by Carol Rozwell

Like many of you, I spent some very enjoyable time during the holidays getting together with family and friends. Also like many of you, our tradition is to distribute the effort of cooking by asking everyone to bring something for the meal.

This year my assignment was to bring sweet potatoes. No offense to sweet potatoes with marshmallows fans, but my family much prefers savory dishes to sweet so I was at a loss as to how to prepare them. Usually we just bake them, split them open when done and add butter. This didn’t seem fancy enough for a party. I looked through a few recipes. Nothing excited my imagination so I called the planning ringleader and asked if she had any ideas of what to prepare.

A few days later she came back to me and suggested I bring something else. She’d checked with the family and most admitted they really didn’t like sweet potatoes so no point in making them.

I’ve been reminded of the wisdom of this approach – don’t do what people won’t value – as I’ve been researching successful Digital Workplace implementations. We seem to be crossing over into a new approach to technology deployment. This one is focused on giving employees what they want: the opportunity to be more effective. Previous generations of ‘technology for technology’s sake’ deployments got quagmired. They seldom reached critical mass because the value to the target audience was not readily apparent. Oftentimes there were other critical success factors that were overlooked – things like behavior change and the impact of social network influencers on uptake – but in so many cases the technology only improved a peripheral part of the employee’s job. It didn’t help them do a better job of the work they felt was most important, the work that gave them the most satisfaction when they could do it well.

Numerous studies point to the positive impact engaged employees have on corporate performance, as well as the negative impact of disengaged employees. Many well-known writers cite the importance of giving employees valuable work that they can be proud of. Our Gartner brain model research also delves into this issue. Therefore, it’s critical that you understand what employees like and want before you develop your Digital Workplace plan.
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