Monday, May 28, 2012

Learning to adopt

The success of a new collaboration implementation is largely dependent on the extent to which it is adopted within an organisation. Introducing a new way of working is always going to involve a certain amount of discomfort for users as the organisation gets used to a change but there are ways to make this part of the experience easier. Incorporating learning principles into the adoption strategy can help users get comfortable with change faster.
Resistance to the new doesn’t always mean the technology is a failure for the organisation, it could simply be a misunderstanding of the purpose. Of course, the purpose may be well defined for the project team, but it’s not the user’s responsibility to figure it out for themselves. While communications teams are well aware that simply communicating a message without consideration for the way in which it’s delivered only gets the job half done, software implementations are frequently lacking effective communication of purpose.
When it comes to encouraging adoption and collaboration, we can go one step further. Learning styles can be a great way of approaching an adoption strategy – identifying how your user group prefers to learn and then adapting the strategy to meet the particular needs of those groups can help get users through the learning curve earlier and faster:
  • If a group of users learn best by early use and testing features that interest them, give them access early to increase their comfort levels. They will be an asset to your adoption strategy in the long run by joining other early adopters like the project team.
  • Give people who prefer to learn by observing access to the space to watch and learn from others. Observers will eventually start talking about their learning and this may take place somewhere others who haven’t yet adopted the technology can hear about positive experiences and useful features.
  • Create a space either within or outside the technology itself for users to discuss their experiences with it (i.e. a conversation backchannel). Creating this space is a good way to identify another group of learners – those who like to talk about their experiences and have conversations with others.
  • Participating in the backchannel in a non-intrusive, positive way is key to bringing these two groups (those who discuss and those who observe, together) to the point of adoption.
Enabling and integrating learning preferences into the adoption strategy in social, open, and collaborative ways is essential to them being a successful factor in the adoption process. Being social is nuanced and everyone has their preferences. The same goes for learning. Using learning strategies to enable changes in behaviour can be supported by identifying preferences of the groups of people you’re engaging with – those preferences are the first step towards making the adoption strategy a success.
Post originally appeared on the Headshift Australia blog