Photo by Gilles Lambert on UnsplashWe sure do focus a lot on innovation in technology.

And that’s fine, I guess, but it leads us to think that tech is how most problems get solved. And in my experience, it’s usually not the problem.

Most often, innovation needs to happen in the way people think and interact.

Sure, tech can help us to think, learn, interact, make decisions, and align. That’s a wonderful thing.

But until the people involved change, technology is ineffective. Here’s an example:

I lead a team of people, and we’re snowed under by the amount of activity going on. Tons of decisions, questions zipping back and forth, and group deadlines that we’re trying to meet.

So we adopt some groupware. Magnificent!

Except nothing changes, because we discover that the people on my team already have work patterns that work reasonably well. For each of them individually. Some use a lot of email, some are texting, others are making use of shared Google Drives.

So we provide training on the groupware, and even add a dose of enthusiasm because we really do– honestly — want to get everyone on the same platform.

But the needle moves 3%.

It’s because, face it, people aren’t comfortable with change imposed from the outside. Even when we have an impassioned plea that it’s “for the greater good,” it’s more comfortable to stick with old patterns. The current process and tools may not be ideal, but I know how they work and where the gotchas are.

Our challenge, as innovators, is to start with the people first. Because when the people aren’t excited to change, pretty much nothing else makes a difference.

Start with customers and employees. And yourself.

This article was first published in InnovatioNews.