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Is Your Organization Overdue for a Firmware Update?

June 21, 2021
Don Neal

Given all of the changes facing your organization over the next twelve months, not to mention everything you’ve experienced the past 18 months, now is a good time to examine the metaphorical hardware and software that powers your organization.

To simplify, let’s say your organizational hardware is represented by your physical office footprint, IT systems, website, HR policies and procedures, your event portfolio, and the other hard assets and systems you use to run your organization.

And, for now, let’s call your software your people, the team, the human beings that operate on top of your systems, technology, and processes that we’re now calling your organizational hardware.

The immediate question is: what presents the best chance to make the progress necessary to adapt, reimagine, and innovate your way into an uncertain and exciting future? Is it to alter, invest, and upgrade your hardware; or to conduct a firmware update to your software (people)?

When a software developer needs to fix a bug, upgrade a program, or improve the performance of her software, she does a firmware update. In electronic systems and computing parlance, firmware is a tangible electronic component with embedded software instructions that achieves the necessary upgrades.

Aren’t our brains really just complex computing machines that can be updated with new information, emotions, and education?

So, how do you update your team, your people, and their software without the massive cost, time, and risk of investing in new hardware?

How do you conduct a firmware update as we begin to go back to the office, collaborate as a physically proximate community, and begin going back to in-person events and relearning how to navigate the post-COVID future?

Here are three suggestions for a successful firmware update for your most important asset, the software of your organization … your team.

  1. Tell them there is a “software” update coming and explain what it is, why it matters, and how it will work. Specificity = Credibility. Be specific about what is expected and when it is expected, and be ready to adapt to new information to debug flaws in the upgrade. This refers to office policy, travel planning, budgeting, and every facet that may be different in the coming months.
  2. Use this moment to reduce the friction, waste, and inefficiencies in your software (people): meetings that automatically last one-hour; lack of good internal collaboration technology; polices that stifle innovation by not ensuring everyone is heard from with equal weight (does everyone have the appropriate “share of voice?”); and outdated mindsets by leaders rooted in 2019 realities vs those of 2022.
  3. Show your customers (members) what you learned and are doing differently in how you present your organization through your website, how you plan and deliver your events and trade shows, and how you message them via email and social media. Now is the time to update your communications software while the world is looking for leadership, vision, and optimism.

A firmware update can be installed quickly, just like when we need to install an update on our phones, computers, or smart TV’s. It starts with a recognition that there is an opportunity for the software to work more effectively.

Your people are your software. You already know that they power your organization, your culture, and your success.

There has never been a better time for leaders to think about all of the possibilities that are right in front of us if we invest in the right upgrades in the right ways.

We could all use a positive reboot about now.