Firms and individuals fall somewhere along the software adoption spectrum. Teammates must navigate the internal dynamics of these different personas. A relatively junior professional might be a classic Early Adopter, but the owner might be Late Majority.
Everett Rogers popularized the Adoption Spectrum in his 1962 work, Diffusion of Innovation.
What to do?
Firstly, it’s important to understand the adoption spectrum of personas.
Here we will discuss five personas: Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority and Laggards.
Can you see yourself or any colleagues in the descriptions below?
Then, as you think about how to define Return On Investment (ROI), think about where internal partners fall along this spectrum. Being an Early Adopter sounds cool. I bet most of us wish we were Innovators or Early Adopters, but we probably aren’t. And your boss might not be either.
Use this knowledge to position the technology accordingly. Early Adopters like to be beta testers – ask them to provide feedback on software you're considering. Late Majority are skeptical – ask if a free trial would make them more comfortable.
Owners, by definition, are rarely on the right-hand side of the spectrum. Even if they feel slow to adopt technology, they are likely innovators in some form or fashion. They will react to technology that grows their business, but probably not to a proposal that saves time for one of the newly hired analysts. “I worked 80 hours a week when I got into the business, just tell them to work harder,” said every founder ever to a newbie that complained about workload.
The most challenging persona to convince is probably not the owner, but rather the most senior person that wasn’t part of the founding team. This teammate is probably exceptional at their job, but simply doesn’t have the same risk appetite that the owners do. They may not have that same passion for innovation the founders had, and therefore look at managing the business rather than growing it. In fact, their very position may force them to be risk averse. They are entrusted by the owners with the daily heavy lifting to keep the business profitable, but without the freedom to be wrong that owners can get away with. If the owners are benevolent dictators, these personas are the trusted lieutenants.
In the mind of the lieutenant, every new technology pitch starts from a place of “what will this cost?” Work to change that narrative and highlight the value instead. And keep in mind, present it in an easily digestible format. As excited as you may be, no one wants to sit through a 50 page PowerPoint!
Here are some questions you may want to answer to help highlight the value of any software.
Can it improve our bottom line?
Can it avoid a costly mistake?
Will it help our team easily fill in the blanks if a team member quits?
Can it land just one more deal a year?
Can it provide better oversight of the teams that report to them?
Can it put information at their fingertips instantly?
How can this technology make them look good in the eyes of the owners?
Perhaps the technology you are considering makes your workflow better, but you have to sell it internally as well. Consider where your colleagues might fall along the Adoption Spectrum and how you can best position the technology before approaching them.