Change Management Basics: Managing Resistance using the Concerns Based Adoption Model
Authored by: Holly Whitaker, PhD, Learning Strategy Consultant at D2L.
As a change leader, you have probably seen your fair share of instances when that resistant faculty member finally gave in and adopted a certain technology. The reasons why they adopted when they did might still be a mystery to you - but your job includes responsibility for helping other faculty members and instructors who are just like them get into that adoption mindset. So on some level, it would help if you could decode the mysteries behind what it takes to unlock adoption.
The Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM) is designed to help you do just that. It helps diagnose adoption readiness. CBAM is mostly used to diagnose whole-campus readiness, but you can use it to diagnose the individual sources of resistance.
CBAM is divided into three separate ideas, and we are going to look specifically at the Stages of Concern to help diagnose specific sources of resistance. Using Stages of Concern, you can respond to the true source of resistance that an instructor is presenting, and respond with exactly what they need to move them forward toward adoption.
Here are the Stages of Concern and how to lead the conversation at each stage toward the next:
Stage Zero: Unconcerned
I am aware that Brightspace is out there, but I’m too busy right now to pay attention.
If you get indicators that an instructor is at this stage, give it time. Let the instructor know where to find resources when the instructor is ready for them.
Stage 1: Informational
Brightspace seems interesting - I would like to know more about it.
This stage should be a positive response to your curiosity-creating communication campaign. If you are speaking with a faculty member and sense that their responses indicate that they are interested in knowing more, reward the curiosity by offering this:
If they don't get the information they are looking for, they will likely become resistant. Continue the conversation by asking if they saw anything in Brightspace that they still have questions about. Listen to their curiosity, and answer as transparently as possible.
Stage 2: Personal
When I start using Brightspace, how will that change what I've been doing?
This stage is likely at the Rogers Innovation-Decision stage of Decision. This person is deciding whether to adopt Brightspace. Part of that consideration is how Brightspace changes their current workflows. If you get these kinds of responses in conversation, stoke that curiosity by:
- Discussing their current workflows
- Demonstrating similar workflows in Brightspace
- Showing how their course content could take advantage of specific Brightspace tools
If they aren't satisfied that Brightspace offers a Relative Advantage, then continue consulting with them about alternative delivery models. If they still aren't satisfied, this could become a source of resistance. Always follow up here with how your office is poised to support them during the transition to Brightspace.
Stage 3: Management
I am spending all of my time getting materials ready in Brightspace.
This is a difficult stage. As an adjunct instructor, I know that the first few weeks of the semester are always the worst with feeling like you're spending all of your time just getting set up. If you get these kinds of responses during your conversations with instructors, listen carefully, and follow up with your own curiosity:
- Ask about what tools they are using, and listen for how you can help smooth the way
- Ask about how using Brightspace is different and offer empathy - it's difficult to be a subject matter expert and start over at the newbie level. It messes with your ego, so tread lightly.
- Offer suggestions & tools to help them save time
If they can't see the silver lining, this could become a source of resistance. Remember, you want instructors to perceive that Brightspace is easy to use, but the transition to new tools is always difficult. Offer brief tutorials for the tools you know they are using.
Stage 4: Consequence
Can I do an even better job of reaching my students with Brightspace?
These kinds of conversations usually occur after the Confirmation stage of the Innovation-Decision process. This is a positive indicator of a positive adoption confirmation. It means that your instructors are thinking of their own innovative ways to use Brightspace. In response to this conversation, offer this:
If they don't find what they want, help them by offering them more data with Brightspace Data Sets. Especially if you have a researcher looking to publish scholarship of teaching & learning, they may become resistant if they can't access the granular data they are looking to use in their statistical analysis. If that data isn't there, work with them to set up their course in a way that harnesses all that Brightspace data has to offer, and work closely with them over the coming term to ensure that the data will be there at the end of the term.
Stage 5: Collaboration
How can I connect with other instructors to see how they are using Brightspace?
These kinds of conversations are huge gold stars for you as a change leader. These conversations usually mean that you've got a true blue Brightspace superstar user.
- Invite them to participate in your governance board, or meet with other power users in a session to seek out potential collaborations for research or for the new student success initiative that's around the corner.
It's unlikely that this person will become resistant, but if you don't connect them with other power users, they could become isolated and discouraged that they are a one-person-island of Brightspace awesomeness, which makes that island not as awesome if you're alone there.
Stage 6: Refocusing
I have some ideas about how I can use Brightspace that would work even better.
This conversation signals that it is definitely worth asking the person to be on your governance board. This person is developing a true vision for what Brightspace can do in the larger institutional context, and they need to contribute their ideas to a larger group.
Again, it's unlikely that this person will become resistant, and you have to be careful not to overload this superstar user with too many showcases, success cases, board responsibilities and the like. They are passionate about teaching - make that even more possible for them by unleashing them in that direction.
Resistance happens in many forms. CBAM is one way to frame up resistance - especially if you have a small team, or you're a one-person-show, knowing how to steer these conversations away from circling into resistance is a key change leadership skill you must master to be successful in your role.
Check out the rest of the Change Management Basics articles: