A people-centric approach to driving change

Najoh Tita-Reid, global chief marketing officer at Logitech, speaks at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif., Oct. 12, 2022.
Stuart Isett for Fortune

The pandemic highlighted the need for businesses to adopt new tech quickly and skillfully, but it takes more than necessity to do so successfully. A company also needs employees to get on board. Therefore, change—even that involving new technology or software—requires a people-centric approach. 

At Block, a decentralized and open source financial platform aimed at helping anyone enter the economy, hiring employees who understand the problem at hand is crucial to executing the tech successfully. 

“When you look around the world, there’s 1.75 billion people who don’t have access to any kind of bank account or any kind of financial services and…60% of these people are women. That’s almost a billion women around the world that are completely disempowered,” said Emily Chiu, chief operating officer at Block subsidiary TBD, at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit in Laguna Niguel, Calif., on Wednesday. “And so for us as an organization, we’re talking about economic empowerment. It’s really important to have women at the table who really understand these problems firsthand.”

In fact, Chiu said, she would rather train an employee on the tech than hire someone less in touch with Block’s customer base. 

“It’s such a nascent space, even the experts can’t keep up with all the developments,” she said. 

Plus, it’s not as if companies are demanding that every employee be fluent in every new platform or app. 

“Being clear as managers…that this is the one or these are the three technologies that have crossed over from being cutting-edge to core,” said Kathryn Minshew, founder and CEO of The Muse. “And we expect people to be fluent on core.” 

With that comes the insight to designate certain tasks to humans and others to the tech, Minshew says. 

“My belief is you should let technology do what technology does best, and let humans do what humans do best—and be very clear about the difference,” she said. “Where organizations get into trouble is when you try to either over-automate functions that really benefit from or require empathy, discernment, personal judgment, or where you burden your people with repetitive tasks or overwhelming or outdated technology, archaic processes that massively could be improved.”

Adopting new tech or any other kind of change is difficult for many employees—whether or not they agree with the change. 

“You do have to understand the human brain and understand that at the end of the day, when humans experience change, whether it is good or bad change, they still go through the same thing, right?” said Najoh Tita-Reid, global chief marketing officer at Logitech. “They still get the same fight or flight mentality.” 

In fact, employee buy-in is usually the hardest part of a tech change. 

“I’m a big believer in engaging and activating and empowering your leadership team first and really calling on your leaders and giving your leaders the space to really consume the change themselves. Understand ‘the why’: ‘What’s in it for me? And how will I be successful for them and for their teams?’” said Erica Schultz, president of field operations at Confluent.

One way to make transitions smoother is to hold change-management training, said Tita-Reid. Her company did it, and managers at all levels became more skilled at ushering in those shifts with their teams. 

“The younger generation, especially, had never gone through change-management training: [We] took everyone through it and made them accountable for leading the change,” she added. 

Sign up for the Fortune Features email list so you don’t miss our biggest features, exclusive interviews, and investigations.

Read More

Brainstorm HealthBrainstorm DesignBrainstorm TechMost Powerful WomenCEO Initiative