Like a fine wine, some business books just age better. Some are so prophetic that they are even more relevant today than they were when they were written. Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference” is one such book.
The central premise of this book poses the question, “What is the moment of critical mass that transforms a single occurrence of an idea to spread like a virus—and what does it take for this to happen?”
In my role, I sometimes speak with die-hard M-Files ECM advocates who are having some difficulty getting fellow staff to adopt ECM. In his book, Gladwell offers some valuable insight as to what needs to happen to get the general public to adopt a new idea and normalize it. In our case, the M-Files advocate very much believes M-Files new approach to information management uniquely suits the needs of their organization. The advocate “gets” that using metadata for managing information based on “what” it is verses “where” it is stored really complements their IT strategy. He wishes to implement M-Files enterprise-wide. So, here’s where we can explore putting some of Gladwell’s principles into practice in order to help the M-Files advocate achieve his goal.
Advocating for ECM and the Agents of Change
Gladwell suggests that success (in our case: enterprise-wide adoption of ECM) is dependent on the involvement of people with a very particular set of social skills. Gladwell refers to these motivators as “agents of change.” Often the M-Files champion fulfills the role of one of these archetypes but let’s explore all of them.
- Salesmen are magnetic individuals with excellent negotiation skills. They have an indefinable “something” that influences others. In the case of ECM user adoption—it’s important to seek out this type of person because he or she will “sell” the system to the rest of the organization. It might be as easy as literally showing Bob in sales how to find what he needs easily as M-Files allows him to view all data and documents associated with one of his prospects in a view that is easily configurable, just for him. Bob sees that he can spend more time selling and less time looking for stuff. If the M-Files advocate on-boards the Salesmen in your organization—they can then just let their natural selling acumen take over and influence other staff to embrace M-Files.
- Mavens are the staff members who are the “go-to” for both institutional and new information. They are often excellent communicators. More often than not—this is the role fulfilled by the M-Files advocate. But if not—this archetype is motivated by information and being “in the know.” The M-Files advocate could simply provide the Maven with case studies and training content to stimulate his or her interest. I’ve see a lot of Maven personality types in IT, compliance and records management. Feed them information and let them do their thing. They love knowledge and are happy to spread the word about their new expertise.
- Connectors are the people in the company with a large network and are willing to make introductions. Gladwell equates connectors to computer network hubs. They know people across the departments and hierarchy. These are the archetypes the M-Files advocate needs to tap for their social network and political acumen. I’ve seen resellers perform in this role. I’ve also seen members of “service” departments such as accounting, operations, client services and HR act as connectors. The actual service this type offers to our advocate is their gift for translation. They can speak with anyone above or below them in the corporate hierarchy. Much like Mavens—the trick to working with Connectors is to keep them abreast of the projects you wish to promote. One could argue that Connectors act as unofficial marketers.
If you are interested in exploring more techniques to increase user adoption, here are some additional resources that may interest you: