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 Social Intranet: A guide to getting better business results

    This whitepaper describes why the shift from a traditional to a social intranet is imperative to staying competitive, and analyzes the costs and benefits associated with implementing one. You will also find useful KPIs to measure performance and further leverage your intranet's success, raising employee engagement and boosting your competitive advantage. more

  • The New 2016 SMB CRM Comparison Guide

    Selecting a CRM system is not easy. That's why our CRM expert has compiled this new SMB CRM comparison guide to provide you with the information you need on the top 40 CRM software solutions available on the market. more

  • How to Get the Most out of CRM

    Studies suggest that 63% of CRM projects fail. But your business doesn’t have to be among the failures. You can see ROI on your investment in CRM by implementing an effective plan. more

  • CRM on a Budget in 2017

    With some businesses spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on CRM, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you need a hefty budget in order to purchase a quality CRM solution. Not so. more

  • 2017 CRM Buyer's Guide

    Customer Relationship (CRM) software has become one of the most important business tools in today’s world. By allowing you to better connect with new and existing customers, CRM is an indispensable tool for sales teams and customer service teams alike. But with so many choices available, it can be difficult to decide on a solution. more