Why Adoption Fails….



It is hard, it can be painful and most companies give up too soon.    I have a challenge for any organization that has brought consultants in over the last ten years?  Or five years?  Are you still using (or did you ever use) the solutions they provided to you?  Did you ensure that the recommendations that you paid millions of dollars for were not only implemented but ADOPTED?  I suspect it would make you sick to discover how much Value walked out the door with the consultants simply because there was no process or DISCIPLINE in place to ensure the VALUE was captured and sustained.

We tell clients everyday NOT to bother building new processes or tools or providing training unless you have a strategy in place, up front, to ensure Adoption.  Now, you may ask, how do you do this?  How do you ensure that adoption takes place:

  • Leadership commitment
  • Selling the Value
  • Time
  • Effort
  • Investment
  • Staying the Course

Leadership commitment means up and down the ranks and at the highest levels of the organization.  Everyone needs to be aligned, which is no small task.   Even where you think there may be alignment – test it!  Words are easy, actions are not.  Sometimes leaders want to help but they don’t know what you need them to do – tell them!

Selling the Value to everyone that is impacted – without this you will not achieve adoption.  I know for me personally if I do not see the benefit, I will not adopt something new – it simply is not worth my time or attention.  Selling needs to be part of adoption plan and must be tailored at an individual level to ensure that you are hitting the right Value drivers.  If you can convince someone of “what’s in it for them” you have a better chance of adoption.

Time is where adoption most often breaks down.  Most organizations are impatient.  They want the results NOW and think that if they throw enough money at a problem or opportunity it will happen faster – maybe, maybe not.  You can’t move from transactional to strategic overnight no matter how many resources you throw at it or how much money you spend.   It takes time for an organization to absorb change particularly if it requires bumping up against the current culture.  Be prepared for a journey – not an event.

Effort especially estimating the effort to ensure adoption, is almost ALWAYS underestimated.  Whatever amount of effort you thing a change is going to require, triple it, and you may still be way off.

Investment   in money and resources is a given.  Where you believe the payoff is big, calculate the ROI and then sell it.  Failing to do that, will leave you holding the bag from a resource perspective and you will be hard pressed to make adoption happen.  Not ensuring you have the appropriate budget to get to adoption will leave everyone frustrated.  A significant part of your budget (40%?) should be allocated  up front to adoption activities.

Staying the Course is easy to say but hard to do.  If you understand up front that getting to adoption will take time then remind yourself and your organization of that every time you start to think about abandoning ship.    Remember that any investment or change that is NOT adopted by the organization is a wasted effort.

If what you read above makes sense – think change management.  Engaging stakeholders and leaders, getting commitment, selling the value through communication, etc. are all part of a change management toolkit that can be applied to any change (any project) and really does work.   So when you think about why Adoption fails recognize that it is most likely because there was not enough time, attention or investment in managing the change  . . .. . .

Let us know what you think and join in the conversation . . . . . . .



  1. At time it fail – as no one own up – the “ownership” and most area fail to take up the ownership therefore “the drive thru” is important and the top management have to take the lead and commitment towards it.

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