Change Management Basics: Restructuring Your Team to Increase Adoption
Authored by: Holly Whitaker, PhD, Learning Strategy Consultant at D2L.
When starting with Brightspace, part of the process is to determine what levels of adoption you really want, and how you will know your institution has achieved those levels of adoption.
To promote adoption by doing things differently for each adopter category, consider restructuring your team or your workflows to accommodate the different category's needs.
However, we also know that the Rogers Adopter Curve tells us that it takes more time for later adopters than for earlier adopters. Rogers's research also tells us that earlier adopters need different kinds of communication & support to make the decision to adopt.
So that got me thinking - why do e-learning team leaders & directors offer the same communications to everyone, when we know that is not what truly helps different adopter groups decide to adopt?
We all know that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result, so why are we doing same old same old - and expecting different results when it comes to adoption?
Accommodations can come in several forms like different tactical teams for each adopter group, or different project plans for innovators versus laggards, and communication messaging designed to attract different groups to training events specially differentiated for adopter categories.
At a minimum, ensure that your restructuring plans include specific support for early, middle and later adopters.
If you have enough staff to dedicate a few innovative team members to Rogers's innovator category, task them with working with the LMS administrative team to put flexible guidelines around how new features are rolled out.
Structuring Teams to support early adopters
Engage your innovative faculty members as a lead team who gets early-bird access to new features to pilot, and your innovator tactical team collects data & success stories along the way. This tactical team needs to be naturally curious and innovative, balanced with people with a natural aptitude for systems and processes. Consider committing at least one person to this category.
If you don't have enough staff to dedicate solely to supporting innovators, assign one person on your team to play the innovator's advocate in team meetings. If you're a solo act, add a column to your planning documentation that includes your faculty innovators.
Structuring Teams to support middle adopters
When you think about staffing to support middle adopters, remember that middle adopters represent the majority of users, so focus the bulk of your resources here - perhaps up to half of your available team. Think of people for this team who are well connected, respected and don’t jump at the first sign of a shiny thing. These team members need to be encouraging, patient and good coaches who can rally the masses.
This team will need the success cases collected & developed by the early adopter tactical team to serve as social proof to entice these middle adopters. You'll want to focus on "right" tool use, so ensure that communication & training includes how-to guides for specific tools and pedagogy models. If you have the staff, consider dedicating some resources to reviewing courses and suggesting improvements.
If you don't have enough staff to dedicate a team to this large group of middle adopters, plan the majority of your service offerings, trainings and communication to be targeted at this group because it represents the majority of your faculty. If you're a solo act, this group needs to be your focus. Solicit support from your faculty innovators to help other innovators.
Structuring teams to support later adopters
Later adopters need more 1-1 support, repeated communication, and a lot of data to convince them to willingly make a switch. The cost of switching needs to seem very low - and your team's support needs to decrease the perceived cost of switching.
Structure this team's service offerings to include 1-1 or 1-few trainings focused on one tool at a time, one course at a time. Release information to this group slowly so they can absorb it. Give them a resource to read or review before they jump in and use a tool. Ensure that all quality standards and deliverables are set up for clear adherence to best practices - and communicate that in the faculty persuasion process. This will help reluctant faculty trust you.
Select your most patient, systems-oriented people for this service team. From the manager's perspective, acknowledge that projects on this team will flow slowly, as later adopters need more hand-holding and repetition.
If you lead a smaller team, or if you are a team of one, always dedicate more time than you think is needed for later adopters. They need to absorb, mull things over and it takes time for them to trust you, so lean into those inevitable silent moments. They have a good purpose in the end.
It pays to consider early, middle and later adopters from the first day of implementation. If you're restructuring your team or adding staff, assigning specific people to work with the Rogers Adopter Categories will help faculty in each category with their specific needs - and will ultimately spur your institution toward the levels of adoption you're looking to achieve.
Check out the rest of the Change Management Basics articles: