Wednesday, January 24, 2007

New at Blogging

Thinking "outloud" by writing has been my therapy for about 3 years now. However, almost all of my past writings are in a private journal. I have shared only one topic with others. All the other writings have been produced for my own edification. Actually, I seldom read my past writings. The process of writing is what I find to be a great outlet for my emotions.

Kevin told a few of us at dinner after a meeting one day, "You should blog." Three of us had our excuses for not blogging. The most stated excuse was "I do not have anything to say." Kevin's response is "...everyone has something to say." Truthfully, though I did not state it at dinner, my excuse for not blogging earlier is the fear that my writings might be imperfect and subjected to criticisms. Another fear is that I might offend someone.

Putting those fears behind, I have decided to blog. So what I am going to write about? My experiences and my thoughts about conflict, particularly as it has to do with conflicting viewpoints on trying, adopting and using new technologies, techniques and business practices.

Why people behave the way that they do has always intrigued me. Why some people accept new ideas and new technologies and others who are presented with the "same" benefits reject these new ideas and technologies intrigued me as well. In fact, I studied this research question in the narrow domain of geographical information systems inthe farming industry. I or nor anyone else will answer this "why" question completely. The question "how to influence the adoption of ideas" is even more stimulating. As I work in the technology area, I often struggle with how to present the benefits and create influencing techniques when describing new technologies. What seems to work for me is to begin by understanding the user. This understanding and empathy process is what makes me me. In other words, being able to see others' viewpoint is one of my strong characteristics. Why is seeing the other viewpoint is important? Stephen Covey addresses this in his seven habits book. Many think we can present all the wonderful benefits to a new technology or practice, the people in our organizations should just believe us and ride along with of us. We all know that the decision process is much more complicated than that. The benefits alone will not convince others to adopt a new practice or idea. Individuals look at how adoption or even trying something new affects them immediately and later. Individuals look at what adopting (or trying) something will cost them. James Prochaska and colleagues call this the weighing of the advantages and disadvantages of changing behavior.

Understanding the benefits and costs to the individuals in adopting a change is helpful in invoking change. For individuals, the costs of changing may include monetary and time costs, but also include emotions, frustrations, and fear of failure. So what does this academic discussion have to do with me? Having the ability on most days to be empathic, I understand the reasons individuals have not adopted new technologies. Letting these individuals know that I understand the differences in viewpoints and having empathy toward their viewpoint (that is different from my own) is an important trait to build trust and relationships.

So why I am blogging? In the next few days, I am going to try some technologies that I have been wanting to try but have not taking the time. I am going to record my processes by blogging.

During the installation and my first uses of these technologies, I want to document some of the thoughts and frustrations (if any) while I adopt these new technologies. Of course, giving tips along the way to help the very novice users through the process. The idea that users can see too that I struggle with the first uses and even with the understanding of how a new technology could be useful.

These are the technologies I will begin to use: 1) blog, 2) rss and atom feeds to keep up with wiki changes, and 3)

See tomorrow's blog on my first experience with blogging.

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