New Doesn’t Always Mean Better

I am sitting in a ferry lineup as I write this blog post. I commute from Gibsons, BC – a pretty little seaside town on the Sunshine Coast that is only a 40-minute ferry ride from West Vancouver. We have our AHA office in Gibsons and we have a business development office in Vancouver. (I am rarely in the Vancouver office because I go to the offices of our clients.)

We have an Internet stick that I use when I commute, when I travel, and even if we are out and about on the Sunshine Coast and I might need to do something for a client. My computer and Internet stick are my constant companions. I have spent most of my life travelling for work or for pleasure; and when you run your own agency and are a bit of a control freak like me – when you travel for pleasure, you are often working too.

A few months ago, we realized that our Internet stick was pretty old. It was big and cumbersome and, well, not very pretty. I called it the “Monster” (and not always with affection). The newer model looked sleek and efficient and high tech. It was impressive looking. It was smaller, thinner and prettier. We were asked to upgrade by our service provider. So we upgraded. What a mistake. I miss my big old Monster stick so much.

My Monster stick was solid and reliable. It worked. And I knew I could rely on it. In cold weather and in hot weather – I even spilled coffee on it once and it just kept working. This new one is flimsy. We are on our third stick in a matter of months and I haven’t even spilled anything on it yet! It has factory defects and the design of it is challenging – the main piece snaps off easily if you aren’t careful. It is just a poor piece of equipment. I often cannot get Internet…

The lesson I learned that I think translates well for communicators (and just about anyone) – don’t give up on something that is working now and be lured in by the newest fad, trend or technology without doing your research and understanding what you are giving up relevant to what you are getting. Sure, my new piece looks good – but it doesn’t deliver the reliability of the Monster. In this case, the reliability factor is far more important to me than the style and look of the piece.

When reviewing your communications tools, tactics and technologies and if you decide it is time to change, make sure you are changing for the right reasons and know what you will gain and what you will give up. For example, if you think you might want to stop printing an annual brochure and switch to using Twitter to promote your products, services or organization as a whole, there are some questions to ask yourself before you make that leap. Some of them include:

• What benefits do we currently get from this brochure?
• What benefits would I get from Twitter?
• What am I willing to give up to get these new benefits?
• Do I know for certain that what is being promised is accurate?

And go deep. Don’t make assumptions about what the benefits are – ask your stakeholder group(s) what they think, research what other similar organizations are doing, and identify best and worst practices. Make an informed decision.

Change, even small, always has an element of risk. Make sure you know the risk and do everything you can to mitigate it. The one action I should have done before I switched – Googled: “problem with Bell Internet stick.” That would have influenced my decision.

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