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augustus 13, 2012

Re-thinking WIIFM, really?

On the 'User Adoption Insights from Tri Tuns blog' Jason Whitehead wrote a post called Whats's wrong with WIIFM? Allthough the post is from october 2010 it came to my attention recently because it was added to the chapter 'What we know about change' in Michael Sampson's 2nd edition of User Adoption Strategies: shifting second wave people to new collaboration technologies.

WIIFM stands for What's In It For Me, which means that in order for users to embrace social collaboration software and to change their work practice, they need to be proven that its beneficial to them.

Both Jason and Michael agree on the need to re-think WIIFM. Instead of selling people on what they get for using the new system, they believe the focus should be on helping them focus on the need to shift their behaviour.

My first reaction was that I didn't agree with them. But then I realised I had to allign my definition of WIIFM with theirs. I have always believed that users need to be shown the benefit of the changing work practice. Yet, I didn't really see it as a personal benefit only. And as is clear from Jason's blog post this is really his scope for WIIFM.

As I always saw it the benefit could be seen in a broader sense: what's good for the team or the company. And what's good for the company has a direct link to the organizational improvement required to attain a higher goal. The higher goal - for example improved collaboration between departmental silos so each knows what the other is doing and they can use eachothers work to cut costs - is a factor that makes users willing to change. Because it is clear for them that to get there they need to change their behaviour. When circumstances, environments and expectations change, so does the work practice and behaviour that was used to be succesful up until now.

When put into this perspective, I do agree with having to re-think WIIFM. It shouldn't be about personal extrinsic motivation or personal benefit. It should be about the work (and how to do the work) that needs to be done in the company to achieve the business goals.

I am curious as to how others feel about re-thinking WIIFM. A search on the internet will provide plenty of opinions that state WIIFM is crucial for user adoption. So far I have not found any others who are re-thinking.

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