Megan Gailey's job is all about helping people be effective at work. She is the Director of Global Training, Corporate Events & Tradeshows at National Semiconductor and has worked for tech leaders Xilinx and Cisco. I first worked with Megan as she led a world-class effort at Cisco to support their global communities of practice. In these roles she has helped her communities learn to weave together their available technology tools and organizational practices, with an understanding of the skills and needs of the people involved. MeganGaileyMegan is a systems savvy leader and helps others develop this capability as she promotes change in the organization. Like many systems savvy leaders, she started out in engineering, but switched to learning and development in technical settings given her "love of both... technology and people together." Her approach uses demonstration and evidence to bring technology and practice solutions into the workplace. She recalls joining an organization that, though global, seemed to be overlooking the value that collaboration technologies could provide for team meetings and support. She took a systems approach to the situation: She reached out to her network of technical experts for advice on the different technical options given the company's needs and workflow, she worked with corporate IT to consider the technical environment, and then she looked for the early adopters and situations where there would be strong value -- in this case, getting a far flung set of experts into virtual meetings to pass along their knowledge, and to save this knowledge for future use. Megan explains:
I tend to focus on the people who are the willing participants... the early adopters. Then through their demonstration and behavior change, show success. [The success] sways the resistors and the people on the fence. Get the earlier adoptors excited and the fence people come along. I think that helps in the tech environment. The engineers need demonstrated evidence to accept and adopt. You have to show them a case, a pilot, a success, and then you can persuade.
My take on the demonstration approach is that it helps people see the situation in context -- as apart of an overall system. It is from intertwining organizational practices, technology features, and implementation that you create new ways of working -- not from stand-alone technologies or organizational adjustments. Megan's engineers seem to have an innate understanding of this and want to make their judgement based on the combination of effects. Megan has found a strategy that shows the full system at work in the given setting and with peers doing the demo - very powerful! How have you helped others become more systems savvy? Comment below, email me, post to Twitter -- would love to share your example.