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Leveraging the ABCs of change to facilitate end-user adoption

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Leveraging the ABCs of change to facilitate end-user adoption

Written by Modality Newsroom on 20, July 2016

Welcome back. In part 1 of my user adoption blog I discussed why end-user adoption of Skype for Business is so important.  In case you missed it, here are the three key points:

  1. Adoption is a process, not a point-in-time or a one-and-done. It's not about just sending an email with a link to training, nor will it happen overnight.
  2. Adoption comes as a result of changed behavior. Basically, CHANGE drives ADOPTION which results in ROI.
  3. Change is hard. Period. Think about it. How often do you follow through with New Year's resolutions or use that new gym membership? It's much easier to put it off or to fall back to your old routine.

Let's continue the discussion with some tips and anecdotes on how to implement a successful change strategy. Remember that change takes time, but by implementing and iterating readiness activities, you can both facilitate and support your users through the change, resulting in initial and sustained user adoption. By leveraging the ABCs of Change, you form a cohesive framework for managing change and facilitating adoption.


“For changes to be of any true value, they’ve got to be lasting and consistent.” 

- Tony Robbins

A = Acknowledge Change Early and Often

Rumors fly, people talk. As soon as users get wind that a new technology is coming, they will start discussing it (or complaining about it) with their coworkers. Like the proverbial 'watercooler chat' these discussions may include some facts, but may likely be hearsay and opinions. Even more so, as the message trickles from coworker to coworker, it can take a life of its own. Did you ever play the telephone game when you were young, where one person whispered something in your ear, and you had to whisper it in another's ear and so on? By the time that message was received by the last person, it rarely even closely resembled what the initial message was.

This is why it is so critical for you to communicate the technology change early - and often. The word will get out, and you have a choice to control the message. It will be so much harder to reel in a rumor and change user opinions, than to just manage the message from day one. To alleviate any confusion, be sure to include the who, what, when, where, why and how of the change. Finally, be sure the message comes from the executive sponsor, not an IT alias which can seem less personal and easily be overlooked.

B = Build User Trust and Acceptance

One of the points I iterated in part 1 of this blog series was that change is always an option. You want to leverage a pull strategy to create user desire to change. This is what building trust is all about.  When a user understands WIIFM (what's in it for me), when they can relate to the change on a personal level and understand the value of the new technology, they are much more likely to adapt and adopt the change more quickly. By building trust early, you not only help prepare users for what's coming, you identify early adopters. These early adopters, in turn, become peer champions to help evangelize the change.

Here are a few tips for building user trust.

  • Tailor your messaging:  When you include use cases/user scenarios as part of the message, when you can relate the change impact to users on a personal level, that's when you create excitement and generate momentum. Otherwise, you may find yourself managing resistance instead of change. For optimal results, I recommend targeting a few user personas on both sides of the change curve (early adopters as well as resisters) as well as focusing on broad reach messaging and inclusion. I'll cover more on this in my next blog.
  • Implement inclusion activities. Whether it's a feedback loop, a Yammer group or focus group, listen to and accommodate users' needs into your plan. When users feel part of the conversation and decision, they are more likely to want to change.
  • Admit mistakes. This one can be hard to swallow for some, but it so important. If you had a bad experience with a prior implementation, acknowledge that things could've gone better and that you want user input and feedback. Opening the lines of communication is key to building user trust
C = Confirm Organizational and User Readiness

There is nothing worse than getting a new puppy only to realize you bought the wrong food, forgot to buy a dog bed and have no idea how to train them. You find yourself scrambling to adjust and correct course. Technology deployment is like that new puppy. It's exciting and rewarding, but before you just push Skype for Business to users' desktops, be sure you are ready. Lack of preparedness is one of the biggest barriers to a successful rollout of new technology.

Securing the right project team will ensure all core focus areas get addressed, as well as keep all teams in alignment. A few years ago, I worked with an organization who was rolling out Lync 2013 (predecessor to Skype for Business). We implemented a well thought-out awareness and training strategy and they confirmed they were ready..., except for one tiny bump. As we started delivering training, we quickly realized that users will still on Lync 2010. IT had not completed their deployment to the users we were training. It is so critical that all members of the project team stay in close alignment, map timelines and check-in. Do not assume that the other team leads have done their part, confirm they have.

As you assess readiness, put yourself in the end-users' shoes. While validating technical readiness is a key piece to your rollout, it is equally as important to validate users are ready. Conduct a user-focused pilot, phase your rollout to measure reception as you deploy and set a plan in motion to maintain momentum. As part of your readiness planning, be sure to validate your messaging, training resources and support readiness.

Wondering if an approach like this really works? Here is an example of two customers I guided through their rollout (blue team and orange team). The blue team was so excited about the deployment, they opted to not follow my recommendations and just go right to launch, while the orange team took the time to plan and prepare. With such a poor initial reception to change, the blue team was still working on rebuilding user trust and adoption 12 months later.


I hope you found this information helpful. Remember, driving change is a critical step in realizing true user adoption and ROI. It may not be rocket science, but pulling all of the pieces together for a comprehensive change strategy is crucial to maximize results. Watch out for Part III in the series of user-adoption blogs where I'll discuss: ‘What's In it for Me’ (WIIFM): Focusing on the Individual for Organizational Results.

If you are interested in getting started with your adoption and change management plan, Modality Systems offers a full spectrum of adoption services based on a proven framework and methodology. Whether you are starting a POC, planning for a full deployment, have already deployed but are not seeing results or simply want to maintain your usage and momentum, Modality Systems can tailor a program to meet your needs to help realize both rapid and sustained adoption of Skype for Business.

Debbie Arbeeny
Practice Lead – Adoption & Training
Modality Systems


Topics: Insight, Usage

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