Michael Sampson, User Adoption and the Formula for Success


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As ‘user adoption’ is becoming a better-known aspect of IT implementations one thought leader in particular stands out. And one of the things we at Tri Tuns love about Michael Sampson is his distinct ability to distill the complexities of user adoption into an easily understood and digested reasoned process.

While Michael specifically centers his work on collaboration technologies such as SharePoint, in a recent two-part SlideShare presentation he walks the viewer through the larger concepts surrounding user adoption by beginning with a discussion around the idea that “great technology is not enough” but is just “a small factor in success.”

90% People, 10% Technology

To underscore his point, Michael brings up research done in the 1990s – the findings of which mirror our experiences since the 90s. The study Michael cites found that a major theme, the formula for success was, in this case when building virtual teams, “90% people, 10% technology”.

That is, even 15-20 years ago we had the data showing us the need to focus on the people – that is, the business drivers, the team culture, social patterns and interdependencies, etc. and focusing too much on the technology was a perfect way to set yourself up for failure.

Of course, however, the goal in business isn’t so much to avoid failure, but to create success and maximize the value of what your organization does. And technology is merely the tool your people and your teams use to generate success and build value.

Michael Sampson continues the presentation emphasizing ensuring people adopt the company’s technological tool(s) to create value doesn’t just happen – it’s made to happen. There is focus, effort, infrastructure and, perhaps most importantly, an adoption strategy.

Don’t Assume 100% User Adoption in Your Business Case

Incorporating an idea Tri Tuns also raises frequently, Michael points out business cases assume 100% adoption. This assumption is a mistake on multiple levels and is one that can heavily skew ROI and IRR projections so they look a lot better on paper than they ever will in reality.

“Poor adoption is a common issue,” Michael says and it’s “a process, not an event.” He goes on to outline a four-step model of user adoption that includes Winning Attention, Cultivating Basic Concepts, Enlivening Applicability, and Making it Real.

Throughout his presentation, he emphasizes that in most cases, vendors have done their part and that success at your organization is up to you. This makes ultimate sense when you think about the 90/10 rule of spending 90% of your time and effort on your people, and only 10% on the technology. After all, only you, not the vendor, is going to know your business drivers, your culture, your governance structure and institutional best practices that are in place to generate success and build value for your organization.

As always, Michael has a great presentation (check out part 2 for further illustration of user adoption successes and debacles through real-life examples) and we’re excited for him that his book, User Adoption Strategies is now in its 2nd edition! Be sure to pick up a copy and read Tri Tuns’ CEO Jason Whitehead‘s contribution, an expanded article based on a previous blog entry.

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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