3 steps to increase user adoption and ROI: #1 Use Simple Terms

Step #1: Describe the business problem and solution using simple terms

User Adoption - Simple is BeautifulI dare you.

I dare you to ask someone to describe their current project to you.

If you take me up on my dare, you’ll probably hear the person ramble on much longer than necessary. When they’ve finally finished talking, you will most likely not have a very good understanding of the business problem or how the project intends to solve it.

Why is this?

Here are three reasons why this is the case.

1. We are not prepared with a well-structured explanation of our projects (yes, the concept of the Power of a Canned Response works here too).

2. We don’t focus on the problem-impact-solution-benefit combo (focusing too much on the solution).

3. We tend to over complicate explanations, and if we are in a technical role, we often overuse technical terms.

Meet Max and his not-so-great project description

Max is in a meeting with a group of people, which includes stakeholders for a new project that he’s recently been assigned to lead. The discussion turns to a challenge that relates to the scope of Max’s project. He decides it would be helpful to provide a description of his project to the group.

Here’s what Max says:

“I just got assigned to lead a project that . . . uh . . . kinda relates to this. We’re in the process of working out the details right now, but um . . . uh . . . well basically,  we plan to create a  . . . um . . . a SharePoint portal [author’s note: if this sounds like you check out my post Killing the dumb um]. We are going to leverage AD FS, so SSO should be handled. Anyway, it will support streamlined access and collaboration on documents especially with the SSO piece.  We are going to allow access to documents currently housed in distributed data repositories. I think the plan is to support both internal docs and docs at partner sites . . . well for most partners as a few have a better solution already. Anyway, we’re also going to leverage the workflow features of SharePoint too. You can do a lot with that. Um…I guess that’s all…<trailing off>. Oh, and we’re thinking about . . . . oh . . . I think I already mentioned that. Anyway, it should be pretty cool.”

It should be pretty cool?

Are you kidding me?!

Max was just speaking to a room full of people that included stakeholders for his project, and he ends with “It should be pretty cool.” Actually, that’s the least of the issues with his message. Let’s take a look at the bigger ones.

[Read more…]

3 steps to compelling resume content


Compelling Resume ContentFast forward to the future.

You have to update your resume.

Your reaction: “Uh oh. How am I possibly going to remember all the things I’ve accomplished since I last updated my resume? It’s been years. Even if I can piece them together, I’ll never be able to remember the specifics necessary to write compelling resume content.”

Back to present day.

You have the opportunity to do your future self a huge favor — saving yourself hours of frustration and increasing the probability of landing that job you want.

Oh . . . and it’s really simple. Here are the 3 steps. [Read more…]

A Reader Asks: How to handle hate speech

No Hate SpeechA reader submitted the following work challenge:

“Sometimes people tend to say things that are very demeaning, degrading, and discriminating against others. What is your advice for those of us who [witness these] remarks?”

Whoa! Wait! Did he just say what I think he said?

Unfortunately, it happens more often than we’d like to admit. Picture it with me for a moment. You’re waiting for the staff meeting to begin. People are coming into the room. They’re gathered around the conference table talking and feeling comfortable being among “friends”. Then, there it comes. Someone blurts out a “joke” that is (as the reader put it) “very demeaning, degrading, and discriminating”. This is hate speech.

What do you do when you hear hate speech?

Unfortunately, too many times we ignore it, laugh it off, or just smile uncomfortably all the while listening to the following internal debate going on in our heads.

[Read more…]

The Power of a Canned Response

Canned Response


How does it feel when someone pays you a compliment?

How about when you hear a staff member saying an inappropriate joke?



For me, these used to be very uncomfortable situations.

Uncomfortable situations are by definition uncomfortable, but the interesting thing is that we face many of the same types of uncomfortable situations over and over again, and this opens the door for a canned response.

What is a canned response?

Killing the dumb “um”

The dumb umHow … um … annoying … um … is it … um … reading this … um … um … sentence?

Pretty painful, huh?

Listening to people whose speech is littered with one um after another is even more painful than trying to read that. Worse yet, the ability to follow what they’re saying is challenging, and you can forget about staying focused on the message they are trying to convey.

You don’t think you’re guilty of this?

Well, how about taking this little test just to see?

[Read more…]