Characteristics of First Wave and Second Wave People

Ever since I first made contact with Michael Sampson I have been a fan of his work. Michael is a Collaboration Strategist and has written several books on the subject.

In his bookUser Adoption Strategies (2nd Ed.)” he discusses First Wave People and Second Wave People. I wrote an earlier post on Second Wave People (see here), but now would like to republish something from Michael’s book that helps expand on the difference between “First Wave” and “Second Wave”:


  • What-why reversal. A first wave person is attracted to the “what” of new collaboration technology, but may struggle to articulate the “why”-why the future oriented picture – to other people. They may “get it” implicitly, but struggle to put it into words. A second wave person gets the “why” (if it’s conveyed in terms of their work), but will need help with the “what”.
  • Different reference groups. A first wave person sees the use of the tool within a self-created reference group, usually outside of their organisation. A second wave person sees their own work, and the use of tools contextualized within an internal reference group.
  • Different rewards. Getting to use new tools is reward enough from first wavers, but second wavers have to understand where and how the new tools will improve their current work.
  • Speed of adoption. First wavers will quickly embrace new tools, and will learn how to do so through trial-and-error. Second wavers need greater external help and hand-holding to make the transition from current tools and approaches to work.
  • Nature of involvement. First wavers have a high degree of involvement in defining what could be done, what should be done, and how to do it. Second wavers are generally expected to follow along and do what they’re told.
  • Dealing with the old. First wavers will be quick to call the old stuff “denew technology_ad” and will move away from it as quickly as possible. Second wavers want to embrace new things within the context of what they know and have.
  • It is their job vs. It could be used for their job. First wave people often have an organisational responsibility to try out new things, and see what could be useful to the way work gets done. It’s part of their job to explore the new. For second wavers, they actually have a “real job” to do – that’s how they describe it – and the specific technology to enable interaction and collaboration is, at best, tolerated.

“User Adoption Strategies” – Second Wave People

I finally got a chance today to start reading Michael Sampson’s book User Adoption Strategies – 2nd Ed.

I concentrated on Chapter 1. It was incredibly educational. In fact, I read it twice. In this chapter, amongst other things, Michael introduced the concept of First Wave People, and Second Wave People.

The best way of summing up the difference between these two types of people is by using a quote from Michael’s book:

A first wave person is attracted to the “what” of new technology, while second wave people focus on the “why”.

That one sentence captures it exactly. Michael also points out that these two types of people have different perceptions of reward. For the First Wave people, getting to use new tools is reward enough, but second Wave people have to understand where and how the new tools will improve their current work.

I’m looking forward to Chapter 2 tomorrow…


Two purchases I am excited about…part I

A couple of weeks ago I had coffee with Michael Sampson, author of “User Adoption Strategies“. After a really great hour (I’ll post more about this soon), I felt that I really needed to buy this book:

I am really excited about this book. I have only had a chance to read about 10 pages so far, but every paragraph delivers value.

I’ll certainly get back to you on this as I read more!

Intranet Truth


All effective intranets are usable,

… but not all usable intranets are effective.

– Building on Intranet Usability

  • So people still have intranets?
  • How To Test Your Social Intranet’s Usability
  • Intranets with great usability
  • Intranets Reimagined: “Look” Factors Impacting Your Intranet

I agree…technology does not encourage user adoption

Michael Sampson recently commented on a statement that SharePoint 2013 had an increased focus on encouraging user adoption.

Michael rightly points out that:

“improvements in features may reduce barriers to usability, but the encouragement of user adoption per se is up to people in the organization who are introducing SharePoint. SharePoint”


I wholeheartedly agree with Michael on this. Bells and whistles (aka features) can seem to be enticing to new users, but without strong top-down enthusiasm for a product/way of working, with a real business application, the chances of user adoption are considerably less.

In his post Michael also mentions his collaboration strategy book, and his user adoption book. I will be open here – I have not read them…yet.

However I know what I’ll be asking Santa for this Christmas year.

  • Increasing SharePoint User Adoption with Easy to Understand Training (
  • Putting Social to Work (
  • We Need More SharePoint Business Bloggers (


BYOD – Run What Ya Brung

Follow the link below to read what my good friend Chris Walker wrote about the “Bring Your Own Device” mentality that is sweeping the land…

BYOD – Run What Ya Brung.

Promise #1 – The value of a Content Management system

Refer: 14 Unfulfilled Promises


In my post “The value of a content management system” I described how the US Air Force Medical Service had added an E2.0 interface to their content management system, and finished the post by trying to find out if I could republish some of the material from the article.

