Many of you may remember the focus on Adoption that was started by us many years ago and I ran across a very interesting article that was a powerful reminder of the concept. And the reference to the vowels(Adoption, Execution, Implementation, Optimization and Utilization) is their significance in creating words, meaning and language – try doing it with just the consonants 🙂 ! Potable water is essential to life and continues to elude many millions causing significant illness and death. The Aquaya Institute(TAI) has been working on trying to solve this but quickly realized that it wasn’t the technology that was the constraint but understanding the difference between needing potable water and wanting it – Adoption! This is no different than trying to convince physicians to wash their hands before surgery – it took decades. This is similar to you and I coming up with logically the best darn solutions and then crying in our wine when our colleagues in our companies refuse to adopt them – n’est ce pas?
The way we perceive the negative cost of dirty water is different than those affected, so pushing new technologies and products on them is of no use (lowest price or TCO ring a bell?). TAI goes on to cite other examples like smoking and overeating where the perceived cost is not high enough to motivate behaviour. This concept and even the language are extremely similar to what we at TMG have been telling our clients for a few years, and in fact, are totally congruent with even the Adoption formula that we use with our clients in every single engagement – PV>PC=”AEIOU” (if you would like further details, let us know).
The “water refill” industry is the one sustainable solution that they seem to think has the best chance to succeed because “they’ve managed to both cultivate and respond to consumer demand for high quality water”. A mom and pop neighborhood operation both cleans and sells small quantities of water who are not only being successful but are challenging the big players in the market while delivering equal or better quality. However, it’s not just the availability, quality and price that contributes to the success but rather the impact of the Adoption formula above. It’s not till the perceived value of clean water is high enough compared to the perceived cost of dirty water and the two scientists discovered that that did not happen till potable water was bought and consumed by the rich and affluent in these societies. The demand for potable water then trickles down to the poor(no pun intended) and it’s only then that these water refill stations become successful. The water refill industry began by serving the rich and charging quite a premium and only then did it achieve scale and long term sustainability.
The mere availability of the technology to produce potable water at affordable prices and make it available locally by itself is not enough to get people to switch. Similarly, the mere creation of the perfect solution will never be enough for our colleagues to start drinking from the fountain. Or the mere creation of the best piece of software is not enough for the market to buy it. Just because we built it – they don’t come. Which is why the focus on Adoption must be relentless. It must permeate every process and activity. Old McDonald was onto something on the farm – it is still about AEIOU.