Keep the focus on what’s in it for them
Getting the group to adopt new tech is a project. We get it. The luddites in the group are naturally suspicious of any new technology. Others think that if the old way is working well enough, why bother going to the fuss of putting new systems in place. The biggest obstacle to adopting new tech tend to be two-fold. One is a lack of urgency related to the “why fix what’s not REALLY broken?” attitude. The other is a lack of accountability during and after implementation. Without group commitment and consistent oversight it can be all too easy to slip back into what has historically been The Way We Do Things Around Here. The inertia of ‘the old way’ will undoubtedly be strong, particularly for groups that have a deep history. It’s the leaders job not only to find the new tool, but then to guide everyone through the process of putting new best practices in place.
Your job: proof of concept and ongoing support
Are you familiar with the story of the Brooklyn Bridge? It was opened to traffic in May 1883. The public was skeptical of this engineering feat, a massive project designed to make their lives easier and better. It was the longest suspension bridge in the world at that time, nearly 1,600 feet long. At that time the only way to get from Manhattan to Brooklyn had been a series of cobbled together ferry rides. 6 days after opening, a woman fell on the stairs going up to the bridge causing a panic-induced stampede that left 12 dead and more injured. Usership lagged for over a year. People weren’t on board with the technology, and this major trauma only saved to make things worse.
On May 17 of 1884, a year after the languishing bridge’s opening, PT Barnum put on a visual spectacle that bolstered public trust in the new operation. Of course it also served as a massive publicity stunt for his circus operation, but let’s focus on what good it did for the bridge, shall we? He staged a parade across the bridge with his most famous elephant, Jumbo, and led across 21 elephants and 17 camels. People celebrated. It fixed the reality-vs-perception gridlock that had kept people off the bridge. The demonstration provided a powerful large-scale shift in the public perception of the strength and safety of the bridge.
What barriers exist to getting the group to adopt new tech designed to make their lives easier and better?
Are people worried that focusing on virtual tools will eliminate part of the human experience of the groups connection? Are they worried about security concerns? Are they worried that they will not be able to figure out how to use it?
In your research over possible tech solutions to adopt, keep these concerns at the forefront. Welcome feedback and address member’s concerns. Do what it takes to acknowledge and alleviate their suspicions. It doesn’t HAVE to involve elephants, but, hey, smoke em if you got em right? Read on for the 4 critical steps we’ve identified that will seriously amp your success rate:
1. Simple User Interface > pricing and features
This may seem obvious, but people are more likely to adopt a tool that is intuitive and doesn’t feel like an uphill battle to learn to use. Approachability matters. Pricing and features are of course important. You will not, most likely, have chosen a tool that doesn’t do what you need it to do at the price you need it to it. That’s a given. The variable to focus on when you pitch this to the group is what it will do for them. It will take away their stress, it will save them time, it will eliminate their need to remember 5 different logins for 5 different apps, it will solve their email problems, etc. Whatever the case may be, keep the focus on how it will make things easier and better for them. When picking a new technology solution, keep in mind the most tech-averse person in the group.
2. Focus on how the new tool addresses everyone’s pain-points
What is the benefit to the group and what will it take to implement the tool? You’re likely already aware that adopting this new tool will address known pain-points that the group has. That would be a great place to start the conversation about the possibility, or eventuality, of getting the group to adopt new tech. Anticipate the reservations that members might have, and stay open to feedback and ideas. The leaders job is to get people comfortable with crossing the bridge, not once but every single time. Having a compelling vision that you can share with the group will go a long way to securing buy-in. Glossing over people’s very valid worries is ill-advised.
3. Onboard key influencers first
What might happen if you got a small subcommittee to test the tool first? Having a few natural leaders to go first as the canaries in the coalmine can save a lot of leader time and effort in the long run. On-boarding a few strategic helpers means that they can share their learning curve and success with the tool. Doing so means that the leader won’t be the ONLY one that has the ability to provide tech support if and when it’s needed. Strong communicators can then work horizontally across the group to bring everyone up to speed and act as support during implementation. The leader should not be in a ‘hero’ role here- with a little finesse and forethought, a staged rollout can save a lot of time and headache.
4. Institutionalize the change
Even after everyone has been shown how to use the tool, the job is not quite over yet. Leaders need to find an ongoing sweet spot to making sure that everyone is actually using the tool. When it comes time to do a sign-up or make a choice, make sure that you are reiterating that the process will happen through the new tool. It make take several go-rounds before people have the muscle memory established to use the new tool well and consistently. Don’t squander all of the hardworking by allowing members to backslide into how things used to be done. After mini-projects are completed using the new tool, follow-up on how it went. Whether it went well or poorly, keeping it at the top of members’ minds will be important for a bit. If there are questions and concerns about how the new tool worked, make sure they don’t get swept under the rug. Do what you need to do to make it second nature!
The Team at Groupeasy