Cultural Resistance to Technology: From Machine-breakers to Citizen Developers (2)
It seems that we are going through the initial phases of another industrial revolution. This time, it is the software threatening the way traditional companies have operated for decades. Giant hierarchies are being reorganized to render them more agile and processes are being streamlined, resulting in a reduction in time-to-market. Corporate culture, from top to bottom, is going through a change and this brings about uncertainty.
Despite not being as pronounced as the traditional moral economy of the pre-industrial age, every period has its own version of a moral economy—i.e. a set of values that regulate the way economic actors act. Today’s moral economy does not put a premium on job security—unlike the machine-breakers of the nineteenth century, we recognize that unemployment and having to change careers are part of the game. Nevertheless, certain expectations are to be met to keep modern employees happy. Employees want their voices to be heard—this entails delegation of authority and a certain level autonomy. In addition to material compensation, they are motivated by a chance to make an impact and the recognition of their contributions. Other things that motivate the modern workforce include challenging but achievable tasks and opportunity to acquire new skills that will help them remain relevant while keeping them at the top of their game.
This is why there is more to digital transformation than just digitizing certain processes. Digital transformation is not only an administrative policy but a cultural phenomenon as well. The human component of technology can easily complicate things: Workers will refuse to use new technology if they believe that the old ways worked better or that they don’t have enough involvement in a project or that it will cause them to lose their jobs. Lack of buy-in from the workforce can stifle any wholesale transformation effort or worse, even scuttle it altogether.
A case in point where business logic might conflict with values of the workforce is the plethora of metrics being introduced to the work place everyday and how they might be perceived by the employees. Digital transformation produces an immense amount of data and this data is organized into metrics so that change can be measured. These metrics are supposed to increase visibility at work. Visibility makes the value-creation activities more transparent for the decision makers, making it possible for them to understand how employees at each work station perform. However, employees could associate such micromanagement with loss of autonomy and see that kind of data collection as a threat to their jobs.
Involving employees in the planning phase of digital transformation and letting them know what they could expect can disperse the clouds of doubt and build trust within the organization. Employees want to be heard and giving them a say in the way their work is being shaped goes a long way towards making them feel secure and wanted. This gives a company an edge in recruiting and retaining elite talent since material benefits are easily replicable for these people and what makes them jump ship most of the time tend to be factors other than money.
No-code tools provide a solution to this dilemma between organizational productivity and employee autonomy. While, on the one hand, they improve the response time and shorten iteration cycles, on the other hand, they empower the employees to devise tailored solutions to the problems they detected. No-code tools reinforce the values that the modern workforce cares about such as being able to make an impact and staying relevant.
Citizen developers will not be going on a computer-breaking frenzy anytime soon just because they feel their values are violated. But it would be unwise for any company to ignore the needs of its employees when there are no-code platforms that can harness for the common good the creative powers of these people. No-code platforms like Code2 offer companies with a digital transformation agenda the best of both worlds.