Sunday, October 19, 2008

More Compendium history (part 7): Difficulties in Diffusing the Practices

This is part 7 of a series.
Back to Part 6

Despite these exciting developments and collaborations, however, we still faced difficulty, and sometimes even active resistance, in attracting new practitioners. This was the case both within what was by now Bell Atlantic as well as within CCL, as well as other organizations. Demand for us to provide Compendium services within Bell Atlantic continued to increase. Indeed, we ultimately hired and trained facilitators from an outside firm to keep up with demand. But the phenomenon of potential internal practitioners trying it once then giving up, or rejecting it outright, did not abate. 

Within the IT and client organizations of Bell Atlantic, we heard two main objections. The first came especially from the software engineers and developers who were our main training clientele. Most said that the tool was not a true object modeling, database, or “collaboration” tool. We would be asked, "why would we use Compendium when we can use Lotus Notes, or Visio, or Access, or …". It seemed that by asking technical people to act as facilitators and communicators, we were pushing them beyond their comfort zone. There were one or two of our students who (despite being IT people) were gifted communicators, but they tended to feel that their existing toolkit cared for all their needs, and did not see the need to add Compendium to their quivers.

At the same time, within organizations like CCL which had many talented and capable facilitators, the approach appeared to many as “too technical,” too difficult or foreign, too hyper-rational. People accustomed to free-form discussion capture on flipcharts and whiteboards did not like the idea of constraining their representations to what they thought that Compendium could provide. 

For both constituencies, capturing and representing complex issues in the software, in front of a group of people watching one’s every move, choosing node and link types and performing complex operations on the fly, trying to keep up with fast-moving conversation, just seemed too hard for most people to do.

Next and last: Continued Evolution

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