The now classic Seinfeldian “yada yada yada” is a phrase so many of us (still) use to headline a story and gloss over details is – like most comedy – a double-edged sword of both humor and truth.
Of course, the “yada yada yada” ceases to be funny when the all-too-common tendency to lay out a plan and leave out the details arrives on your desk in the form of a none-too-well thought out project. And you’re tasked with making sure it both works and is profitable.
That’s when this cartoon is also more painful than funny because now the truth is happening to you.
This is why companies bring in third parties.
Solving the Problem, Delivering Success
Third parties’ external perspective affords them the opportunity to assess the reality of the landscape and then build a logical, strategic, actionable plan. They eliminate the “yada yada yada” and put in real, detailed plans. They answer questions like:
• How, precisely, will we get from Point A to Point B?
• How will we identify the barriers to getting to Point B?
• How will we structure this plan so you get the biggest bang for the buck?
• Do we have the organizational capacity – infrastructure, personnel, bandwidth – to measure and monitor progress toward the business goals?
• If we moved ahead without a strategic plan, what will a misstep cost? – and is that something you can afford?
• How will we make sure you get short-term lift and long-term results?
• How do we cut through the red tape and move ahead quickly in days in weeks, instead of months?
Real World Example
Do the above questions sound familiar? They’re from real situations we encounter all the time and we find many clients are looking to jumpstart their organization’s internal changes (e.g., program implementations and technology adoption). Usually with a deadline of yesterday.
For example, a recent client was about to launch a very expensive and very public (national) pilot program simultaneously introducing the company’s new, proprietary software and changing their business model. They had a lot invested and it’s not hyperbole to say the future of the organization was riding these changes. There was an incredible level of risk and uncertainty around whether or not people would use their technology and if they’d be successful.
- unknowns to became known
- clarity about what issues were most pressing
- a structured and benchmarked action plan
- to know how best to organize and execute both the technology adoption plan and the re-org change management plan.
Being too close to the project, being overworked just trying to get the system right, the client both couldn’t see the problem and didn’t have the time to figure out what to do. So in just a few days’ time, we delivered a Quick Start Strategy, replacing the “yada, yada, yada” and “insert miracle here” with:
- precise, actionable plans of how to proceed
- specific short- and long-term activities to achieve gains both short- and long-term
- a sustainable success road map to guide them through the next phase of their program
In a nutshell, we helped them to take actions to move forward so the whole company could move ahead confidently. As masters of their domain.
Find out how you can get similar results. Contact us to learn more
As ‘user adoption’ is becoming a better-known aspect of IT implementations one thought leader in particular stands out. And one of the things we at Tri Tuns love about Michael Sampson is his distinct ability to distill the complexities of user adoption into an easily understood and digested reasoned process.
While Michael specifically centers his work on collaboration technologies such as SharePoint, in a recent two-part SlideShare presentation he walks the viewer through the larger concepts surrounding user adoption by beginning with a discussion around the idea that “great technology is not enough” but is just “a small factor in success.”
90% People, 10% Technology
To underscore his point, Michael brings up research done in the 1990s – the findings of which mirror our experiences since the 90s. The study Michael cites found that a major theme, the formula for success was, in this case when building virtual teams, “90% people, 10% technology”.
That is, even 15-20 years ago we had the data showing us the need to focus on the people – that is, the business drivers, the team culture, social patterns and interdependencies, etc. and focusing too much on the technology was a perfect way to set yourself up for failure.
Of course, however, the goal in business isn’t so much to avoid failure, but to create success and maximize the value of what your organization does. And technology is merely the tool your people and your teams use to generate success and build value.
Michael Sampson continues the presentation emphasizing ensuring people adopt the company’s technological tool(s) to create value doesn’t just happen – it’s made to happen. There is focus, effort, infrastructure and, perhaps most importantly, an adoption strategy.
