I used to say that “people are lazy” when thinking about the challenges of getting customers to try out my company’s latest software. I would push to make demos as simple as possible, ensuring there was a positive result for the user as quickly as possible. I knew people wouldn’t spend much time on something that didn’t register with them immediately giving them a glimpse of the benefits they would receive if they adopted. A decade ago I used to refer to the “golden five minutes” that someone would give to test a new product. Today it’s probably more like a “golden five seconds”.
I mentioned my “people are lazy” theory to my friend (and author) Joel DiGirolamo a couple of years ago and he aptly offered that “people conserve energy” was more appropriate. That makes a lot more sense and maps into my optimistic lenses better than the lazy theory.
People aren’t lazy, they rightly conserve energy. It’s biological. It helps explain why people act the way they act. In tech, it supports Clayton Christianson’s Technology Adoption Life Cycle and the biological basis for Rolf Skyberg’s Eternal Truths and Dangerous Curves presentation.
If you think of tech adoption in biological terms the “Innovators” are most likely to get eaten by the lions. It’s the “Laggards” that are playing it safe, conserving energy, and probably stand the best chance of survival. Why waste energy until something has proven to be of substantial benefit?
For me, this also ties into why emulating familiar things generates quicker uptake in the tech world. If you throw a new paradigm out there you have to convince people that it’s worth a look. Start with something they are familiar with and you’re already half way there. I wrote recently about Google’s mimicking of Facebook’s “Wall” in their new Google+ “Stream”. I claimed it was a smart move because everyone was already familiar with that paradigm and they immediately felt comfortable in the interface, ready to explore new features.
For entrepreneurs, this theory of energy conservation should be understood else it could prove to kill your company if you don’t build it into your customer adoption models. You’re an Innovator and you think everyone should jump at the chance to improve their life with your new whiz-bang. It will make them more efficient after all. I’ll claim if it’s not an order of magnitude improvement adoption will be slow. Don’t get frustrated because everybody doesn’t jump at your innovation, it’s biological and most will wait to make sure the king’s taster survives before they adopt.