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We are living in an age of incredible technological progress. So much so that it has become an impossibility to ignore the progress and the change it has brought about in consumers and businesses around the world. Only thinking of the ramifications of inventions such as the Internet and the mobile phone and how it has changed the way people think, interact, buy and sell dramatically.
In the family business it is natural that considerable pride is derived from a stable history. This might sometimes imply a conservative mindset, which is geared towards preservation and protecting what has taken many arduous years to establish. However, family firms are also uniquely apt to adopt new technologies because of their ability to make quick decisions and great internal trust amongst owners.
Nevertheless, introducing your family business to a new technology can be a tricky business, especially if you are the family member who wants to champion change. The following five steps are worth considering before you embark on such a journey:
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Do your research
What’s new is not always what’s best. In these days of fast-paced change we tend to get too easily convinced that what is new is necessarily better or has to be implemented at any cost. In the case of introducing new technology to the family business it is advisable to prepare the case well, highlighting why this innovation is relevant to your business and not just why others have done well by adopting it.
Before you present your idea to the extended family council, make sure you run it by individual family members and get first reactions from them. Finding out how others feel about your idea earlier in the process might allow you to prepare better for questions that might follow later on.
Don’t use jargon
Once you are ready to present your idea or the new technology to the family do not lose people by using tech jargon. Be reminded that usually in these cases you will deal with people of different generations and backgrounds and not understanding what you are saying might create unnecessary prejudice against your new idea.
Understand the cost – financial and other
Introducing new technology always comes with a cost. Usually the aim is not only to improve a situation but to eventually replace something or someone. Understanding that this might touch the family business at its core is important when you prepare your argument. Ask yourself whether your family is ready to let go of certain activities or processes before beginning this discussion.
Tharawat Magazine, Issue 26, 2015