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Getting Past Dr. No

There is always someone within an organization who tries to kill an RFID project before it starts. Here's how to deal with that person.
By Mark Roberti
Jun 04, 2012He works at retail companies, transportation organizations and manufacturing firms. He might work in IT, operations or finance. He seems reasonable, smart and entirely committed to your company. But for whatever reason, he does not like radio frequency identification technology, and thus marshal's all of his political weight to kill RFID projects before they begin. He is Dr. No.

I've heard about this character from end users who are frustrated by his opposition, and from vendors who say he is all that stands between them and a successful deployment. He is a fact of life, and he's tough to deal with. He doesn't go away—even if you can get your company to deploy a solution.

There is really only one surefire way to deal with Dr. No: Get a group of loyal RFID team members, some baseball bats and take him out in a dark alley. No, I'm kidding, of course, but I do know a few frustrated individuals who have neared that point of frustration. The good news is that there are ways in which to deal with Dr. No. Here are some suggestions.

Shift the focus: Often, Dr. No feels threatened by RFID. The impression, he feels, is that he's not doing a good job, and that RFID might fix things, thereby threatening his standing. Shifting the focus away from improving current shortcomings can make the technology seem less threatening. I know of an RFID project leader who brought in a Six Sigma team, and used Six Sigma quality improvements as the rational for one project. This made it seem that RFID was just part of the company's ongoing efforts to achieve Six Sigma quality.

This strategy also worked at a company that positioned an RFID project as part of its ongoing efforts to reduce its on-hand inventory (then valued at more than $1 billion). At another firm that was planning to close its warehouses, RFID was introduced to manage one central facility. And some retailers are positioning RFID as a way to respond to online sellers, such as Amazon.com.

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