Don’t just build it and throw it out there!

That is one of the most important messages from Michael Sampson in his most recent book “User Adoption Strategies – Shifting 2nd wave people to new collaboration technologies“. This is the first time I read one of Michael’s books and since he calls himself @collabguy on Twitter I have to say that my expectations were rather high….

….and I can now honestly say that I have not been disappointed!

The book provides a comprehensive toolkit which you can put to good use when you need to get users to use the new stuff you have developed. Obviously the book is centered around online tools, but most of the approaches work equally well with many other kinds of projects as well – and not only things online. Michael outlines 20 different approaches for you to pick and choose from because as he says already on page 14 “Don’t do them all, and don’t wait until page 105 before figuring that out!”

The initial chapters focus on adoption and change in a more general perspective and provides a nice introduction. One thing that becomes increasingly clear after reading this is that change is not about tools and methods – Change is social! If you can’t get enough on board there’s really no point! This brings us back to the “How?” and the 20 approaches.

They have been divided into 4 stages which are somewhat linear. Most of them are complemented with survey results from Michael’s recent user adoption survey which gives a nice picture of what others do and what actually works. Here are the headers and my own brief interpretation (more details in the book – obviously):

1) Win Attention = Make sure to get lots of attention, and most importantly from the right people!

2) Cultivate Basic Concepts = Educate people on the basics of the new system

3) Enlivening Applicability = Make people comfortable with the new system

4) Make it Real! = Get it done! Make it a part of daily lives.

If I should point at one small thing that I miss, it would be some kind of quick overview of the 20 approaches for quick reference after you have read the book.

All in all Michael has written a book for everyone who is working with change management and adoption – particularly in the online realm. Whether you are an experienced change agent or you are coming to terms with your first project, I’m sure that you will find a lot of useful tips and strategic approaches, and that you’ll find yourself reaching for it again and again.

Some may say that parts of the book seem an awful lot like plain, common sense, but isn’t that often what makes a book truly great? As French philosopher Voltaire put it: “It may be common sense, but after all sense is not that common!”

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