracking a change in behaviour can initially be captured on a spreadsheet before committing valued time and resource to something more concrete. 

And I think this is where many projects fall over. Stakeholders use the excuse of systems when really they should look to the human first and ask basic questions.
Who is our customer?
What are we currently doing?
What do we need to do to make this better?
How do we make this change?

And stakeholders should also remember too; the decisions made should be joint and committed. Then you can begin your voyage of transition with technology.  It then has a chance of being a success and making the difference you crave. 


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