02 Jun Understanding the emotional side of user adoption

Successful deployments of new technology focus on people, not technology.

That can be easy to say but difficult to do. Any organisation from a big corporate to a small business, a charity or a school is likely to have a diverse mixture of people in it.

These are the people expected to use the new technology and how much and well they do – even if they do –is determined by your user engagement and adoption strategy.

It’s hard enough to understand your children or partner so how do you set about understanding how your employees feel?

Enter Robert Plutchik, an American professor famous for his theory of emotion.

Plutchik identified eight primary emotions: anger, anticipation, joy, trust, fear, surprise, sadness and disgust.

He realised that like colours, primary emotions can be expressed at different intensities and can mix with one another to form different emotions. Plutchik represented this as an emotion colour diagram.

Dubbed Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotion, it is a most useful tool for understanding the delicate balance of human emotions.

When you introduce new technologies into your organisation you’ll likely meet a mixture of these emotions at varying intensities from your employees.

Your user adoption strategy needs to identify and address low-intensity negative feelings to ensure they do not intensify into their more potent and hard to tackle forms, such as:

Apprehension – fear – terror

Annoyance – anger – rage

Boredom – disgust – loathing

You should anticipate where you will meet the strongest resistance, as we described in a recent blog (but do ensure you do not focus solely on them) and ensure you listen to a good cross section of your staff to gauge their feelings.

Armed with this knowledge, you can plan how to help people with negative emotions feel different, moving them into positive emotional states and help intensify positive emotions.

We’ll be looking at some of the ways you can do this in future blogs.



Image credit: Machine Elf 1735 – Own work, Public Domain