So you’ve built it, how do you get people to use the new collaboration solution? User Adoption Strategies by Michael Sampson

User adoption strategies for collaboration solutions

Even if users are involved in every aspect of your new collaboration solution, there is no guarantee that the solution will be instantly adopted.  Successful collaboration solutions have an explicit plan for user adoption and if you are looking for some great, practical ideas on how to get started, look no further than Michael Sampson's latest book: User Adoption Strategies - Shifting Second Wave People to New Collaboration Technology.

Michael is a prolific author and "collaboration strategist" based in New Zealand.  In his latest book, Michael defines a 4-stage roadmap for user adoption and, backed with survey data and the results of interviews and extensive research, he describes successful strategies for ensuring that your new collaboration solution delivers the intended value.  I've used many of the techniques he suggests in my consulting practice and at companies where I've been responsible for deploying collaboration solutions.  While each strategy works in some contexts, you wouldn't necessarily use them all together at the same organization or for the same solution. The book includes all the ingredients for success but it is not intended to be a cookbook - you are still responsible for creating the recipe that will work for your solution in your organization.  Michael helps you decide which strategy to use because for each recommendation, he includes a discussion of how to use it, when to use it, and why it works.

One of the most re-usable suggestions in Michael's book (meaning it pretty much applies in all situations) is the recommendation that you create a formal, written user adoption plan.  Michael defines three important benefits to having a written plan:

  • It makes you think.  I really like this reason.  If you know you have to produce a written deliverable, you know you will have to carefully think about what you are going to do.  This is important.  The least successful user adoption strategy I've seen for SharePoint solutions is one I call: "throw it over the fence and see what happens."  Even without reading Michael's book, you can probably imagine why this strategy is pretty much doomed. The sad thing is that I've actually seen it "applied" in several organizations.  (This strategy, however, has been very good for my consulting practice - I've had several terrific engagements where I've been hired to come in and "fix" solutions that have been deployed using this approach.  Perhaps I should change my recommendation to "Go ahead, try this one.  Call me when it fails.")
  • It gives you something to share.  When you have a written plan, you have a document that you can review with others.  More review means more ideas.  More ideas mean more people are engaged.  More engagement results in greater user adoption.
  • It involves other people. When you include more than one people in the creation of the plan, you demonstrate that there is support for the plan - even before it is deployed.  Including senior level executives in the planning (and deployment) process adds merit and influence to your plan and as stated earlier, engaging more people in the process helps ensure success.

User Adoption Strategies is well written and engaging, though I sometimes struggled with the New Zealand vs. U.S. terminology! J Most importantly, the book is very practical and includes literally hundreds of ideas that you can definitely try at home!

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