blog.frederique.harmsze.nl my world of work and user experiences

November 30, 2021

ADKAR: are our users ready to adopt our solutions?

Filed under: Adoption — Tags: , — frederique @ 19:17

IT creates and launches technical solutions that could make the lives of the users a lot easier. But even if these technical solutions are brilliant, we will not achieve anything, if the proposed users do not adopt them. We will only reap the benefits we were aiming for, if the users embrace it. In short: if they are aware of it, if they desire it, if they know how to use it in theory, if they are really able to use it in practice and if their changed way of working is reinforced so that they keep using it.

It not just me saying this: it is the ADKAR model developed as a foundational part of the world-class Prosci Methodology for change. The ADKAR model applies to all kinds of changes, including digital transformation. And – in a lot of the projects I have done – to the new way of working that is introduced with new tooling like Microsoft 365.

The basis of this model is the realization that you will only achieve the required change in your organization and reap the benefits of the new technology that you are introducing, if the people make the change and adopt it. Not just the abstract notion of ‘the users’, but the actual people. The individuals who may have very different characteristics, needs and experiences from the idealized picture of the end-user IT had in mind when they developed the solution.

Let us take a look at the stages that the people have to move through before they can make the change and adopt the solution.

Awareness

First of all, the people need to be aware of the proposed change. Otherwise, they can never use the new solution to adopt the new way of working, for example. Not only should they be made aware of what is planned, but also why: why is that new way of working a good idea anyway?

To create this awareness, communication is key. Not just one news article on the intranet, but thorough communication tailored to reach people with different preferences and repeated often enough in different ways to “stick”. To maximize impact, a high-level sponsor should be the one telling this story.

Desire

Once the people know about the change, they need to understand what’s in it for them, so that they desire the new way of working for themselves. Or at least decide that they will go along with it. If they refuse, we won’t get any further.

To help the people understand what the change means for them and what’s in it for them, it works best if their managers are involved. Or team leads, senior colleagues close to them.

Knowledge

Once the people have decided that they want the change, they are open to learn about the details of the ‘how’. If the people have no desire to adopt the new way of working, for example, it is no use sending them to a training session.

To help the people gain knowledge about the change, the new way of working, the project should provide things like training and help materials.

Ability

When the people have been trained in, for example, the new way of working, they know what to do. At least in theory. But are they also able to start working in the new way in practice? Or is it more difficult to apply that knowledge in their own situation? Does it work on their device? Do they have the right account with the right permissions? Can their network handle the load?

To make sure the people are actually able to make the change, great support is key. If the users get stuck, they should be supported effectively and efficiently. And the issues that may be blocking them in real life may be unexpected, so you need to be on top of it.

Reinforcement

When the people are able to work in the new way, they have made the change, the next question is: will they keep doing it? Or will they fall back to their old, familiar way of working, as soon as they hit the slightest snag? If they don’t keep it up, the benefits of the new solution and the change will be short lived.

To help people stick with the new way of working, reinforce the change. Don’t stop the project the day after Go Live. Make sure the owners who will manage the new solution can sustain the change. Monitor usage of the new tools, which should have increases, and usage of the old tools, which should be disappearing. Actively ask for feedback and make sure everyone can easily give feedback whenever they want, for example via an ambassadors network.

The ADKAR is a great model to manage change. I even like it as a checklist for relatively simple things like the introduction of a Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways portal. Are people aware of its existence or how shall we make sure they hear about it? Is it clear what’s in it for them? Do they know how to use it or do we need to explain more? Are they really able to use it, or is it impossible to find, impossible to access or impossible to use on their devices? How do we reinforce the portal’s usage, by keeping it relevant and tying it into related initiatives? A recent example: when HR sent another message about working from home, they linked to the Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways playlists about online communication.

So I like it!

1 Comment

  1. […] All the people will have the necessary Awareness, Desire, Knowledge and Ability to adopt the tool. And they will also be Reinforced to keep up the change, without reverting back to the old way of working. See the previous post about ADKAR. […]

    Pingback by Why help users change and adopt new technical solutions? « blog.frederique.harmsze.nl — December 30, 2021 @ 20:46

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