Have you ever noticed how the machinery that people hate always seems to break down more? I was visiting a plant in Southern Ontario where management had just shelled out $50 thousand to install a new overhead hoist system. Back injuries were becoming a problem, and it had become mandatory to use the lift for anything over 25 lbs. The problem was that even though the hoists were brand new, they kept breaking down. Management was frustrated.
I was chatting with one of the line workers when we were interrupted by a loud CRASH that made me flinch, although oddly none of the workers seemed affected by it. When I inquired after the accident, something became immediately apparent to me. It turns out the line workers hated the new lifts, which were hard to use and time consuming. Management had bought the lifts instead of updating older equipment that was in much greater demand. So employees had been hurling the hoists down their tracks and slamming them into place at full speed, and that was why they kept breaking.
The moral of the story should be pretty obvious by this point. As much as management thought it was a great idea, they failed to consider the perspective of the end users. Management was thrusting their view on how things should work onto the line workers, and it cost them – $50 thousand and counting.
Whether it’s new machinery, a new accounting system, or new software, the key decision maker needs to strongly consider the views of the end user. Remember, no one has to nag or threaten someone to get them to use Google. You don’t need to negotiate to get someone to use Facebook. They’ll do it on their own because both services provide immediate and obvious value. Of course, this is only one lever to user adoption.
I’ll follow up with a more in-depth examination of the causes and effects of different user adoption levers next week.