A reader recently contacted me with an interesting question. He writes:

I am the IT department for a small business. My biggest day-to-day problem is driving adoption rates among my 20 users. Despite being given strong tools I find a lot of people want to continue using Outlook and Index Cards. Do you have any insight on what holds people back from learning and implementing new tools?

It's a great question, and I think it gets to the heart of a lot of our issues with technology.

Better is not the enemy of good.

People fear new technology and the fear giving up what they are comfortable with in exchange for the unknown.

My aunt has this saying that “better is the enemy of good”. While I totally disagree in most situations, it's that mentality that keeps her from adopting new technology.

It's also the type of negative attitude that will pretty much guarantee technology problems.

I feel your pain.

To my reader, I offered this advice:

I think the key to getting people to use a new tool is to “feel the users pain” in a way. Rather than just coming to them and saying “here's this new great thing and here's how you use it”, you could try talking to them about their challenges, frustrations, and what they are lookign for.

Then propose a solution with your new tools and connect the dots for them. Answer the question “how will this help me?”. You're never going to get everyone on board, but if you get a few passionate new users, that's a start, right?

Re-focus on the outcomes

You can actually employ the same technique above on yourself. The next time you're getting ready to try something new, rather than focusing on all the things that could possibly go wrong, and the reasons why upgrading/installing/trying will be a debacle, you re-focus on the positive outcome you're looking for.

Ask yourself:

  • What is the ideal outcome of using this new thing?
  • What problem will this solve?
  • How will my life or work be different when I put this in place?
  • What will I get out of this?

Then, as you move forward, whenever you start to think that “better is the enemy of good”, think back to the positive outcomes that you've defined.

Your turn: What prevents you from adopting new technology that you KNOW will help you out? How did you move past it?

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