Minimising the failure rate of user adoption

Image: user adoption in the workplace
By Linda Parkinson-Hardman on

I recently read an article in EDGE, the journal of the Institute of Leadership and Management, by Vlatka Hlupic, the author of The Management Shift and Humane Capital. In the article she discusses eight simple principles for leaders that develop more human centred organisations. 

What is interesting is that these principles have been shown to improve productivity and increase profit, even though they focus on improving the work life quality of people. The message I took away is clear, by focusing on people and their needs, the organisation itself benefits. 

As I read, I couldn’t help thinking that this is the same adoption approach we use to help the organisations we work with. And, I know from experience that the failure of most technology led transformation projects is almost always down to not understanding that it’s not about the technology, instead it’s about the people. 

The 8 principles Vlatka advocates are: 

  1. Mindset; 
  2. Motivation; 
  3. Higher Purpose; 
  4. Aligning with values; 
  5. Organisational design around people AND systems; 
  6. Individual and community self-organisation; 
  7. Caring ethos; 
  8. Organisational learning processes. 

Office 365 has a set of unique workloads that work seamlessly together to create a fully immersive experience for staff, allowing them to be productive and reducing the friction that comes from frequent switching between applications and tasks. This helps to develop an individual and organisational mindset that is collaborative and based in trust. Where collaborative working breaks down is when governance prevents the formation of groups and teams around knowledge and need rather than function. 

By using Microsoft Teams and Yammer to share their knowledge and experience, people have a voice into the wider organisation to share thoughts and ideas they may never have felt safe to share before. However, the converse of this is when someone is told they are banned from sharing updates because what they say is ‘wrong’ in some way. Personally, I believe that if people share their opinions respectfully and with the awareness that it’s OK for others to disagree, then any opinion is as valid as any other. 

Your staff are focused on serving the needs of their customers, whether internally or externally.  Therefore, your organisation needs to help them do so with the minimum of fuss. By offering a platform that helps them minimise the decision pathways or have the information they need easily to hand means that their values and purpose will more closely align with the organisation’s. Depression and frustration occur when staff are unable to do what they need to because of perceived red-tape or time-consuming processes that appear to add little value to the outcome being sought. 

Humans naturally form communities of interest; the most common organisational community is the functional team which has contributed significantly to the siloed way of thinking and working experienced in business today. Team A not knowing what Team B is doing is, unfortunately all too frequent, resulting in a duplication of effort with differing outputs. 

By allowing people to self-organise around the projects and topics they are working on and making those visible to the whole organisation means there is less likelihood of replication and a greater chance of the right minds coming together to solve the problem or deliver the product. 

However, these systems are all very well, but if they are simply enabled without a thought for the staff who may or may not use them, then the likelihood is that the return on your investment won’t be as great as you hope. Lack of knowledge or understanding around technology is one of the greatest sources of stress for many people, a caring organisation ensures that this type of stress is minimised by making learning opportunities available at the point of need, rather than pre-arranged times. 

Recognising that the need for new knowledge is the new norm in your organisation ensures that, as a responsible employer, you give staff the time they need to adapt and learn as the Office 365 product suite matures and develops. An hour a week here, a half day there, giving staff time to develop allows them to become confident searcher for the answer to their tech query, rather than passive consumer of the support desk. 

And by distributing knowledge throughout an organisation through influential individuals and groups, savvy organisations can maximise the storytelling opportunities that help learning move along in more organic ways, further improving both the mindset and motivation of employees. 

It only takes a few clicks of the mouse and a credit card to enable Office 365 for an organisation. Every member of staff can be up and running with the minimal amount of time and technical knowhow. The ease of deployment implies that persuading people to use the suite is easy too; and that’s where it can easily start to go wrong. However, by focusing on developing a human centred deployment, you will get it right faster and reap the rewards sooner. 

What next for user adoption?

We have an upcoming webinar on 24th September on Successful O365 user adoption with the use of the ADKAR model so be sure to register to hear me live in action! We also have a user adoption seminar on 16th October. Please be aware that this seminar is exclusively for those in organisations that are responsible for business transformation, strategy, change and/or Office 365 roll-out, and are decision makers within their organisation. Please note that only 2 people per organisation can register as we are limiting this exclusive workshop to just 20 spaces.

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