Crossing The Chasm

With Any New Innovation, Adoption Is Key

Human beings are, by nature, wary of change. It’s a deep-rooted bias that has harks from ancient times when being the one who said: “I wonder if this Yak omelette would taste any better with a cyanide garnish” was a reminder for the village that perhaps plain old Yak was best.

When an organisation looks to deploy a new system or way of working, it’s natural for many to defer to their inner voice that worries things will be worse because it’s different. The mental process happens in a millisecond and most people are unaware it’s happened:

  • It’s different, thus it presents a threat to my understood environment
  • It’s a threat to my understood environment and therefore I should reject it
  • I’ve rejected it which removes the difference and returns me to my norm

However, as our businesses and systems evolve, the advance of improving technology and process will bring change more readily and produce better outcomes. The challenge, therefore, is how we help those using the systems to see the benefits and evolve too.

“Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it.”

Winston Churchill.

It’s a common misconception that deployment of a new system brings hurdles rather than opportunities. Whether it’s an iterative but substantial upgrade of an existing piece of technology or a new implementation the things that are different can be seen as roadblocks which makes uptake difficult.

You may be familiar with the classic Everett Rogers “Diffusion of Innovations” model from his 1962 work which looked at how new ideas and tech spread. It looks like this:

Look familiar? You’ve likely come across it before in some form. Now let’s introduce what’s known as the S-Curve, which indicates that the adoption of an innovation follows an S curve when plotted over a length of time.

Geoffrey Moore subsequently introduced the term “Crossing the Chasm” noting that if we fail to cross the chasm at the critical mass point, we can expect a much smaller market share in worse market conditions.

Going Beyond The Chasm

Your staff, clients, customers, suppliers and anyone else who is part of a multi-touchpoint customer journey, both internally and externally, are part of the change and need to be considered.

The opportunity is to identify where the pushback may happen and reframe any perceived problems as a chance to celebrate the fantastic previous work, and the enhanced value the new system will bring.

Let’s look at some common concerns and some tips on how to overcome them.

Problem: It’s All Different!

This will likely be the biggest thing you hear from all sides quite vocally as a general catch-all for the concerns. What was known is now unknown.

Solution: Lead In and Make Gradual Change

Giving your users plenty of notice that change is coming prevents the shock value occurring when the system goes live. For your internal staff, it’s important to train them in advance and let them have some input into the functionality.

For your customers/clients or suppliers, let them know that you’d prefer them to try it out first with some easy-to-understand guidance or documentation, but you will listen to (but can’t guarantee) feedback around changes or adjustments.

Remove the surprise of something new, and keep changes initially to the minimum you can operate with to prevent cognitive overload. You can roll out new features slowly and steadily once people are used to the basics.

Problem: I Have To Do a Lot of New Work!

Fundamentally, there’s no getting away from the fact that any form of change will involve effort, time and application to learn something new.

Solution: Recognise and Reward

Look for ways to acknowledge and thank everyone involved in the process. For staff, this might be some additional perks you can offer alongside public thanks for the extra effort. For clients, this might involve early access to a new product or service, or even a one time discount on costs. For suppliers, this might be an invitation to a private dinner or promoting them to a “VIP” supplier level with additional support.

Problem: I Could Do It; Can I Now Do It?

Competence, control and autonomy have now been challenged for something new and uncertainty prevails.

Solution: Give Ownership and Training

Start with ensuring for all parties the basics are in place. Explain clearly and concisely how the new system works but also ensure it’s clear that the work or contributions they made from the old system have always been highly valued and have directly contributed to this positive step forward.

Empower everyone with being part of the change, acknowledge their value both now and in the past and ensure they understand the adoption of an innovative new system fundamentally relies on the fantastic staff, clients and suppliers you have.

Lastly, make sure you actively listen. No system is perfect at launch and every business is unique. Hear those who use the system day in, day out and ensure you continuously correct the course to achieve maximum uptake.