Delivering on the Promise

Instead of republishing excerpts from the post, I have included a link to the post, so that you can read it yourself:

Social Network Enlightenment Found in the U.S. Air Force Medical Service

Delicious? The new flavo(u)r is an aquired taste.

The social bookmarking site Delicious has just had a make-over.

And I’m still getting used to it.


The last time Delicious had a make over was back in 2008 (when it went from being to being Delicious. Click on this link to see a video that was released at the time to “show” the differences. This post by Demetrius gives a side-by-side comparison.

Not everyone liked the new design. Nathan Bowers posted a long listed of “issues” he saw with the 2008 redesign (along with a marked-up screen shot). See his interesting post here. A lot of the criticisms he made, had to do with white space.


Fast forward to present day & Delicious has been bought by AVOS (former founders of YouTube, and after several months, the social bookmarking site has a new face & is back in beta.

What this effectively means is that the changes to Delicious ain’t over yet. In fact, it seems that Chad Hurley and Steve Chen are open to suggestions about the site. In fact, in a Delicious blog post they use a Marty McFly (Back to the Future) quote to describe how they felt:

“What if they say I’m no good? What if they say, ‘Get outta here, kid, you got no future?’ “

And what are the changes?

They have introduce “stacks“. These are groups of related bookmarks links, that users can create and make available for other users. Stacks are demonstrated in a You Tube video that was posted at the same time,

The whole site has been redesigned. There is also a lot of white space – the links are now further apart from each other. And…they have stripped out a lot of other features.

Click here to see the “what’s new” list

And the public reaction?

Well – if you read the comments under the on the You Tube site, you’ll notice that there are a lot of unhappy people, who do not like the new design. (You’ll also notice that, in comparison to the number of views, there really are not a lot of comments).

I’m sure these comments are valid. For many, many years, Delicious has been more of a “personal on-line list of bookmarks links which users have been able to tag”. It wasn’t particularly “fluffy” (in a Web2.0 way), but it was functional.

Actually the best analogy I could make is that it was like WordPerfect 5.1 (a DOS based word processor that used to rule!). Not easy to use straight away, but once you got use to it, it was a great tool!. WordPerfect lost ground to MS Word which was GUI based (therefore prettier) and easier to use.

And Delicious was like this. Not the most elegant of social bookmarking tools (like a standard mobile phone in a Smart Phone  world), but for the hard-core users, it was exactly what you needed.

Now Churley & Chen have added some of the Web 2.0 fluffiness, Delicious is a different tool. Not everyone is going to like it.

Do I like it?


For many, many years I also used Delicious for capturing useful links for future reference. Then I discovered Diigo, which is now my favourite tool for capturing my favourites.

But…the one thing I really did like about Delicious was it’s “Recent” bookmarks page. This listed all the links that people around the world were saving. It gave me an interesting insight into what was interesting people, and I would often make a game of trying to look for patterns.

But that wasn’t the main reason I would view the “Recent” page. I was always looking for interesting links that I could share with others in the twittersphere. By frequently refreshing the “Recent” list I was getting some good stuff. (You could also say I was using “crowdsourcing” to tell me what I should be reading). And this is something that I can’t do easily with Diigo.

The new Delicious still has a “Recent” page, but it is now split into two tabs. One shows all the new “Stacks” that people have created, and the other shows the list of recent links.  It’s bad enough that every time I do a page refresh the “Recent Stacks” tab is displayed, but when I do click on the recent links tab, there is now so much white space (and tags, and descriptions) that I only see the top two “recent” links. I have to scroll down the page to see anything else.

I know that his is not a big deal, but it does mean that Delicious is no different than other of the other social bookmarking sites. And, therefore, there is no real reason for me to type “” into my browser address bar any more.

But wait, there is hope…

As I mentioned above, Delicious is beta once again. So, maybe I can suggest a few tweaks.

Let the user decide:

  • which tabs they want to see by default
  • the amount of detail they want to see (links only; link + tags; link + tags + description; etc)

Steve, Chad… are you listening?…

Note – On the AVOS blog site, there is a request for feedback with only an option to send an e-mail. Seems a strange (and old fashioned) way to ask for feedback (especially in a Web 2.0 world), but I guess they didn’t want lists and lists of flaming criticisms (such as on the You Tube site).

