What training wheels?

Process, inbound goods, onsite receipt, warranty and repair, contract plan to sourcing, contract development, stock reorder, material master… and the rest. There is no red bow on it, yet the package is scheduled to be launched next March, and, in spite of the mix of interest and concern from my client’s procurement group, it does not quite feel like a much anticipated holiday gift. The introduction of a renowned enterprise resource planning software is often like a controversial reality TV show: we know of it, we do not quite understand the whole message behind, and we rarely remain indifferent about it, with a conclusive “like” or “unlike” idea.

Although we know the current system qualifies for an antique store, the users got used to it, and, even if some are still ranting about it, they have become so accustomed to it that it seems unrealistic (and sometimes melodramatic) to consider a different way to function. Introducing a new vision may sound revolutionary when the message is poorly received. All comes down to the sales pitch, and showing some awareness about the audience, especially when the audience will soon turn into end users. Tough exercise, whether we speak the same language: presenting a brand new tool which may (and likely will) lead to a deeper revision of internal processes takes a certain talent, sometimes artistic, so the pill gets swallowed as smoothly as possible.

Like any project involving a public, the key is to engage it: imagine the Beatles standing still behind their instruments with no facial or body expression… Ok, maybe an enterprise software is not as entertaining, I get that. If the introduction or the training of a new system sounds like a monologue on a taciturn ton, there is a great chance the end users’ stress level is going to rise closer to the launch date.

Facilitators, trainers and other coaches, please spend some time asking if your audience gets your point when you share it, not an hour later, when everybody has forgotten about it, or stumbled across other speed bumps: it is a risk management check for later. There is no need to wrap the delivery with some expensive and shiny tools to impress with if the receiver cannot use any of that package on her/his own once unleashed in the world. In person, through a web or call conference, the training can be seamless and actually enjoyable: I have seen and been part of many instances where this happened.

I remember when my father ran beside me the day I agreed to take the training wheels off of my bike. He ran, far, I crashed, once: I got distracted with the excitement that I was riding faster than him. He encouraged me to get back on the saddle, in spite of a few scratches and drama tears. He did not sit on a bench waiting for me to build confidence and ride on my own. And that software training can be nice too with offering extra spokes and spare tires too, with everybody on the field.