Stockholm Syndrome Go-Live

I visited the site of a mid-size, 80 person client during Bullhorn training and go-live yesterday. It’s been a while since I walked around an office during those early days of a launch. And, I had forgotten how intense and emotionally charged go-lives can be. The employees of this particular client had spent years learning to perform their jobs a certain way. Software systems were a very large part of their day. They had a system of 6 different databases – candidates, clients, jobs, placements, housing and documentation all lived in separate, entirely disconnected systems.

You would imagine that the transition to Bullhorn from a system that required users to keep track of connections between records in their head would be easy – Bullhorn’s so easy to use and everything’s tied together for you. You would expect people to be overjoyed. Users are never prepared for the challenge of unlearning their old systems. “You’d be amazed at how comfortable I was in 6 systems”, one recruiter told us. It’s like users develop a Stockholm Syndrome with their old software systems. No matter how painful or cumbersome the system, moving away from it and out of their comfort zone is incredibly stressful. One woman had become overwhelmed the day prior during her training sessions. Her husband sent her flowers with a card, “Tame that Bull”.

The stress of having to juggle candidates and clients while you’re learning adds yet another dimension. “I’m looking for a resume. Where’s my G Drive?!”, “I’m looking at a client record. How do I change over to the candidate database?” The response to these questions is good news, “You don’t need those things any more. Just type the name of the person or company you want to find and hit enter.” Once they actually try it and see that every thing they need is there and it’s really easier to find, they loosen up. It’s like watching someone learn to ice skate – they hold on to the railing, let go for a second, get nervous and grab it again. And finally, they trust themselves, smile and say, “Hey, this is actually really good!”

Near noon, the woman whose husband sent her the flowers asked me a question. She was zipping around the system so quickly that I actually had trouble keeping up with her. The whole process was very gratifying to watch.

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