Very often we hear industry experts talk about the necessary combination of technology and policy and how one cannot exist without the other. Recently, I spoke with IT pros about cost-cutting initiatives they’d undergone in their organizations. One of them was just starting to introduce greener, cheaper printing among employees. The goal for this company is to eventually do things like use multifunction devices, get employees to think before they print, and to print on both sides of the paper. But this head of IT refused to go with the usual technology and policy recipe, instead opting for a grass-roots approach to changing worker behaviour.
Before he ventured into policy, he wanted to evangelize the cause with one department leader at a time, eventually building a strong enough following among which would emerge a champion to lead the cause for greener cheaper printing. Then would come the policy.
Many IT departments will use policy to dictate employee thinking and action with the introduction of new technology, but perhaps there can be a preceding step much like what this aforementioned company is doing. It’s important that employees first understand for themselves why they are doing something and what the benefits are, rather than having it dictated to them how they should behave. That said, this organic approach won’t always work. In areas like IT security, for instance, affording employees the time to discover for themselves why IT security is important will have grave consequences for the company as a whole.
But I do like the organic grass-roots tack for the less-risky IT projects, especially when it could make writing and enforcing policy afterwards a lot easier because that policy was in a way created from the ground up by the users themselves.
Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau