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Software Adoption and the Doorway of Fear

November 04, 2008

If attraction is the emotional vehicle by which “early adopters” select software, fear seems to be the driver for technology adoption by the “late majority” as coined by Roger’s Innovation Adoption model.   Put succintly, they represent 34% or more of your user group and they only adopt new software when they are forced to in one form or another, and even then they heavily use reference or recommendation from their peer group (not what the early technology group is recommending).

Let me bounce off of you two different sides of fear, which you can address proactively to effect software adoption for this group.

1. If you think of the Fear door way as having two sides, the first side is the fear of “not getting it“, of failing, looking bad, of the learning experience being protracted and uncomfortably drawn out.  The fear of not being able to learn or use the software directly effects software adoption.  You’ve heard people voice this type of fear.  Comments I have heard from prospective users in the past few days has included statements like, “It looks complicated” or “How long will this take to learn” (translation I’m afraid this will take a long time or be difficult for me).

Essentially fear that acts as a blockage for adoption is based upon the anticipation that adopting the software will be unpleasant, time consuming and even embarrassing.  You want to minimize this fear using tactics such as: multi-mode training modalities, only introduce training on topics people “need to know” (e.g. 80% of the users only need to know how to use 20% or less of the software), and train using simple, sequential steps that build competency based upon successful mastery experiences.  You also want to provide peer support and peer champions.

2. The other side of the fear doorway, a different type of fear, also acts as a stimulus to adopt software.  Let’s go over that type of fear so that you understand it and know how to work with it. Remember it is the driver for innovation adoption with the late majority. Without it, adoption, that’s right the adoption you want those other people to pick up, will sputter and fail.

The type of fear that helps the “late majority” adopt innovation is typically a fear of negative consequences.  Negative consequence can range from the fear of missing out, to the fear of negative exposure (they’ll find out I’m not using the software).  Highlighting consequences and consistent follow-up during the adoption sequence all help this group’s fear of loss (their status, their bonus, their boss’s good will, their job) drive adoption – but only it seems if addressed and not passed over by the innovation leaders.

Assuming that a software adoption that isn’t going well today with this group, will “just take a little time,” is wishful thinking.  It is also inaccurate.  The late majority always reminds me of Newton’s 1st law of motion (also known as the ‘Law of Inertia’).  Essentially this group doesn’t move unless impacted by something that moves them.  If they aren’t moving now, the passage of time isn’t going to make it happen.

1. Fear plays an important emotional doorway for many potential software users.  More than one third of an entire user group may find Fear to be the primary driver effecting software adoption. For those of you who purchased software for a larger group based upon Attraction drivers, recognizing the importance of introducing and maintaining the consequences side of the Fear doorway is critical to your success.

2. Both reducing learning threshold based fears, and selectively reinforcing fears of negative consequences, help move the adoption process along.  As important as Fear is for many, the next and final doorway I’d like to talk about is the most important one for the success of an overall launch.


The Role of Attraction in Software Adoption

The Emotions Behind Decision Making

Politics, Emotion and Software Buy-in

Helping you Build a Case for Change

5 Comments. Leave new

Software Adoption for the Early Majority and the Doorway of Discomfort
November 5, 2008 10:47 am

[…] Software Adoption and the Doorway of Fear […]

The Changing Drivers for Software Adoption & Change Management
December 31, 2008 10:38 am

[…] Software Adoption and the Doorway of Fear […]

On-line Job Seek
March 7, 2009 11:45 pm

Hello. Great job. This is a great post. Thanks!

people search pages
July 18, 2009 10:33 pm

Very well written post however, I would recommend that you turn the No Follow off in your comment section.

Keep up the good work.


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