Category Management: It’s Still All About Adoption!!!


There is a in person (yes, we still do those 😊) series of workshops being delivered for a client in Sardinia (no, I didn’t go ) and as we were approving the curriculum, we decided to make a change from our standard first module and replaced it with our Adoption module.  We realized that while we kept talking about how important Adoption was, we were not quite giving it the prominence it deserved.  So yes, I’m back talking about one of my favorite topics and a topic that will probably be the first chapter in my long promised book.

You may know this name from what you put in your mouth everyday (Listerine) but here are some fun facts about Dr. Joseph Lister:

  • Joseph Lister introduced antiseptic surgery in Scotland in 1867 – saving thousands of lives
  • Despite the demonstrated results there is no adoption in the U.S.  Or England
  • President Jams Garfield dies in 1881 due to disregard of sterile surgical conditions
  • Public outcry causes adoption in the late 1880s

He could not get surgeons to wash their hands with soap before surgery thus killing lots of their patients.  By the way, any idea what Listerine was first used for?  You may not put it in your mouth again!

I’m sure many of you will remember Geoffrey Moore’s adoption(Diffusion of Innovation) model where he talks about technology adoption and suggests a bell curve kind of split starting with the Innovators and ending with the Laggards with a chasm in the early stages og the bell curve.  Here were some of the points he raised:

  • Adoption is not a smooth process 
  • The Chasm is caused because “the rest of the world is not ready for the innovation / change “
  • The Chasm is crossed when the innovation / change is proven to work  – others have done it 
  • Adoption is a difficult selling effort in which early adopters do not and possibly cannot influence future adopters – future adopters must be SOLD 
  • It is up to “Marketing and Sales” to reframe the reason for adoption to create diffusion

We got involved in some discussions a while ago with a software developer who were involved in offering solutions in the Sourcing/supply chain space as they wanted to pick our brains before their next version and here is the hypothetical we posed for them.  If they had three clients who started on the same date with the same exact configuration of their solution and had unlimited budgets, why would they end up with three different levels of value achieved and that our answer was it was in the Adoption of their solution.  Meaning that the three clients each had a different level of Adoption that they had achieved.  It was a hard concept for them to latch on to because it would mean that they would have to focus on increasing their Adoptability and not add more features and functionalities (which would actually reduce their adoptability!!!).

By the way, the same is true of training programs – they are mostly a waste of time UNLESS they have a built in Adoption component to them.  Here are some of the elements of Adoption of training programs that you should consider:

  • Managers MUST expect and demand individuals to use new behaviors 
  • Ensure every individual has an IDP(Individual Development Plan)
  • Have a process in place to measure progress 
  • Make it easy for individuals to apply skills by providing tools, templates, etc. 
  • REQUIRE and monitor utilization of new tools, processes, templates, etc.   
  • Provide individuals opportunities to use new skills – put them on a project team 
  • Establish forums where individuals share learning experiences with each other 
  • Create a learning environment where individuals feel safe to attempt using new skills
  • Use of external experts to work with your professionals to accelerate application of new skills – team coaching on sourcing events

It is imperative that ANY initiative/project/sourcing event/training program etc. etc. etc. – THEY MUST ALL FOCUS ON ADOPTION!



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