Do You Know What Your Adoption Risk Is? Here’s How To Reduce It And Grow Your Business.
Whether you’re a corporation, a startup, or a VC firm, it’s vital that you create a strategy for adoption.
If you talk with corporate innovators, entrepreneurs, and investors, and ask them what their biggest fear within healthcare is today, they will tell you scale.
I heard it over and over again at the recent Rock Health Innovation Summit 2012 in San Francisco, CA. And at the heart of any scale issue is adoption. How quickly will people adopt your idea and actually change their behavior? Adoption is such a critical aspect in new business growth that angel investor Esther Dyson suggests we use a new metric to measure uncertainty of scale: adoption risk.
So how do you reduce your adoption risk and increase the chance that your idea will scale quickly? The answer is simpler than you might expect.
Jump has been studying and developing strategies for adoption for 15 years. Developing an adoption strategy was actually our very first project.
In the late 1990s, the furniture industry was rapidly commoditizing and Steelcase, a global leader in office furnishings, needed new opportunities for profitable growth. They had invested a lot of time and money in market research and product development, yet while that lead to cool inventions, sheer quantity of new products wasn’t translating into commercial adoption.
To gain insight into why businesses decided to purchase new office furniture – and why they didn’t – we spent hours and hours observing the sales process with facilities managers, the people in charge of making such purchase decisions.
As is often the case, we got our clue into the motivations for purchase decisions beyond where we first looked. We noticed a curious thing: over and over, facilities managers filled their officers with Frank Lloyd Wright and Frank Gehry posters, books, and sketches. It turns out facilities managers wanted to be architects. In fact, many of them had architecture degrees and still saw themselves as part of that community.
Ultimately, the sales person who treated the facility manager as a designer, by talking about architecture, got the sale. Driving adoption was about tapping into the frame facilities folks had of themselves – “I’m not a manager, I’m a workplace designer”. Turning this insight into products, services, and sales materials, we were able to help grow Steelcase’s business by nearly 10% in a flat market.
Reducing your adoption risk, it turns out, comes back to understanding the underlying motivations of the people you serve. We all know great products come from clear needs, but getting them adopted requires more. Your product needs to resonate with the fundamental frames people have of themselves and the world around them.
Whether you’re a large corporation, a startup, or a venture capitalist, it’s vital to the success of your endeavor that you create a strategy for adoption. Only then will you see your adoption risk go down and your scale go up.