The 1 v. 9 Rule

Gettysburg Battlefield Monument

Have you ever implemented a technology for an enterprise that had the chicken and egg syndrome? You know the type. You implement a valuable technology but no one is using the technology. As you analyze why this might happen, you realize that you need people to use the tool, but the value is not there until you have a large number of people using the tool. Which should come first? The people or the tool? How do you get people to change behavior, adopt a tool, adapt the way they work when you realize that to really have change, you need a large number of people to change almost all at once?

I have seen this situation more than once. You have a small set of people dispersed throughout the enterprise that is interested in the technology. You think you have won the battle because interest is high from these advocates. But if you peel away the edges, you would see that while they are excited and are some of the biggest advocates for the technology and while they each represent a team that could use the technology to great effectiveness and the technology has potential to realize get value within the team, there is an issue.

This is a big issue. The rest of the team is not aware of the value, they don’t see the need for the tool and they provide every excuse under the sun for why not to use the tool. I like to call this the 1 vs 9 rule. You have one person that is ready and eager to adopt, adapt, and use the technology but you have 9 people (2 through 10) that are not. More often than not, this is one of the biggest reasons a technology like this fails. It is not about the implementation of the technology, it is about the change management.

As the person in charge of the technology and responsible for enterprise adoption and change management related to the technology, what do you do? This is not a time to give up and fail. What techniques could you use to get #2 through #10 to adopt the tool along side of #1.

Here are some ideas.

  1. You are not alone: Seems simple enough but this is often the first step that people forget. You need to get the advocates, the 1’s, to help in driving the adoption of their team. One team at a time. While you are responsible for change management and adoption, you are not alone. The #1’s need to know what is expected of them and need to know that it will not be easy.
  2. Build a play book: Now that you have set the expectation you need to provide the techniques and tools that the #1s will use to get 2 through 10 engaged. Depending on the technology being implemented, these tips and techniques could include having them set expectations to the team, have them get their own advocates within the team, and have them remind (nag or ankle bite) the team periodically.
  3. Lower management: Work with the first line of management of that team. Get them to understand where the value is and then get them to help drive adoption within the team. Have them set expectations for their team, but don’t let them mandate, that type of technique could backfire. Do this in conjunction with the advocate of the technology. They can help sell the story.

The hope is that you can do this over and over again with each group until you have critical mass in the enterprise using the technology effectively. Think of the first group as the keystone, that the rest can use as an example or template of how to drive adoption in their teams.

While I write these words into this blog, I know that I have not done justice to all of the ideas others have used to drive adoption of 2 through 10. What techniques, tricks, and methods do you use to drive this type of adoption? What has worked for you?

(Cross post from zag.zig.us)

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