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Adoption by Design
Dr Amelia Mosquera-Pardo Change and Adoption Lead Consultant | October 29, 2020
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Providing your employees with the latest cloud collaboration tools is, by itself, unlikely to result in the tools being used effectively, or collaboration actually happening. This is no different from the fact that having a snazzy tool set will not necessarily result in you actually fixing that wonky fence panel at the bottom of the yard.

So, let’s engage in a thought experiment and examine what would need to be in place for you to actually pick up your tools and use them to fix the fence.

First, you would need to know that the fence needs fixing. If you don’t go out to the yard much, you would not be aware of it, and would need an external agency to bring it to your attention. This could be someone—your partner, child, housemate or even a neighbour; or an event—the dog or a kid getting out through the gap.

Once you know about the wonky panel, that does not mean you will immediately get with the programme and fix it. I mean, we all have long ‘to do’ lists that just sit there unattended, sometimes for months, if not years. There needs to be a trigger to motivate you to get off the sofa and actually want to do it.

The trigger could be a complaint from a neighbour, or worrying that the council might fine you for a bylaw violation—a negative outcome trigger. Or it could be the realisation that fixing the panel means you could allow the dog and/or the kids to play in the yard without worrying about them getting out, and maybe get some work done without interruptions—a positive outcome trigger.

Now you know about the wonky panel and you are motivated to fix it, the next thing to consider is whether you have the skills/confidence to do it. And if you don’t, whether you can find a way to acquire them—getting a fence-repair guide, looking it up on YouTube, or maybe asking that mate who is a DIY whizz to give you some tips.

Right, then. You are willing and able. But do you have the right tools? Is it too hot, too cold, raining or windy? Do you have the right PPE? Can you keep the kids and the dog inside while you are working on the panel so they are not in the way? No matter how able and willing you are, if the conditions aren’t right, that fence isn’t getting fixed.

Let’s say the fates are on your side, and you finally get the wonky panel back the way it should be (happy days!). Chances are you would want to monitor the fence for a while, to make sure that the repairs worked, and the panel doesn’t come undone again—and to get on it pronto if it does, before it becomes an issue again.

Keep this thought experiment in mind when you are planning your next technology transformation project and trying to work out how you are going to build adoption into it.

Keep this thought experiment in mind when you are planning your next technology transformation project

Some of the questions you will need to answer to achieve effective adoption and embedding of the new ways of working introduced by your transformation include:

  • How will you let people know this new technology/service is being rolled out, in a way that is meaningful for them and their work context?
  • What are the positive triggers—what will they be able to do better, faster, easier, more collaboratively, more agilely? how does this support better client/organisation outcomes?
  • What are the negative triggers—what will be the consequences for them/their team/their clients/the organisation if they don’t use the new technology or adopt the new ways of working it enables?
  • What needs to be in place to develop their ability/confidence in using the new tool—training, peer support, how-to guides, help desk?
  • What workplace enablers are needed to support adoption—management practices, policies, processes?
  • How will you monitor and reinforce adoption—metrics, feedback, ongoing support, continual improvement?

During the inception and planning phases of your transformation you can then use the answers to these questions to help you design and plan appropriate interventions to support adoption, and identify the time and resources you will need for their implementation.

And to be effective your adoption plan needs to be iterative, taking into account, and adapting to, the differing—and evolving—needs, preferences, motivators and work context of the workforce throughout the programme’s lifecycle.

This is how you achieve adoption by design—not by accident.