Adoption & Effective Use

User Adoption: Lenin, Trotsky, or Stalin?

Last year, Mike Herrity posted about creating a revolution in user adoption, and asked which model works the best: Lenin, Trotsky, or Stalin. This was in the context of using SharePoint in an educational environment.

Basically, the three approaches are:
– Lenin – appeal the masses, that is, the students. But a strong leader is still required.
– Trotsky – work with the teaching staff.
– Stalin – force it on the people, and get rid of dissenters.

After outlining the three options, Mike concludes with this advice:

So which model do I think is the best for rolling out a learning environment that gains high user adoption? The Stalin model can have some success but it is rarely deep rooted and lacks dynamism. Resources will be uploaded because they have to be and students will use it when they are told to but the learning environment rarely becomes organic in these circumstances. The Trotsky model is perhaps the best intentioned but most prone to failure. Rarely is it possible to achieve anything significant in schools through one person. Whilst the advocate will work very hard to win hearts and minds teachers are busy people and they need time over inspiration! At times some successful roll outs develop from a hybrid of these two models. A charismatic champion inspires the staff and with the support of the Leadership Team in terms of time and priority a successful learning environment emerges.

From the experience of Twynham School I would however recommend following a Lenin based model to your learning environment roll out. If you can create a structured environment which engages students you will quickly win the majority of the battle. Allow them (and indeed encourage them) to lead the development through student voice but recognise that they will often need to be lead themselves in the early stages.

Read the full article on Mike’s blog, that’s SharePoint in Education.

2 replies »

  1. Hi Michael – In your book User Adoption Strategies I found the graph called ‘Path to Sustained Adoption’ really interesting. In particular it made me think about when sticks and carrots are actually are a good answer to achieving user adoption.
    In some organisations, such as mine, some IT tools are changed (enhanced or replaced) quite frequently. That could mean that sticks and carrots are the best way to achieve adoption in the life time of the tool.
    Similarly, even if the tool will be in place for a long time, using sticks and carrots is could be a useful way to build habits and group norms in users. The habits and norms would stay in place even when the stick/carrot is no longer effective (ssuming that the tool does offer something useful).
    Or do you think that the stick and carrot approach fundamentally turns users off, and so destroys any chance of longer term adoption (much to your points about people like change, but disliking being forcibly changed).

  2. Hi Sam … great to hear from you. Cool to hear your other news, too 🙂
    You ask a good question, and I doubt there is a perfect answer. Given that you have a “captive audience,” go out and ask them! Or observe behaviour through traffic logs, discussions, calls to the help desk, and so on.
    And related to the above, why are the IT tools changed (enhanced / replaced) frequently? Is there a good business reason for doing so, or IT playing with and releasing “cool stuff” that actually the users don’t see the value for?