Surveys of CEO’s identify organizational change as their most important role in a company. They also rank employee adoption or change as their leading problem. Today’s business landscape rewards organizations that are nimble, move quickly and adapt to market needs. Since user adoption is the linchpin of all successful change projects, no matter the size, shouldn’t training merit a higher priority?
If Training were a person it would have a very low self-esteem. Not only is it often the first budget item that is cut, no one seems to understand why it’s important and how to execute it properly. Let’s look at why Training gets a bad rap.
Training falls into 2 primary streams. The first, personal development is part of a company’s long-term strategy to develop their people for future advancements. It has the benefit of executive buy-in, a committed budget and a well-defined program. Employees are intrinsically motivated to participate, as the personal benefit is well understood.
The second stream encompasses the tactical changes that happen every time a process, or technology is upgraded within an organization. Statistically an employee will face 30 or more upgrades in a year where they are asked to learn a process or master a new technology. This is the area that Training’s self-esteem suffers most.
Individually each tactical change is viewed with low importance. The sheer volume of changes can be overwhelming for managers, instructors and employees. The growth of Learning Management Systems (LMS) has not made things any easier. They are well designed for long-term, progressive lesson plans but not small rapid ones. Many LMS’s had their start in the educational (college / university) space where their feature- / function-rich capabilities are essential. In the business world, however, it can be a barrier to the volume of fast, discreet learning associated with most of the changes employees have to adopt in any year.
In addition, Trainers are often the product experts who are tasked with providing training to the product buyers. They know the material but often don’t know the science of learning. Unfortunately, they may be great presenters, but they do not understand the techniques that produce sustainable knowledge in their students.
Why should CEO’s care? Unfortunately, it takes an average of 7-11 months for a deployed change to be adopted by employees. Consider the costs: A company spends $1M on a new system with an expected 5-year amortization cost of $200K per year, plus 20% maintenance. If the company does not receive an 80-100% utilization rate 11 months after deployment, they have effectively wasted the amortization for the first year ($240K). Now consider the lost opportunity cost: By using the new product or procedure, the company expected to save 2% of its operating costs, boosting their net profit by the end of the year. Delayed user adoption would mean that the business objectives not met, and the savings are delayed. This could hurt investments, cash flow, next year’s budgets, etc.
It seems ridiculous, yet organizations take this risk when their tactical learning is left as a low priority.
Why does adoption take 7-11 months? Well, think of your own experience where a new system or new processes was introduced by the organization. How long did it take you to regain full mastery or comfort equal to the old one? Were you relegated to learning on your own or told, “Everything you need to know is on our website.”? Were you invited to a webinar but the content was to general and not relevant to what you needed to know? Organizations need to consider that employee in our brains thus avoiding, delaying or in some cases rejecting future changes.
We can change the outcomes for a better future. Understanding the science of human behavior, brain function and personal motivation allows us to construct a better solution to accelerate user adoption and subsequently business outcomes. Leverage Micro Learning as a great fit small, frequent learning moments. Understand the unintended economic consequences of setting a low priority to tactical learning. Give Training a self-esteem boost.
For 20 years John Breakey led his last business, UNIS LUMIN, through significant, successful changes. Since 2012 his current initiative Fivel has focused on solving the User Adoption problem for customers.
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