Despite advances in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, human intervention is still essential to affect real change.
At Revenue Analytics we help our clients generate tens of millions of dollars in incremental revenue and profit. We utilize terabytes of data and technology such as machine learning to dynamically predict how consumers will respond to our clients’ offers. We often implement fresh pricing or inventory optimization systems to monetize insights.
No matter how clever our systems are, however, unless the user of the solution leverages the output to make a different and better business decision than before, all our efforts are wasted. And we’ve discovered that people–especially people who may already be successful–are reluctant to change.
Therefore, for our analytics to succeed, we must solve for the human equation to get adoption.
We’ve come up with an algorithm. Adoption = A2E2 (Artisan, Alignment, Education, Empathy). Our approach to getting human adoption assures that the system is right-sized and aligned with the business. We are empathetic to each client situation, and we understand that solution education flows two ways.
Change could be dictated from the top down, but the most effective change comes from natural, organic change occurring from the bottom up. Fortunately, research has uncovered a process to facilitate bottom-up change.
Everett M. Rogers was a social scientist who studied how people in society accept change. His groundbreaking book, The Diffusion of Innovations, addresses how change is implemented throughout a society. It doesn’t matter whether the innovative change relates to pest control or smartphones—the science behind how adoption occurs is the same. Those of us trying to get innovations adopted can leverage Rogers’ work to accelerate change.
The acceptance of an innovative idea invariably follows an S-shaped curve. Timelines may be shorter or longer, but they all follow the same trajectory. Once an original concept is introduced, it takes a while for people to become aware of it, try it, and accept it. There is a point at which acceptance of the innovation reaches a critical mass. From there, adoption is accelerated.
Rogers’ work shows that there are five categories of people—Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority and Laggards— each with clearly identifiable characteristics. Having the knowledge of these categories can accelerate acceptance and dramatically shorten the timeline for the adoption of innovations.
The Innovators are the first to try a new idea. They tend to be venturesome individuals with the ability to understand and apply state-of-the-art techniques. They’re rash and daring, and they don’t mind the occasional setback. They may be considered strange or eccentric and aren’t widely respected, so their adoption won’t assure the success of the idea.
Early Adopters tend to be open-minded, educated and ambitious. They are not inherently risk-takers and adopt after careful review. They are respected by their peers, and they serve as role models for the social system. This group is the most important in the adoption cycle. Once they accept the innovation, it takes off. If they reject it, the concept dies.
The Early Majority deliberate carefully, then choose to adopt once the risks are minimized. They tend to be proactive, attacking an issue, rather than passively accepting outcomes.
The Late Majority takes on the persona of the average person. People in the Late Majority tend to be complacent and sometimes skeptical. They are followers rather than leaders. Circumstances often force them into adoption as a defensive measure.
Rogers named the last group “Laggards.” They adopt only as a last resort and often only after the innovation has been superseded by a more recent innovation.
It is important to appreciate that different individuals will adopt the change at different points in the adoption cycle. Knowing your audience and targeting the change management messaging to the different categories based on the factors influencing their rate of adoption can accelerate the cycle.
Here are a few tips:
- Encourage the Innovators to experiment with your new solution and solicit feedback from them.
- Seek out the Early Adopters. Educate them on the solution and address their concerns. This is the most important group. Identify and invest time with them.
- Be accessible to the Early Majority; help them see how to minimize the risk of adoption.
- Tolerate the Late Majority, but don’t let their natural skepticism become defeatism.
- Consider relocating Laggards to an environment where change is not essential to success.
With an understanding of how cutting-edge ideas are incorporated into an organization, and utilizing these proven techniques, you can accelerate change and realize revenue growth faster.