Cratering Adoption Metrics – CollabTalk Q5

by | Feb 4, 2019 | Office 365 news, PACE approach

Christian Buckley from CollabTalk hosted a Tweetjam last week on The Keys to Employee Adoption and Engagement. There were seven questions asked of the panelists, and you can review their comments, discussion, fun and jibes on Twitter, at the hashtag #collabtalk.

Here’s my answers to three of Christian’s questions:

Here’s my answer to Question 5.

5. Many projects report high initial adoption rates, but see a rapid decrease in adoption over time. How do you reverse the trend?

If that situation is occurring, then knowing why it is happening is step one. For example, a rapid decrease in adoption could be caused by:

  • the project being completely irrelevant to the people is was intended to serve.
  • the adoption strategies you have used emphasised short-term and flashy, not long-run and transformational.
  • you haven’t allowed enough time for people to pivot and the adoption / effective usage rates to flow through.

Assuming you “still believe in the vision” (a line that’s used at Amazon when something doesn’t work the first or tenth time), there’s work to be done … depending on what the root cause is.

Root Cause #1 – Irrelevance

If the root cause is irrelevance, then reversing the trend requires completely rethinking what has been introduced and on what guiding principles. 

Was the project homed in the IT department and driven as an IT delivery project – new capabilities, it’s available, go for it? If yes, it’s a wild swing not a fit-for-purpose initiative. The entire project was poorly conceived; start again.

How did the project team (if there was one) gather / collect / understand / test the needs, opportunities and capabilities of the target people and teams? If this wasn’t done, then starting searching for answers. If it was done (and assuming it was done right), why the misalignment between pre-delivery needs and post-delivery rejection? You’ll have to ask to find out.

How clear is the alignment between the capabilities in the product and the day-to-day work flow and work practice approaches of the people and teams who are “supposed” to be using it? Is it an “every day” alignment, or does it address something that will happen much less infrequently? Low frequency of use could just reflect a reality that the capabilities aren’t needed everyday.

Root Cause #2 – Inappropriate

Selecting inappropriate user adoption strategies to create a long-term change will flounder. You won’t get the changes you are seeking, even though they might inflate your metrics in the short term. Balloons, mouse pads, posters in the elevators, floor roaming adoption specialists, an email blast to everyone that new capabilities are now available … and nothing else … will create an initial level of excitement that will burst as quickly as the balloon.

The longer term strategies are aligning the offerings with the work people and teams do, equipping and empowering managers / executives / in-the-trenches champions to create change habits that endure over time, and an internal user group that offers an opportunity for people and teams to share stories of success, look at what is and isn’t working, and better integrate the new offerings into how work gets done. And others like them. These take time and investment, but if the new offerings are going to have a long-term impact, are core and central.

If you’re only doing the short-term and flashy, then the adoption metrics you’ll get will be a flash in the pan.

Root Cause #3 – Impatience

Shiny objects catch eyes, and drive short-term behaviour. Longer term behaviour change requires more than just shiny and latest and new, and if there is a real need for the product that’s been introduced, if there are several people and teams who have latched onto the new offerings and are starting to see a transformation in the way they work and the outcomes they are gaining, then be more patient for the metrics to catch up with the reality. And for the transformation that’s starting slow to spread more broadly across your organisation.

While you are practicing patience, do one or more of the following:

– track the metrics on which people and teams are making good use of the offerings.

– continue (start?) a dialogue with these people and teams, in order to understand what is working for them.

– start to share around the stories of success and value that these people and teams are gaining. An internal newsletter, an internal user group, a series of brown bag lunches … that kind of thing.

– provide resources to equip and empower people to take the learnings from one team to another team, as they naturally move around the organisation and are involved in different activities. This could be a great time to start an internal champions network.

Reversal – Net-Net

Step one is to figure out why.

Step two … take the appropriate action based on what you learn.

Step two point five … we’d love to help.