Change Management Basics: Creating Success Stories to Reach Middle Adopters
Authored by: Holly Whitaker, PhD, Learning Strategy Consultant at D2L.
When you start a push to increase Brightspace adoption, you can find yourself in a situation where you need examples of faculty members on your campus who are doing masterful work in Brightspace. After all, faculty trust other faculty more than any other group on campus.
During the conversation with a faculty member who is looking for examples on your campus of people using the very tool you are discussing, you realize two things. First, that the faculty member you're talking with remains flatly unconvinced by your over-used example of the one person who started using that tool a few semesters back. Further, you know they were not convinced the first, second or third time that you used those innovator examples. And second, you realize you haven't invested enough time in collecting the kinds of success stories that this faculty member will trust and that will convince them to adopt.
If you know anything about the Rogers Adopter Categories framework, you know that the majority of your faculty fall in the two middle categories - Early Majority and Late Majority. Rogers also tells us that these middle adopters rely heavily on personal influencer networks on their campus to help them make an adoption decision.
The truth is, influence can be a fly in the adoption ointment if those middle adopters are looking to faculty whom you would deem as the wrong kind of influencer.
So then, how do you take the flies out of the adoption ointment? Take charge of the narrative that our middle adopters are telling themselves. You do that by applying more Rogers. Rogers outlined five attributes of an innovation that - under the right circumstances, circumstances that your narrative will create - can help middle adopters choose to increase their use of Brightspace.
Innovation Attribute #1: Relative Advantage
If a faculty member looks at Brightspace and sees a better alternative than what they have now, that's relative advantage. A good example of relative advantage are tools that improve efficiency or productivity.
A professor who has documented time savings while using Brightspace tools like Quick Eval to grade assignments would make a great success case. Every faculty member I know - including me, I am an adjunct instructor - wants to reduce the time they spend grading. And faculty will love to know that Brightspace can help them do better when it comes to time spent on grading.
Innovation Attribute #2: Compatibility
When a faculty member looks at using Brightspace and perceives something that is meaningful for them personally or professionally, that's compatibility. Compatibility implies alignment with faculty values & needs.
A professor who values increasing student success by giving high-quality feedback through rubrics or private discussion boards with individual students would make a great success case. Middle adopters who also value student success will see this as compatible with their values. Using a success case like this will help them understand that Brightspace tools can help them invest wisely in activities that increase the meaning they receive from teaching.
Innovation Attribute #3: Complexity
When faculty members in this middle adopter group look at any new technology, they almost immediately perceive that it's going to be complex and difficult. Your goal is to make Brightspace seem simple and easy using faculty success cases.
A professor who got up to speed quickly with a basic set of Brightspace tools like Announcements, Content tools, and Quizzes can be an effective success case to decrease perceived complexity. In your success case, you'll want to focus on the pathway the professor quickly went through to get up and running, as well as how this basic set of tools can be used to embody best practices for teaching in online, blended and on-ground classes.
Innovation Attribute #4: Trialability
Trialability means that someone can try something before they commit to using it. Trials let faculty prove to themselves that the tools are relatively easy to use, and can create momentum and prime them for wanting to use Brightspace.
A success case highlighting trialability might detail a faculty member's journey who attended a lunch and learn with Bring-Your-Own-Device access to a sneak peek of Brightspace. This success case could focus on how the trial allowed the faculty member to experiment with their own course content to see how easy the tools were to use, how easy those tools will be with students in their class.
When you highlight trialability, always wrap up the communication with an invitation to your next event where faculty can try Brightspace for themselves.
Innovation Attribute #5: Observability
Whenever you highlight a faculty member's use of Brightspace through success cases, or when faculty are rewarded for helping students succeed using Brightspace, you create awareness that those faculty members are using Brightspace in desirable ways. That's observability. This can also be accomplished by giving trained faculty swag like pens or t-shirts or an emblem of some kind that they can put on their office door or awarding them a Badge inside Brightspace. Observability involves letting others visibly see that adopters have achieved desired results.
A success case focused on observability might include screen capture videos of the instructor walking viewers through the step-by-step ways they are using specific Brightspace tools to achieve results. This way, other faculty can observe someone in their shoes who is using these tools, and your successful faculty become faculty role models.
Use faculty success cases that highlight Rogers Attributes of an Innovation to put the right kind of influencers in the path of your middle adopters. That way, the next time you look a resistant faculty member in the eye, you will have several success cases who represent that person's influencer network that will have that faculty member uncrossing her arms and nodding her heads with the thought, "If that person did it, so should I!"
Check out the rest of the Change Management Basics articles: