Driving adoption of a new program is nearly impossible.
There’s a reason why 96% of businesses fail within a decade. There’s a reason why executives struggle to get their employees to adopt new recycling programs and expensive enterprise software. Habits are strong . In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg cites a Duke University study that 45% of our decisions each day are not decisions at all. They are habits. We do them without thinking at all.
But it’s more than just habits that make widespread adoption—whether its customers adopting a business or a society adopting a religion—difficult. Adoption is difficult because people naturally choose the path of least resistance.
The path of least resistance is why mixed use recycling has been so successful. Separating cans and bottles from paper is difficult. It sounds stupid to say it aloud, but it’s true. The only way to achieve widespread adoption is to make things stupid easy.
In the consumer marketplace, this takes the form of removing friction from purchases. Amazon makes it stupid easy to buy products with one click ordering. They make it even easier with Amazon Dash. Subscription services make it easier again with automatic recurring transactions.
Software that allows new users to register with nothing more than a Facebook account makes it stupid easy for new users to create their accounts. Why force millions of potential users to enter their name and email address to create an account if they don’t need to?
Signing in members at events for membership-based organizations using laptops and tablets have become all the rage. It saves paper and eliminates data entry for the business or non-profit after the event. But screens used by thousands of people get dirty. Sunlight obscures the screens’ content. Some people have never used a computer before. Adopting paper would help make event sign-in stupid easy. Just be sure you have enough pens.
To be sure, there are downsides to making life too easy for customers and members. But if we expect them to pay us or, at the very least listen to us, then don’t we owe them every ounce of energy that we have to make their lives as easy as possible?
After all, if we don’t provide them the path of least resistence, someone else will.