The Plugged-In Manager is ideal for RIM practitioners, non-believers, and perhaps, even exceptional managers who want a refresher course in how to get things done. But I think it will be especially helpful to in-house attorneys. Dr. Griffith analyzes and outlines many examples of business success and failure and how "plugged-in" managers consistently outperform those who do not plug in. In short, "plugged in" means that you "stop, look, and listen" to co-workers and employees and you understand what has worked, and can work, at your company. It is not just about technology. It is not just about rules. It is not just about organizational issues. It is about all of those taken in the context of your people and customers. There are even some handy self-assessment forms and, tips and methods to help you get others to plug in.
While there are many excellent examples, I found two of them nicely illustrated the opposite ends of the spectrum. On the one hand, there was Amazon's unilateral decision to start deleting e-books off of the Kindle reading machines, after it was determined that these copies were in breach of copyright law. It was not so much that users wanted to break the law. It was just that the solution from Amazon was too invasive. It was as if Amazon never understood how their customers might feel violated and lose trust in the company and the product.
On the other end of the spectrum. Dr. Griffith describes how Southwest Airlines totally revised its check-in and boarding routines. This was no small feat. Everything had to change. From the technology that reserved your spot on the plane, to the way people lined up before boarding the planes. And, in spite of all these complexities, the changes happened, with hardly any customer complaints or backlash. This was not by accident. Plugged-In management recognized and planned for policies, procedures, and training, to bring the new system online. They succeeded because they had considered the people, the processes, and, the technology.
I really wish I could locate the specific academic study Dr. Griffith shared with me back in 2000, but the numbers were staggering and started me on the path to enlightenment. For any given software implementation, when users were polled beforehand, (part of "negotiated implementation" and the "plugged in" process) the adoption and use of new software after implementation exceeded 70%. When users were not polled, and just received new software selected for them by the organization, the adoption rate was closer to 20%. This represents a substantial justification for anybody who wants to improve RIM, e-discovery, security, privacy, or any other enterprise-wide or cross-functional technology.
Having spent the last seven years helping organizations review and update their information systems and legal policies, I believe polling the users versus not polling means the difference between success and failure. It might just be as simple as giving your employees the feeling of being "engaged" in the process versus being the "victims" of the wrath of a dis-engaged management.
Moreover, Plugged-In provides a useful explanation for why project management alone is not sufficient to succeed. Sure, there are substantial benefits to having a taskmaster push a project along. But, when projects take a long period of time, as they often do, without the commitment of an engaged user base, project management will not save you. I think the secret is that the Plugged-In approach helps you to both, set a better initial goal and, then to make appropriate changes and adjustments along the way. Of course, this means you will have to continue to stop, look, and listen, until the project is completed.
The only downside to Dr. Griffith's approach is that the concepts seem very simple. As you read, you will have a tendency to believe that you already know this stuff. Simple truths always seem oh, so obvious, especially after you read them in a good book. But I challenge you to look at an organization you know well, and review past technology upgrade successes and failures through the prism of the Plugged-In framework. It's likely you'll be rewarded with solid explanations for both the successes and failures.
In my counseling experience, I learned the first question to ask a client was about their last attempt to update their records or information systems, and how that went. Most times I have heard about the attempt(s), and the reasons it/they failed. These Plugged-In techniques won't guarantee you'll succeed, but I am convinced they will significantly improve your odds. They have certainly helped me to help my customers.