Software Acquisition and Faulty Assumptions
We are an acquisition based society. We tie all sorts of images
and expectations to a purchase, whether it is a home, a car,
clothes, even a company… and it’s no different with software.
We buy and we expect to be happy… or at least happier. We
expect that the software will help us get things done easier.
Buying technology to solve problems seems natural enough.
Who would think it can also be like pulling a trailer full of
mis-guided assumptions? Assumptions that lead
to poor outcomes and conflict – e.g. you won’t be happy.
But it can, so let’s talk about why it’s important to
uncouple yourself from the “purchase” assumptions. In this
brief blog, I’d like to cover how to recognize the acquistion
assumptions and not fall prey to the “let down” that they
typically impose following a purchase.
OK, first off, if you look at what drives our purchase decision,
one of the things that pops out is that we make choices based
upon thinking that we’ll be better off if we do so. Makes sense,
as the opposite would be a disaster… in fact I believe
we call people like that self defeating.
You wouldn’t be self defeating when it comes to buying
technology would you? Before you answer that, read on.
Here’s what I notice. We buy a technology, like ManagePro,
because we believe that it will either do something good
or avoid something bad. Something good looks like
getting better organized, or having better visibility across
projects and people. Or maybe that it will help us
avoid getting blind-sided by something falling behind without
our awareness, or not working out as planned, or stuff
that’ isn’t getting enough attention and follow-through.
Here’s where the faulty assumption comes in. Acquisition,
although most all of us like the feeling of purchasing,
actually delivers less of the outcome than we expect or
have convinced ourselves would come to pass.
With software technology, there’s usually this next step of learning,
becoming competent, putting it to use regularly – e.g. practice.
Now if you like learning, you’re fine, and/or if you like the new
technology then you’re fine again – it’s fun.
But what if learning stuff isn’t fun, and mastering new software
just looks like a time sink when you already don’t have enough time?
Then acquisition looks like it just introduced a whole lot of aggravation.
Suddenly buying software with the assumptions that it will make things
better begins to look like a joke… even self defeating.
So how do you uncouple buying software from unrealistic assumptions,
so you have a good, not bad, outcome?
Let me give you one word picture to chew on. Get this and you
are instantly freed from assumptions that will trip you up.
Technology, and in particular software, is not a silver bullet!
Doesn’t look like it, doesn’t act like it, don’t even think that way.
It’s more like a new toolbox full of an improved set of tools.
Sometimes it’s also a big magnifying glass as pointed out by David
Coleman in his book 42 Rules. Somethings the good and
the bad about people and processes get much clearer.
The biggest predictor for good outcomes with software
is the likelihood that the individual or group acquiring
it will regularly put it to use – not that they bought
it after some deliberation and comparison process.
Have tools ever fixed a car? No, not without someone putting
them into effect. Acquistion or purchasing is just the start.
There’s no magic to purchasing. It can be fun, but it doesn’t
complete the solution, it just starts the adventure. Don’t
confuse the mini-buzz we all get from making a purchase
with the satisfaction of having acheived the benefits of
having a new well functioning solution in place.
In fact as an acquisition based society, I think we often
settle for the mini-buzz that comes from the acquisition
experience. I know I do. Feeling like “I did something”
(by purchasing or reading something), and then rationalize
the fact that I didn’t commit enough regular time and
effort to complete the rest of the steps of the journey.
Steps that we somehow didn’t see quite as clearly,
or perceive to be so long, prior to the purchase.
Purchasing software fits in with our acquisition tuned
senses to make us feel like we’ve really done something.
It can easily embody an assumption that purchasing is
very close to having a solution in place. In fact, it’s just the
doorway into the much bigger practicing part of the
“building a solution” process. Get that 2nd phase right, the
practice part, and you’ve really paired something powerful
with a purchase. Happiness.