In his famous TedTalk, writer and consultant Simon Sinek encourages business and organization leaders to “start with why.” We can all talk easily enough about what we or our companies do (“I’m a lawyer,” “we make computers,” “we help teams connect”), but it is more challenging to think about why we do what we do. Not to bring home a paycheck, not to meet a bottom line, but rather what is your purpose? What is your cause? What do you believe in?

As an example, Sinek explains that what Apple computers does is they sell computers and gadgets. But why Apple sells computers and gadgets is because they believe in challenging the status quo and thinking differently by developing beautifully designed products. What is the “why” of your work? What is the “why” of your company or organization.

The lesson of “start with why” is a key question to consider when introducing new technology platforms and encouraging user engagement. Usually, it is not enough to simply click “Install” and send an email out encouraging everyone to use the new software we now have available to us. What is the “why” of the software, and what are some ways you can successfully engage users?

Strategy

All too often, we click the “install” button and encourage user engagement by simply sending out an email, but this approach is ultimately short sighted, and will most likely fail. The approach may work fine for a light switch, but not for software.

Whether we are talking about a new word processor, an enterprise social network, or a suite of tools to encourage collaboration and connection, your users and colleagues need and deserve to know more. Why is the software being introduced? How can it be useful in peoples’ work? How is this tool different from other tools you may have previously used, and how can it become an integral part of their work?

Develop a strategy when introducing software, and consider having answers to a few questions prepared that your users will most likely ask.

  1. What does this software do?
  2. How has this software already been successfully used by others at our organization?
  3. How will this software help me in my work?

Intent

Connected to your strategy is your level of intent and commitment. Staff at your organization will get their cues from leadership about the importance of the software. Do they use the software in their work? Has it been incorporated into key processes and workflows?

Introducing new software is hard work, and the real work only begins once the software has been deployed. There needs to be a commitment by leaders throughout the organization to make sure staff understands the strategy, to ensure the software is included in workflows and processes, and to make sure staff has the resources necessary and time to incorporate the software into their work. You have to have the intent to keep moving forward, to keep encouraging use, and to keep exploring solutions and best practices.

Patience

Yes. Keep moving forward, and keep encouraging use. These things are important, and these things take time. You are not going to introduce new software on Monday, and see engagement and adoption on Tuesday. People need time to learn the new software, they need time to develop trust for the new software, and they need time to incorporate the software into workflows that are sometimes complex and have been developed over a number of years.

It takes time, but the result will be better work being done in a shorter period of time. More collaboration, maybe more transparency and connection, and more impact with greater results. This may take months, or in some cases years, but the patience, intent and strategy of organizational leadership will provide a meaningful path forward.

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