Keep The Training Wheels On

When you first learned how to ride a bike, did someone explain to you that your wheels had 36 spokes, your chain had 116 links and your seat was adjustable 6 inches up or down?

Of course not.

They sat you on the bike, put your hands on the handlebars, your feet on the pedals and said "Start peddling!" as they ran behind you.

As it turns out, that's also a great way to improve software adoption.  

Yet, almost every software demo or training call is handled in the opposite fashion.

A trainer typically blitzes through all 300 features of a product by clicking around the screen faster than anyone can follow. After about 5 minutes of this, everyone checks out and software adoption is doomed before it even starts.

The solution to this problem can be found in the concept of "less is more". Choose something simple that the software does that solves a real problem that your audience has. Then show them the minimum number of steps they need to take to perform the task. And then get out of their way and let them do it.

Avoid spending 10 minutes with a general user interface overview. Resist the urge to show cool tips, advanced features and nifty workarounds.

Just put the kid on the bike and let them ride it.

With software as with bikes, you don't need to tell them everything. They'll figure out how to adjust the seat, how to put the chain back on when it falls off and how to fix a flat tire when they need to.

Just make sure that someone is running behind them to provide support when they need it.

If you're not getting ROI from your existing software tools or you're about to invest in something new, keep the training wheels on and focus on delivering immediate value in short sessions that focus on real problems -- not features.