Implementation dip

In his comment last week, Jack Phelps, founder of (which looks interesting, by the way!), noted that there’s always an adoption curve. The challenge, of course, is to reduce that curve as much as we can. There always will be an implementation dip. Our task as leaders is to make the dip as short and shallow as possible.

I wish we could get rid of these adoption curves and implementation dips altogether, but they’re an inevitable part of human nature. However, as Kathy Sierra noted in the diagram below, we need to somehow figure out how to change faster…


8 Responses to “Implementation dip”

  1. The implementation curve may shorten if you can find the people who are the risk takers. People who are curious about what is on the other side of the big frikin’ wall. Find the ones who see the wall as a challenge. When peers are on the other side the others will be more quick to implement the new strategy as it becomes the norm.

  2. I call it the ‘Tech Curve’ with my teachers and students: The time it takes to equal the productivity you had before starting something new. The best way I’ve found to speed the process is having a real task you’re working towards on the other side. When you’re focused on the task, the dip doesn’t feel so deep.

  3. Thanks for the referral, Scott! Linking makes the the blogging world go ’round.

    This is a great call to action. Right now we’re still in the bleeding-edge stage of adoption for real tech initiatives (like 1:1 computing, meaningful distance learning, etc.), and we techies all need to hurry up and support the “implementation dip” so nobody falls too low. Then we’ll be able to move to where it’s considered “cutting edge”, and eventually a bare necessity.

  4. I have long maintained that we face deep adoption curves because we teach to specific hardware/software rather than helping learn general concepts.

    For example, our district has taught Word Fundamentals for many years (decades?), altering the course every year to fit whatever version was declared “standard” by the IT folks (another issue I could work up a good rant about :-). Instead of teaching the program, we should have been helping people understand the fundamental concepts of using a computer to create and communicate.

    As a result, I get many teachers in my sessions who are just amazed that cut, copy, and paste applies in image, video, and audio editing programs. It wouldn’t be so hard for them to move to these new tools for creating and communicating if we hadn’t been so specific in their basic training and encouraged experimenting instead of rote learning.

  5. IMO the implementation curve rides on the administrators’ shoulders. I was a classroom teacher for 32 years and the technology mentor for 5 years before retirement. If administration hasn’t bought into technology and “pushes” and encourages staff to try the technology available an average teacher will use it very little, unless technology is used to play games and entertain the students. The ideal situation is to have a technology category in their evaluation folder. Education is the only “business” where technology isn’t expected to be used as a part of the job.

    Districts need to encourage staff by giving paid time to be acclimated to tech usage. A mentor, as I was, needs to encourage usage by concentrating on the one piece of software that will help make a teacher’s job easier. Usually, you can ask what their favorite software might be and then group staff into training groups. The secret lies in getting usage from a small group and have them share with their peers. The curve rides mostly on the leadership of a few to cause many to use the technology.

  6. Tim–if you’re still reading, good point! A good technologist always teaches users to think for themselves about technology, if nothing else because it reduces the amount of support work that has to go on. If you’re providing a valuable product or service, you want users who are smart and can understand why you’re better than the competition. Nothing has been more frustrating for me as I’ve moved from the corporate world into the educational one than the fact that school administrators are rarely sophisticated buyers of technology.


  1. Data and Analysis of a High School 1:1 iPad Program. | - February 29, 2012

    […] staff and students would suggest that, like any new tool, the iPad experienced the classic “implementation dip” in late September/early October.  Since then, it’s value in the classroom has […]

  2. Steve Barkley » Blog Archive » Leaders Encouraging and Supporting Change - August 11, 2014

    […] would not want to be evaluated during the time of skill development and low confidence. He includes a link to Scott McLeod’s illustration of the implementation […]

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