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Feeling the Hardware: The Emotionality of Technology-Based Organizational Change
Unformatted Document Text:  Feeling the Hardware, p. 8 The impetus for CSIS came from a group of managers who felt the statistics on services provided that were being gathered at the national level were suspect. People recorded work differently at the various branches, for example, using different categories at different levels of analysis. Better statistics were needed for planning as well as for making the case for government funds. Prior to the centralized database, each office entered data into their local database (or, in the case of small offices, simply kept paper records) and sent paper summaries to the national office. There were other problems caused by the old system, too. For example, some offices saw repeat clients, but did not have a complete history of their work these people, such as information associated with other incidents that might have been associated with that client. A group of managers proposed to the national board of directors that addressing this issue become a priority. They were initially just proposing a standardized, but still distributed database, not a national, centralized electronic database. The Board agreed with the managers’ proposal and requested the national office to coordinate the new system. They had just hired a new CEO, David, who took on the responsibility of, as he said, “driving” the implementation process. It is important to understand just how “low tech” this organization was. Like many not- for-profit organizations, they work with a shoestring budget. In mid-2001, the branch offices did not even have email. As Mary, the manager of the office in which I observed the following events, told me two months before the scheduled implementation, “I’m just getting my head around what’s required regarding our computers. It will have a huge impact on the way we do our work.” Her office had two old PCs, neither of which had enough memory to handle the new system. Because of the lack of technology in the branch offices, most staff had minimal computer skills. Critical Events: The First Two Training Sessions

Authors: Zorn, Ted.
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Feeling the Hardware, p. 8
The impetus for CSIS came from a group of managers who felt the statistics on services
provided that were being gathered at the national level were suspect. People recorded work
differently at the various branches, for example, using different categories at different levels
of analysis. Better statistics were needed for planning as well as for making the case for
government funds. Prior to the centralized database, each office entered data into their local
database (or, in the case of small offices, simply kept paper records) and sent paper
summaries to the national office. There were other problems caused by the old system, too.
For example, some offices saw repeat clients, but did not have a complete history of their
work these people, such as information associated with other incidents that might have been
associated with that client.
A group of managers proposed to the national board of directors that addressing this
issue become a priority. They were initially just proposing a standardized, but still distributed
database, not a national, centralized electronic database. The Board agreed with the
managers’ proposal and requested the national office to coordinate the new system. They had
just hired a new CEO, David, who took on the responsibility of, as he said, “driving” the
implementation process.
It is important to understand just how “low tech” this organization was. Like many not-
for-profit organizations, they work with a shoestring budget. In mid-2001, the branch offices
did not even have email. As Mary, the manager of the office in which I observed the
following events, told me two months before the scheduled implementation, “I’m just getting
my head around what’s required regarding our computers. It will have a huge impact on the
way we do our work.” Her office had two old PCs, neither of which had enough memory to
handle the new system. Because of the lack of technology in the branch offices, most staff
had minimal computer skills.
Critical Events: The First Two Training Sessions


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