Mark Twain’s User Adoption Lessons, Part Three


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This is the third in a five part series. Start at the beginning here.


As I mentioned I told you how I recently I came across a page of Mark Twain quotes and in reading them I realized that the insights and teachings of a man who died decades before modern information systems were even conceived may hold some of the greatest lessons for how to deliver successful technology adoption programs.

So in this third installment of our look at Mark’s words in relation to communication as it relates to IT user adoption programs.

When examined in the context of various aspects of effective user adoption programs, Mark shows us some of the common mistakes and misplaced assumptions that often plague many IT projects.

As I’m asking throughout this series, how can you use Mark’s insights to deliver a more effective user adoption program?


Communication is indeed critical to effective user adoption. Unfortunately, many people assume that effective communication is the same as advertising the right message. We have found that many communication efforts actually deliver more harm than good. Why? Typically because people speak more than they listen! Also, when they speak, they talk about what is important to them, and not what is meaningful to the audience.

Effective user adoption communication requires that you listen more than you speak. Whenever possible (which is often), ask a question instead of making a statement. Use language that is meaningful to your audience. And remember that “listening is not waiting to speak”.


  • “The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it.”

  • “There is nothing so annoying as to have two people talking when you’re busy interrupting.”

  • “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

  • “In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French; I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their own language.”

  • “Do not tell fish stories where the people know you; but particularly, don’t tell them where they know the fish.”

  • “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.”

  • “When in doubt, tell the truth.”

How is communication helping or hindering your IT project? Take our free assessment to start finding out.

Or, contact us to learn more.

< < Part One – Introduction and User Adoption Strategy

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jason Whitehead
Jason Whitehead is CEO of Tri Tuns, LLC, an organizational effectiveness consultancy specializing in driving and sustaining effective user adoption of IT systems. He works at the intersection of technology, process, culture and people to help clients actually achieved measurable business benefits from their technology investments.


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