Employees and technology adoption (5 reactions)

When it comes to facing the manifold challenges presented by technology, the accounting profession’s best tool may be a little applied psychology, according to Geoffrey Moore.

Jeffrey Moore is an American organizational theorist, management consultant, and author of «Crossing the Chasm». In his book, he identified the types of personality that manifest themselves in people when they are faced with technological initiatives. Which firms will need to consider in the near future.

“When you introduce a disruptive technology into your community, people will segregate into five different responses.”

You need to know how to work with each type of respondent (see all five, below). 

Response 1: The ‘Sheldon’

Named after the character from “The Big Bang Theory,” the Sheldon is a complete technology enthusiast. “This person is an opinion maker for everyone else,” Moore explained. “They want to know         what    he        thinks.”

So it’s important to have their buy-in and support — but they will often be far ahead of where your organization needs to be, and they’re not the most important responders to manage.

Response 2: The Visionary Executive

While this firm or practice area leader may not understand the technology, they want to leverage it to build their firm or service area. “They make the big bets,” Moore said — but while they’re helpful to have on board, they are also not the most important person or group to consider.

Response 3: The Pragmatists

Moore describes the pragmatists as a group, because they like to talk to each other. As you’d expect, they’re interested in the practical, in solutions that work today, offering an immediate benefit or solving a current problem.

In fact, it’s the “pragmatists in pain” — the ones with a problem right now — who are most important when it comes to introducing disruptive new technologies.

“They have to do something fast because they’re in pain,” Moore explained. “They don’t want discount heart surgery — they’ll pay.”

Response 4: The Conservatives

The conservative puts off change until they can’t avoid it. “They just want a solution, with no hype,” said Moore. “They never feel they get much, because they’re not good at this.” A good user experience and training can help them adjust after a solution or innovation has been implemented, but your firm will be better off engaging with the Pragmatists first, and then using their example and success stories to convince both the Conservatives and the next group.

Response 5: The Skeptics

“They don’t believe any of this,” Moore explained, “‘Me neither’ is the Skeptic’s favorite response — ‘Are you doing it? Me neither!’”

That makes it critical to get some Pragmatists on board by solving a pain point for them, since that denies the Skeptics the “me neither!” excuse. Once they see that something works, they, like the Conservatives, will be easier to move along.

The broader psychology

It’s important to bear human nature in mind in managing technological change, starting with the fact that people are anxious to avoid change, and are happy to look for other, less-disruptive areas to focus their energy and resources, according to Moore.

Being prepared to appropriately influence the different kind of tech personalities is critical to keeping the right level of focus on the technology and innovation needs of the firm, but Moore also warned against moving too fast.

“You don’t have to be first — you just have to keep up with the times. Customers don’t like to change. Be good enough, fast enough,” he said, though he added, “If you’re the disruptee, you need to catch up fast. You need to be willing to make mistakes — you don’t have time to eliminate them.”

The introduction of new technologies is the engine of your organization’s processes. IT solution providers can inspire businesses to focus on employee needs, help them embrace change, and become more productive.


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