User Resistance is a Judgment, Not an Action

Updated: May 19, 2010

The term "user resistance" has become a vague concept - a convenient short-hand of sorts - that is used to justify poor user adoption. Implicit in this term are the ideas that 1.) user adoption is solely at the discretion of the end-user and 2.) if the end-user does not adopt your system it is an act of defiance. If you accept this to be true, it follows that the responsibility for overcoming user resistance lies completing at the feet of the end-user. This just isn't true.

In a previous blog entry on leadership, I shared the quote, "We judge others by their actions, but we judge ourselves by our intentions." When discussing user resistance it is very important to recognize that we observe discrete actions (user behaviors), but it is not until we assign our judgment that they become "user resistance". When we judge an action to be "user resistance" it has serious implications:

  • It blames the user. By shifting responsibility for IT adoption from the implementation & management team to the end-user, we have created a convenient scapegoat if the system is deemed a failure.
  • It helps us save face. By focusing all the attention on the users, we don't need to examine where we might have done something wrong or lacked the skills to perform our jobs.
  • It creates blind-spots. Our approach to change management might have been inappropriate, and as a result we might have ignored barriers to adoption that fall outside the users' control. These organizational barriers could be what are preventing users from adopting the system.
  • It ignores root-causes & contributing factors. Focusing on user behaviors may cause us to miss other technical, organizational, functional, process, data, or other factors that prevent user adoption.

Featured Research
  • The 2017 CRM Comparison Guide: Q2 Edition

    If you’re in the market for CRM software, we’ve got good news. We’ve updated our CRM comparison guide for Q2. more

  • Are You Using These 8 CRM Features?

    One of the biggest mistakes that businesses make when it comes to their CRM software is the features they don’t use. This happens because they invest in CRM with a handful of problems in mind, so they’re content as long as it solves them. But if you want to maximize your ROI, you should be utilizing every feature available to you. more

  • 2017 CRM Software Cost Guide

    Would you believe that 89% of businesses expect to compete primarily on customer service in the upcoming years? With that in mind, it’s no surprise that CRM software is becoming such an integral part of business operations. But not all solutions are created equally, especially when it comes to the value they deliver to your business. more

  • Top 10 Trends in CRM for 2017

    There’s some big things happening with CRM software that you should to be aware of. Technological advancements and changes to business processes have led to developments and new features that are making CRM more valuable than ever. Things like mobile capabilities and greater integration with other software are at the front of this progress. more

  • SMB CRM Providers Comparison Guide

    A good SMB CRM system can be an incredibly valuable asset for your business. As more businesses recognize this value, the amount of SMB CRM vendors is expanding quickly. Navigating the pricing plans, features, and service terms of all these can be a decision-making nightmare. more