I had an insightful user adoption conversation with Yammer product evangelist Steve Nguyen recently. Steve shared an analogy he uses to identify key internal change agents for technology initiatives. The model, called green dots, yellow dots, red dots, categorizes users in the midst of change moments.
Green dots are the individuals that are highly motivated to change. They’re keen to adopt new technology with no prodding or encouragement. Green dots are natural innovators and early adopters that engage of their own accord. They’re driven to learn, excited to engage in new technologies and unafraid to change and adapt.
Yellow dots are hesitant and require encouragement to change. Greenish-yellow dots respond well to positive messaging, only requiring mild encouragement to jump on board. Reddish-yellow dots are more resistant. While there is still a chance they will jump on board, it will take significantly more effort to get them excited about the change.
Red dots are resistant to change. They may be technology laggards, see no purpose in the change or are motivated to maintain the status quo. When pushed or forced to change, red dots can often dig in. They remain resistant and can influence others to refuse to adopt the new technologies.
So what does this mean?
As a change initiator, it’s important to understand where to focus your time. Green dots are intrinsically motivated to change. While you need to actively engage these users in your change management strategy and leverage them as key change agents, you should not spend a majority of your time trying to “win over” green dots.
Yellow dots are hesitant or reluctant to change, but can be encouraged to adopt. As change initiators, we need to consider yellow dots as our target market for change. Investing in adoption campaigns, targeted communications, user education and “what’s-in-it-for-me” messaging for yellow dots can yield tremendous results.
Spending too much time converting red dots is like chasing after your SharePoint naysayers. As I’ve shared in previous posts, SharePoint naysayers are those individuals that persist in deriding SharePoint without provocation or apology. Naysayers come from many different contexts and backgrounds and can exist at all levels of the organization. They may be developers, information hoarders or tech-geeks that are “above” tools like SharePoint.
As SharePoint practitioners, we’re prone to over-investing in an effort to convert our naysayers into enthusiasts. While this conversion may occur in rare cases, it is not the norm. True naysayers are entrenched in their beliefs, and will require a change of heart or social pressure from other resistors to make a change.
It’s also important to note that not all red dots are naysayers. Some red dots are simply slow to change or are technology resistant. Given adequate time and attention, these red dots can eventually be won over. But it’s important to acknowledge that these red dots are heavily influenced by the yellow dots that adopt before them. The yellow dots teach the red dots that change is possible and show that life on the other side isn’t all bad.