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Firm Management

Mindset is the Differentiator

When you embark on a new technology initiative, you may focus on choosing the right software or working with the right consultant. These things are essential, but what really makes or breaks a project occurs before any of these decisions are made.

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When you embark on a new technology initiative, you may focus on choosing the right software or working with the right consultant. These things are essential, but what really makes or breaks a project occurs before any of these decisions are made. The outcome of your initiative is primarily determined by your mindset.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” – Henry Ford

As the famous quote above emphasizes, mindset is a powerful thing. It determines the success or failure of any project you take on, and technology initiatives are no exception.

Mindset starts at the top

If you’ve ever had a naysayer on your team, you know that mindset can be contagious. A negative attitude spreads like a disease, infecting your organization from the top down.

Fortunately, positive attitudes also trickle down from leaders. That’s why it’s so important to get buy-in from leadership on technology initiatives. When firm leaders share their passion for new solutions and new processes, the simple act of getting involved and being positive about the coming changes can help your team stay the course through the inevitable challenges.

Achieving buy-in

So how do you get buy-in and adopt the mindset required for success? Here are a few strategies we’ve seen firms use.

  • Focus on alignment. Does your firm have a technology plan that is aligned with your firm’s vision and strategic plan? Your chances for success significantly increase when you have an overall firm strategy and an integrated IT plan.
  • Technology steering committee. Firms that successfully leverage IT as a strategic asset recognize there is no such thing as an IT project – only firm projects led by leaders with the support of IT. A technology steering committee with cross-functional representation can help ensure technology initiative are aligned with firm strategy and assign tasks to people who can successfully execute the plan.
  • Envision a better future. You’re probably familiar with the phrase, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” Most people would agree that it’s critical for leaders to know where the firm is going, but it’s just as important for the team around you to be aware of the firm’s strategic plan. Everyone responds better to a clear vision of the end goal. Develop your vision for how technology will bring your firm into a better future and share it throughout the firm.
  • Features tell, but benefits sell. IT people tend to get caught up in the features of a new technology solution, but features don’t always resonate with the average end-user. Pitch your new initiatives by showing how users will benefit from the project rather than merely listing all of the cool things the new technology can do.
  • Tap into the power of a peer group. There is tremendous power in learning from others who have “been there, done that.” A peer group can provide outside perspectives, new ideas and confirmation you’re on the right path. All of these will increase the comfort level of your team and ultimately buy-in throughout the firm.

Mindset is the differentiator

In our peer group communities, our consultants hear countless stories about technology initiatives from members. Often, our members are working on the same efforts and with the same vendors, but their results are very different. Whether we’re talking about migrating from legacy file systems to a cloud platform, leveraging data through dashboards and business analytics, or tapping into new talent resources through virtual workers and the gig economy, mindset is the differentiator.

In every situation, there are a handful of solutions in the market that essentially do the same thing, yet one firm will talk about an abysmal failure while another firm sings its praises. We’ve discovered that when successful firms enter these projects, they view tools from the perspective of progress, not perfection. They’re open to changing their processes and training their people to make it work.

On the flip side, firms that fail tend to look at all the shortcomings and abandon the project after (or sometimes during) the first year. In any initiative, technology is only the enabler. Mindset and a willingness to work through any challenge are what really determines whether these projects succeed.

Before you embark on your next technology initiative, ask yourself whether you are fully committed to success. The right mindset can make all the difference in ensuring that your belief in a successful outcome is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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