Timeless Patterns in Technology Adoption

Here are several timeless patterns I’ve observed in my years of working with a variety of organizations on technology adoption. As Merlin Mann said in a recent speech, “This is not a list. It is a list of four things, but don’t think of it as a list. Because that makes me mad. Item 1.”

  1. Never underestimate how busy people are, and how quickly they will ignore or dismiss something they don’t see as useful.
  2. What has worked for me, time and time again, is to work my way through an organization team by team, department by department, and find out what day to day problems people want to solve. (My work with the Brown University Chemistry Department on a language tool for international graduate students is just such an example. We didn’t use a wiki for wiki’s sake; we built a source of information to help graduate students learn how to use technical terms in their proper context in a chemistry lab. This project is the subject of a chapter in the recently-published book Authenticity in the Language Classroom and Beyond: Adult Learners.)
  3. Rules are for impatient people. You need to observe patterns to see what works well and where the weaknesses lie.
  4. The best strategy for long-lasting technology adoption comes from running a small pilot, working out the kinks, telling a good story with relevant examples from the pilot, giving people permission and encouragement to find the best uses, and letting them guide their peers.
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