  • Delicious leaves a bad taste in users’ mouths
  • Delicious Gets Sold Once Again, This Time To Science
  • Delicious Gets Sold Once Again
  • Delicious hopes new taste will prove a hit (
  • The Rebirth of – and in Stacks (
  • Delicious Returns From the Dead With Some New Bookmarking Features in Tow (
  • Delicious relaunches with mix of old and new (
  • The new Delicious is officially live – but will laziness kill it? (
  • Can Delicious’s Redesign Make the Company Cool Again? (

ESS (Enterprise Social Software) – user adoption

In an earlier post (“Let’s Share“) I discussed the benefits of sharing information in the workplace.

One of the ways to do this is be using ESS (Enterprise Social Software). This includes employee’s blogs, wikis, and micro-blogging.

However, just providing the tools does not mean that will be used.

Murali Sitaram, (Vice President and General Manager for Cisco’s Enterprise Collaboration Platform Group), has written an excellent post in which he describes ESS, and the value it can have in the workplace.

I would like to borrow a few paragraphs from one particular section in his post in which he discusses strategies for User Adoption:

  • Make it personally valuable:Enabling employees to post, tag, bookmark and share information enables them to create their own personal learning environment and build relationships with peers based on similar interests. Adoption will not be driven directly by what processes they are involved in, or any other formal activity that directs their role. Instead, their use of ESS is influenced by their own goals – which might tie to career development, recognition of their expertise, or professional networking.
  • Make it a community effort:People often enjoy helping others and collectively co-creating something of value. Adoption can be facilitated by posing challenges for employees to overcome. For instance, inviting employees to participate in solving some of the more pressing issues facing the company (products, markets) or their department (customer service, data quality) can tap into the goodwill of employees to contribute.
  • Make it the new way of working:Over the years, companies have changed the means of production by deploying office productivity tools, or automating work activities by deploying various business applications such as CRM. Employees had to change the way they worked as the work itself changed in terms of its tooling. In some cases, we can change the work itself such that people blog instead of creating documents, or share information via wikis rather than email. As people become comfortable using tools for their daily routine, they can become more comfortable using the same tools to voluntarily participate in communities and professional networks.

These points describe excellent ways to not only encourage the use of social media tools in a company, but to also bring about a change in the culture of a company in a way that is not “thou shalt, or else!” way.

I really encourage you to read Murali’s post. You can find it here.

  • Social Tools: Helping People Share What They Know
  • Enterprise Social Software (ESS) Market worth $8.14 Billion by 2019
  • Organizations Must Be Responsive To Changing Workplace Definition

Applying (loosely) the Technology Adoption Model to a Real-Life situation

Technology Acceptance Model

In an earlier post (Predicting User Acceptance) I discussed using TAM, or the Technology Acceptance Model, to try to predict user acceptance of a system.

This evening I was looking through some of my old posts, and was reading this one: ““Selling” something new to the users – a case of how NOT to do it”. And then I started trying to apply TAM to this.

I’ve read several theses (plural of “thesis”) and studies regarding TAM. Most of them involved getting users to fill in questionnaires, and then using advanced statistics to come up with some meaningful numbers for the “Perceived Usefulness” and the “Perceived Ease of Use“, thereby resulting in a meaningful prediction of the acceptance of the technology.

At the vendor demo described in “Predicting User Acceptance” I did not get the users to fill in any questionnaires. However, from the comments made during the demonstration, along with the body language, I got a gut feeling for what the users thought of the technology.

What follows is an unscientific application of the Technology Acceptance Model:

There were 9 “business users” at the demo. Of these there were 3 that were dead against what the vendor was demonstrating. 2 people seemed quite enthusiastic, and the remaining were neither enthusiastic, or negative.

Listening to the comments that the people who were against the technology (see the “Selling” post), it was apparent that these could be equated to the  “Perceived Usefulness”. However, the way the technology had been presented (too much at once) can definitely be categorised under the “Perceived Ease of Use” heading.

I won’t pretend to be able to give meaningful values to the factors. As mentioned, some sort of statistical analysis was used in the studies I read. So lets just describe in words what each factor would be:

  • Perceived Usefulness: The majority of the audience had no strong opinion, and that there were more people against the technology than in favour of it.
  • Perceived Ease of Use: This would be “no ease of use”.

So considering that these two factors are what determine the acceptance of technology by a user, the outcome is not looking hopeful.

What could be done to change this?

Certainly a more gentle approach to “introducing” the business users to the new technology.

“This IS the technology you are looking for.”

Predicting User Acceptance