Skip to main content

Digital Transformation

What If You Built It, and They Didn’t Come?

Field of Dreams

Most, if not all, of us have seen the movie Field of Dreams starring Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones, and others.  In the movie, Ray Kinsella, an Iowa farmer, hears a voice whispering, “If you build it, they will come,” a calling to plow his all-important corn crop to build a baseball diamond in the middle of nowhere, which is ultimately inhabited by the 1919 Chicago Black Sox, including his father.

In the movie, Ray blindly follows the voice and subsequent visions and is rewarded with a reality beyond comprehension.  It’s certainly a feel good story, and one that is worth two hours of your time, if you haven’t seen it.

pablo (2)Unfortunately, business doesn’t work that way, and particularly technology initiatives.  Just because we build a great new system doesn’t mean that we’ll be rewarded with everything we dreamed it would do and provide.  Why not?  In full transparency, it’s not usually because the technology has failed, is error prone, or simply doesn’t work the way we thought it would.  No, it’s usually because we don’t get the user adoption that is required for the desired, or required, return on our investment (ROI).

Without user adoption, we don’t take advantage of all the system can do for us (not incidentally, those features probably were factored into the projected ROI calculation when the decision was made to invest in the system in the first place).  Sometimes, some of the users will adopt the new system, while others don’t, inviting all sorts of chaos and inefficiency into the culture.  And unfortunately, there are times where the system is simply not adopted at all, and users fail to move from the old platform.

Many studies have shown the frequency of project failures due to poor adoption.  In fact, perhaps the most famous was performed by IBM’s Global Services unit several years ago that two-thirds (yes, two-thirds!) of all projects fail to meet their stated business objects. The biggest culprit – poor adoption.

In fairness to those project teams, adoption isn’t easy.  As humans, we don’t like change.  In full disclosure, most Change Management practitioners don’t like change.  Change is hard.  Change is uncomfortable.  And frankly, we just like the way it was, even if that wasn’t very good.

Getting user adoption takes a planned, intentional approach.  Getting adoption means investing in the people.  It’s more than “communication and training.” It’s about building trust.  It’s about listening.  It’s about helping users understand the value of the new product or service – for the company AND for them individually.

Change Management shouldn’t be an afterthought, and often it’s not cheap.  There are tools out there (Prosci has developed a wonderful ROI calculator) to quantify the value of Change Management for a given project. In the end, can you afford NOT to deploy a Change Management effort for an important project?  What if you built it, and they didn’t come?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

David Chapman

David is the General Manager for Perficient's Organizational Change Management practice, part of the Strategic Advisors Team. He has over twenty years of consulting experience and resides in Charlotte, North Carolina. Be sure to also check out David’s personal blog. It focuses on collaboratively building the breadth and depth of our collective change management knowledge based on insights and experiences shared to help one another grow.

More from this Author

Follow Us