Don't Assume 100% User Adoption in Your Business Case
Incorporating an idea Tri Tuns also raises frequently, Michael points out business cases assume 100% adoption. This assumption is a mistake on multiple levels and is one that can heavily skew ROI and IRR projections so they look a lot better on paper than they ever will in reality.
“Poor adoption is a common issue,” Michael says and it’s “a process, not an event.” He goes on to outline a four-step model of user adoption that includes Winning Attention, Cultivating Basic Concepts, Enlivening Applicability, and Making it Real.
Throughout his presentation, he emphasizes that in most cases, vendors have done their part and that success at your organization is up to you. This makes ultimate sense when you think about the 90/10 rule of spending 90% of your time and effort on your people, and only 10% on the technology. After all, only you, not the vendor, is going to know your business drivers, your culture, your governance structure and institutional best practices that are in place to generate success and build value for your organization.
As always, Michael has a great presentation (check out part 2 for further illustration of user adoption successes and debacles through real-life examples) and we’re excited for him that his book, User Adoption Strategies is now in its second edition! Be sure to pick up a copy and read Tri Tuns’ CEO Jason Whitehead’s contribution, an expanded article based on a previous blog entry.
Other resources of interest:
This is the final in a five part series. Start at the beginning here.
Mark Twain, a man who died decades before modern information systems were even conceived, may hold some of the greatest lessons for how to deliver successful technology adoption programs.
So in this last installment, I'm just going to give you a few things to think about now that we've reached the end of our week of Mark Twain.
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
Mark Twain offered great insight into the human psyche. His plain-spoken words have the power to enlighten us far beyond those of the most gifted linguist. So, what have you learned from Mark Twain that will help you on your user adoption programs?
- What assumptions do you make about the drivers and barriers to user adoption? What don’t you know? What do you “know for sure that just ain't so”? How do you recognize the difference? How does this hurt you?
- What makes the people on your team (internal employees or external consultants) qualified to deliver effective user adoption? Mark Twain said, “If you hold a cat by the tail you learn things you cannot learn any other way.” Have your team members held the cat by the tail?
- Are your communications effective? Do you listen more than you speak? If not, do you ever, “succeed in making those idiots understand their own language”?
- Take our free User Adoption Challenge to see what specific user adoption issues you face on your IT project.
- Read our free eBook on avoiding implementation failure (specifically CRM), and steps to achieve success.
- Check out MyUserAdoptionPlan.com - an all-in-one User Adoption Portal.
- Contact us to learn more.
This is the fourth in a five part series. Start at the beginning here.
It's amazing to consider how the insights and teachings of Mark Twain -- a man who died decades before modern information systems were even conceived -- may hold some of the greatest lessons for how to deliver successful technology adoption programs.
So in this fourth installment of our look at Mark’s words in relation to motivation as it exists within IT user adoption programs.
When examined in the context of various aspects of effective user adoption programs, Mark shows us some of the common mistakes and misplaced assumptions that often plague many IT projects.
As I'm asking throughout this series -- how can you use Mark’s insights to deliver a more effective user adoption program?
Motivation is key to user adoption. Motivation is internal to the individual, and cannot be prescribed. While you can make some assumptions about what motivates people, truly understanding motivations require that you listen to people and watch for unspoken cues about what matters to them.
Many IT projects get into trouble because they assume they can just tell people, “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM) and the people will adopt the system. However, they often try to do this without first learning, “what’s important to me”. Further, they often discount or ignore the role that human emotion plays in motivation. Finally, the role that leadership plays in motivating – or many times, demotivating – is often underestimated. Quite simply, most communication projects fundamentally miss the boat when it comes to understanding and addressing the motivation component of user adoption. Not surprisingly, Mark Twain has some insights on this as well.
IN MARK TWAIN'S WORDS
- “Any emotion, if it is sincere, is involuntary.”
- “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”
- “The cat, having sat upon a hot stove lid, will not sit upon a hot stove lid again. But he won't sit upon a cold stove lid, either.”
- “Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most.”