5 Practical Approaches to Improve Technology Adoption

05-21-2019 02:03 PM
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Esri Contributor

Planning a new technology deployment that will impact how people perform their work? Here are five ways to influence adoption.

In consultations with Esri customers, I have met many GIS managers and senior management who feel the Esri technology they already have could be used in new ways to solve business challenges. Their challenge is figuring out how to influence large groups of people to adopt geospatial tools—in other words, figuring out how to get people to change.  

Through these customer engagements and research, I’ve honed in on five practical change management activities that help increase technology acceptance and use. The five activities are not coordinated steps in a process. Together they are powerful, but each on its own can lead to increased adoption. Try one or more—you may find a difference maker.

1.    Integrate a people plan into the project plan.


Adding people-focused change management to a project plan helps ensure these activities do not get moved to a later phase. If that procrastination occurs, there is a high likelihood that impacted managers and their team members will not be eager to adopt the new technology when it is deployed. 

Work with the project’s primary sponsor to identify the groups that will be impacted and the people who represent those groups (line of business managers, supervisors, etc.). You will need to make a concerted effort to engage and support frontline managers so they will embrace the change and in turn, help their team members embrace the change. 

This is also the time to identify the impact of the change. How many groups? How many individuals? How much will established workflows change? Scale the people-focused change effort to match the impact.

Including change management in a project plan can make it easier to gain executive sponsorship. The executive’s role is to influence large groups of people toward a common goal. When you include people activities into a technology project plan, executives are more likely to be confident in supporting your effort over time. Their days are full and they are always seeking to support the right activities.

2.    Start detailed planning on day 1.


In a lot of technology implementations, people-oriented tasks are scheduled at the end of the project. This delay creates a challenge for employees who are expected to do something differently right after the technology releases. To accelerate adoption, spend time planning change management activities during the project planning and design phase.

Many activities will start later in the project timeline, but planning ahead simplifies change management execution prior to, during, and after the release. You will give yourself the time needed to craft a robust plan (and adjust it as needed) to help impacted managers accept the change and make sure they have the knowledge needed to support their team members by the go-live date.

The ultimate goal is to build excitement around the new solution and make sure impacted employees are eager to start using it on release day 1.

3.    Focus on the 80%.


With most change efforts, there are three groups of people: doers, tryers, and doubters. Just like a traditional bell curve, there are only a few doers and a few doubters. The majority fall into the tryer category. Focus change management activities around this group.

Tryers are usually ambivalent to change. If you make it easy for them to move towards your future state, they will move.

Work with managers and supervisors to engage tryers and cement new workflows into everyday activities. Once convinced that the change is positive, tryers will join the doers and you will see high adoption. 

Many believe that moving doubters to doers results in complete adoption. In theory that’s true, but it’s hard to change doubter mindsets. A good compromise is to focus on one or two key influencers in the doubter group and make their experience with the new technology great. Once influential doubters become doers, they often become valuable advocates. 

4.    Gamify change.


In their book, The 4 Disciplines of Execution (McChesney, Covey and Huling), the authors share three actions that help compel people to participate in achieving a goal: 

  • Create an engaging goal.
  • Track goal progress using lead metrics.
  • Give people purposeful actions, and they will strive forward.

A goal is engaging when it clearly communicates both the business perspective and the benefits individual team members will get from achieving it.

To effectively track an engaging goal, focus on “lead metrics.” Simply put, there are lead and lag metrics. Lag metrics measure the final outcome, while lead metrics measure progress toward the final outcome.

For example, if you want to lose weight, your lag metric may be to lose 5 pounds. Lead metrics could be reducing your calorie consumption by 300 calories per day or exercising 30 minutes, three days per week. Each lead metric moves you toward the final outcome. 

For technology adoption a lag measure could be the number of active users. It could also be something qualitative; for example, managers report their employees are more engaged in the work they do every day, which can increase retention.

For an ArcGIS deployment, lead measures could be the number of story maps that are created or used during presentations, the number of new people who view a map, or perhaps the number of times employees use a spatial analysis tool to improve their decisions.

If you can, create a scoreboard that everyone can see and use it as a motivational tool to move the lead metrics higher. 

5.    Be a passionate futurist.


Effective change leaders are focused on helping people adopt new technology to create a better future for the organization and themselves. Launch a change effort by creating a story that paints a clear and exciting picture of the future—and tell that story often to anyone who will listen.

When you can, let people describe the future for themselves. For example, ask team members how eliminating paper-based workflows will free up their time for other work. The more they talk about how using new technology will benefit them in the future, the more the future becomes a place they want to be.

Leading change requires you to do more than repeat talking points. People can sense a lackluster effort and that can negatively affect their view of the change that’s occurring.

When you demonstrate real enthusiasm for the benefits the new technology will bring, you are helping to create a brighter future that everyone will look forward to. Genuine excitement is contagious.


What activities have you found most helpful to increase technology adoption?

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1 Reply
New Contributor III

Technology updates are nothing new, but adopting new workflows is often a challenge. To be most efficient, we must quickly adopt and change. The post allowed me to see how I can improve in the areas below, thanks Michael Green

  1. Focus on the tryers -- I've always focused on the "hard nuts to crack" first. 
  2. Ask team members how eliminating paper-based workflows will free up their time for other work. --- This will challenge my assumptions and involve more people in the process of creating appropriate lead metrics.
  3. Gamify the change --- This could grow transparency of the adoption and change.