Technology is rational, predictable, controllable. People aren’t.

This situation reminds me of those old movies we’ve all seen of people trying to fly in machines before the airplane was invented: machines that had flapping wings; machines that had big, circular, umbrella-like contraptions that moved up and down; machines that had four sets of wings, none of which was large enough to generate sufficient life… It didn’t matter how hard the pilots tried. It didn’t matter how imaginative or clever they were. It didn’t matter how good they were as people or how noble their aspirations were. There was nothing these pilots were going to do to make these inventions fly – because they were structurally incapable of flight. – Peter SengeWe have given you the tools... it's up to you to use them!

You flip a switch or program a piece of technology to do something, and it does it.

Technology is rational, predictable, controllable.

Technology doesn’t argue back.

Technology doesn’t need to be motivated.

You hand people a piece of technology and tell them to use it to do something, and more often than not they argue back. Or they say “sure” and then quietly continue doing things the way they’ve always done them and hope if they ignore it long enough it’ll eventually go away. Or they complain that they have no time, that it’s too hard, that it’s stupid, that it’s too much work, that it’s too slow, that it’s too <infinite variety of complaints here>. 

People are irrational, unpredictable, not receptive to being controlled.

People argue back.

People need to be motivated.

When you flip the switch to deploy a new technology within your organization, you’ve only turned on the technology. You can’t flip a switch to turn on people. People are creatures of habit. They need to be motivated. They need to be seduced. They need to believe what you believe.

Technology centric vs people centric

Achieving user adoption is the process of seducing people into discarding old behaviors and adopting new behaviors. Of nudging people away from their current way of feeling, thinking, and doing to a new way of feeling, thinking, and doing. Of converting them from an old system to a new one.

Deploying technology is a complex business change effort. And user adoption is the biggest challenge you’ll face in your change effort. Yet we’ve traditionally focused our efforts on the technology side of the deployment equation, spending 80% of our time and money on the technology.

Continuing to pour the bulk of our efforts into the technology is like continuing to look to for new ways to flap our wings faster. Instead, with 75-80% of the business value driven by invisible, so-called soft factors – use by people (Global CIO Report – Harnessing Information Value), isn’t it time to flip our focus from the technology to the people? After all, “the value of IT is not in ‘deploying it’ at all but in ‘using it’ and taking full advantage of it. IT brings value only when employees, clients and partners are able to use technology efficiently and improve their own performance. IT functions have the opportunity to create enhanced business value through improving the usage of these technologies, and most of all to get a strong return on their information assets.”

 Interested in learning more about approaches to flipping focus? Sign up for one of the full day workshops I’m facilitating at OpenText Content World:


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