Why wouldn’t users just listen?

User's won't listenThey don’t. They just don’t.

  • You tell them where the training manual is, they still ask again
  • You train them multiple times but they still wouldn’t learn
  • You send them thousand emails but they would just ignore

They just won’t listen. What fascinates me is why does this surprise us? Why does this frustrate us?

If you ask me I trust users to be ignorant. I trust them not to listen to most of the instructions and I completely trust them to do their own thing their own way after all you did to shape their behavior.  The problem is that most change professionals don’t.

Most change professionals I have come across seem to exist in a Utopian world. A world

  • where users have all the time in the world 
  • where users are just focused on the one change initiative
  • where reading email from the change team is their purpose for existence

I am sure that world does not exist. I am sure every user will tell you that their focus is driven by their own KPIs. I will even go to the extent of saying that users do not really care whether it is in the best interest of the organisation. If their KPIs are met and by co-incidence if that means organisation is benefited then good, else they don’t give a damn. In that sense they are no different from customers (surprise, surprise!). Hold on to that thought for a minute

Let’s look at the other side. Most transformation programs fail to deliver on benefits. Primary reason being that users do not buy into the change , it takes too much time and the landscape changes by the time users come around. Why do you think no one sees this coming?

If I was doing this, I will always start with the assumption that users don’t want to change and will never ever change at the speed which we expect them to. We need to trust our users to fail us most of the times. Once we do that, we can then plan for the failure and set the expectations for that scenario. Do that and very few transformation programs will fail or at least will not be seen as failures.

We have to be honest and brutal when it comes to setting expectations around change programs. If we start living in the Utopian world then we are bound to be surprised..

and yes, treating users as customer will help !

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