Implementing Change Ideas: A Helpful Tool

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Darryl L. Sink and Associates, Inc. (DSA) helps organizations design and develop learning and performance solutions that get results. DSA works cooperatively with organizations to:

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One of the common areas training and educational interventions are used for is to help introduce something new (e.g. new technologies, software, or processes) that requires people to make and accept significant changes. So, how can we as instructional designers help the users through the change process? Maybe the place to start is to examine the strengths/weakness of the change itself.

We have had great success with using an adaptation of Everett Rogers' research and teachings on the diffusion of innovation. Rogers' book The Diffusion of Innovations identifies seven areas that affect user acceptance of significant change. They are:

  1. Relative advantage – The relative degree of gain perceived by the individual or group.
  2. Complexity – The degree to which the change idea is perceived to be easy to understand, easy to learn, and easy to use.
  3. Compatibility  – The degree to which the individual or group who is using a given change idea perceives like existing practices.
  4. Observability – The degree to which the benefits of the change idea can be readily seen.
  5. Trialability – The degree to which a change idea can be tested out without risk.
  6. Modifiability – The degree to which a change idea can be altered to fit localized applications and needs.
  7. Low Social Impact – The degree to which the change idea can be accepted without altering or impacting relationships that currently exist.

Our goal is to use training and other non-training solutions to maximize the strengths and minimize the weaknesses of change initiatives. We start by rating a change initiative on each of the seven user acceptance characteristics. Next we summarize the strengths/weaknesses of the change initiative based on each of the user acceptance characteristics.

Finally, for each of the seven user acceptance characteristics, we list strategies and tactics that we can use to emphasize the strengths and minimize the weaknesses of the change initiative.

This information is used to help us design our training and educational interventions along with non-training interventions to emphasize the benefits and overcome the weaknesses of the change initiative. Give it a try!

See you next time,