Review of User Adoption Strategies by Michael Sampson


Michael called his book, User Adoption Strategies, but I think of it more as the User Adoption Strategies Encyclopaedia… 🙂

The emphasis of this book is on describing a range of strategies that will work for second wave adopters, rather than a magic formula approach. He does provide a user adoption model to follow that pulls these strategies into a manageable framework, but within this approach there is still room for these different options to be fitted together into what he later describes as the user adoption “jigsaw”. This model consists of four steps:

  1. Winning Attention;
  2. Cultivating Basic Concepts;
  3. Enlivening Applicability; and
  4. Making It Real.

However, as Michael points out, this puzzle can be extended to fit complex situations, where different strategies need to be used at different types or with different groups. He also reminds us that this approach can take days or weeks to finalise, but then may take months or years to put into practice. As I said, this isn’t a magic formula approach!

I also like the idea of the User Adoption Analyst. Even if this isn’t a formal role in your own project, the job description provides some great pointers on the activities that someone in your project should be doing as part of your rollout. I know this because it pretty much reflects my own role in projects I’ve been involved with in the past, both as a consultant and in my past life at Ernst & Young!

However, it is important to recognise that by covering the breadth of user adoption strategies, this book isn’t intended to be an academic report or even a deep management-thinkers text. The essentials of every strategy is covered in terms of what it is, how to use it, when to use it and why it works. In many cases, this should be enough to get you started but of course there is always room to explore the nuances of a particular strategy further or to understand the theory behind it in more detail. I only mention this to manage expectations – no single book can make you an overnight expert. What I mainly like about Michael’s book is that he has pulled together a great reference that covers all the major approaches that you should consider.

Its also worth noting that Michael has clearly put a lot of thought into the structure of the book, with the chapters grouped into three main sections:

  • Setting the Scene.
  • The Model and the Strategies.
  • Your Approach to User Adoption.

This is the kind of book that once you’ve read it, you’ll find yourself returning to the core chapters in the The Model and the Strategies section time and time again to sense check your approach and to remind yourself of the most typical approaches you should consider.

Overall, this is another practical book from Michael and I’m happy to recommend it.

Finally, I should give a quick nod of appreciation to Michael for the acknowledgement in Chapter 4, where he quotes the tag line of my blog:

“Its not not about the technology”.

BTW I’ve previously reviewed Michael’s earlier book, Seamless Teamwork, over on my old blog.