Let’s be Honest. User Adoption During an Organizational Change Initiative can make or Break the Change Effort.

User adoption strategies can create a watershed moment for many organization. Stay the course or look to cut their losses and try again when the temperature and time is right for the change initiative. The probability of getting to press the do over button in many cases is slim to none. Especially since the organization has poured resources such as capital, time, vendors, etc. to make sure that the change initiative is successful.

The iterative communications plans have been written, reviewed, and delivered to the various stakeholder’s groups with accurate information related to the change and the timing of when the changes are going to occur in the organization. Because as we know, communications are the lynchpin to driving successful change.

As the organizational change work stream (communications) continues to provide the timely and transparent messaging for the organization, now begins the tough task of getting people at affected levels of the organization to adopt to the changes.

As part of that messaging the leaders of the organization need to address the questions below in advance to increase user adoption once the implementation has taken place:

1. Why do I need to embrace this latest organizational change effort?

2. How is this going to be fundamentally different than the change effort we just experienced 30 days ago?

3. What is in it for me as a contributor and how will it make things easier (some cases) or tougher for me?

The key is to get users to embrace and help drive adoption of the change throughout the affected areas in the organization. Without clear logic and practicality of the “why” users may question the need to adopt to the latest change, which could turn into an exercise in futility.

Hands on Approaches to Improve your user Adoption Rates

Executive Sponsorship

Executive sponsorship needs to be highly visible and active during the times of organizational change to increase the adoption of the changes (good or bad).

Example: Apple’s senior leadership team is always actively participating in a visible manner with new changes to their iPhone platform, thereby drive existing and new user adoption of their platform. On the opposite side of the business coin; Microsoft announced the layoff of 5,000 employees and CEO at the time (Steve Ballmer), provided the reason behind the changes and why employees needed to adopt to the new business reality.

Internal Promotion

Internal promotion of organizational change can help people understand that the organizational change initiatives can provide resources and processes to help them be more efficient in the current roles.

Example: The implementation of Office 365 will enable our global team to improve cross-boundary communications by leveraging SharePoint where documents can be shared, edited, etc., on one platform by the team.


Communication must be transparent, fact-based, and timely. Use the communications plan to relay facts, not conjecture or speculation.

Example: The new facility in northern Italy will increase our capabilities in European markets and provide a 25% reduction in supply chain cost in the next 18 months.

Feedback Medium

Establish a simple to use feedback channel allowing those affected by change an outlet to provide leaders and managers real-time feedback. Feedback channels are an excellent way to maintain momentum, make immediate adjustments, show users that their feedback is valuable, and continuously improve the feedback process.

Example: When I use to travel to Hong Kong, the immigration control entry points leveraged technology to get immediate feedback from end users. There was a touch screen at the front of the desk that asked end users to select an emoji’ from unsmiling face to happy face to rate their experience at the end of the immigration process in real time.

Measure the Adoption

Measure the adoption rates where the organization change initiative took place. If you don’t measure your adoption plans, how do you truly know whether the change is taking hold?

Example: You have implemented Office 365 and needed to assess the effectiveness of the implementation.


Users logged in — past 24 hours

Users logged in — past week

Users not logged into the system — Past 24 hours, week, or month

Early Adopters

Improve the users experience with the new technology, tools, or processes to generate and maintain excitement. Recruit help from within to improve your adoption rate, with early adopters. Choose individuals who are widely respected among their team or peers.

Example: Train those users first and allow them to champion the organization change initiative based on their own experiences and the value that the changes have provided to them. This way, users get a point-of-view from someone who has experienced the changes first hand, which can lead to increased user adoption in the early stages of the change initiative.

Time is the Great Equalizer

Give it time. User adoption doesn’t happen overnight because of its hard for people to adopt instantaneously. Don’t expect your users to adopt to the organizational changes right away. Make it clear and understood that there is a learning curve and that you are open to questions, concerns, and suggestions.

Example: When the soft drink industry realized that consumers taste and habits were evolving into more health-conscious consumers, they recognized the need to change. They had to shift and adopt their strategies over time to those customers or risk losing those customers for failure to change.

These user adoption techniques above could be the difference between failure or success. Don’t be afraid, be bold and experiment with different approaches to help users adopt to organizational change as dictated by your unique organization.

Remember, change is an iterative process and doesn’t follow a straight path no matter how well you plan, there is something that will inevitably happen to change the course of the projected outcomes.

No two organizations are alike because of internal politics, culture, artifacts, size of organization, values, etc. So always keep in mind, adoption of change doesn’t come easy and all you have to do is just think about your own experiences throughout life and the connection is clear.