Congratulations! Your team just procured the latest innovative technology that’s really going to deliver exceptional outcomes.  You kick off the project, expectations are high and everyone’s excited.  12 months later, you’ve been live for 4 months and the outcomes are far from exceptional.  Your reputation took a big hit and you’ve left wondering how it all went wrong? The most likely culprit – improper change management. 

Technology rarely fails people as much as people fail to adopt technology.   

Perhaps you underestimated how change would impact your team, so you assumed adoption was just a given. Maybe your company doesn’t have a formal change management process. Regardless, no matter how great the technology, if you don’t have adoption you won’t see the ROI.  Let’s start with a quick definition. Change Management is the process of facilitating the transition of an organization, technology or people from a legacy state to its next generation. However, change is about more than process. To plan for change, you need to look at the lifecycle, the events in it, and focus on a people-first approach. 

Change doesn’t happen overnight because humans are naturally resistant to change. One study shows that 70% of change programs fail to achieve their goals.1 Blame Darwin’s natural selection.  

Successful change is derived from a powerful, leadership vision driven from the top, down. This why the executive vision and goals must be clearly defined and communicated to the broader organization before commencement of any initiative. 

As a leader, it is your prerogative to ensure the well-being of your team. After all, nobody wants to work in a low-morale environment. So, before embarking on enhancing your data warehouse or transforming your workplace through the latest tool, remember to ask yourself, “Do I really understand how this will impact my team and/or end-users?”  

Your end-users are the greatest source of data. Conducting research interviews and identifying the influencers will be key to adoption success. Leveraging a change management consultant can be very helpful, but they can only wield so much influence over the stakeholders. At the end of the day, they’re an outsider. This is where the early adopters and influencers will pay a strategic role. “Train the trainers” is not just a snappy buzz-phrase. It’s an absolute requirement for successful adoption.  

A recent example of a failed change program was in 2013, when Target Canada assumed that converting data from an obsolete system to their latest infrastructure would be unnecessary. They would just start fresh with newly entered data into their SAP platform. The result was failure. The culprit was erroneous data on everything from pricing to dimensions. The source was inexperienced workers performing data entry.2 One could assume that had there been pre-kickoff interviews with both technical and functional staff, a strategy based on this input, and an adoption program with the staff entering the data, the failure could have been averted. Often, organizations favor expediency over excellence.   

So, the real question is, “What is the cost of doing nothing?” What does the implementation of the fancy new CRM or ERP look like in the absence of adoption? We live in times where every year, a new product is launched with the promise to revolutionize business. Before you write a check, ask the end users if the application meets their needs? Really dig into the requirements and potential impact of change. Without adoption, your IT dollars are as good as gambling at a casino. 


Mark Adams, Consultant, CTI 

1 By Boris Ewenstein, Wesley Smith, and Ashvin Sologar https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/leadership/changing-change-management 

2 By Josh Fruhlinger and Thomas Wailgum; CIO; JUL 10, 2017 5:09 AM PT; https://www.cio.com/article/2429865/enterprise-resource-planning/enterprise-resource-planning-10-famous-erp-disasters-dustups-and-disappointments.html