KCF Technologies Blog

How do you bridge the gap between adoption and acceptance?

By Ben Lawrence


You think it’s taking a long time for your team to embrace your latest Industrial IoT plan or Predictive Maintenance (PdM) strategy?  At least you’re not Nils Bohlin.

Nils knew in the 1950s that his simple invention would save tens of thousands of lives every year and cost next to nothing to produce.  And by the 1960s, Bohlin’s invention became a mandatory component of every automobile manufactured for the U.S. market.  His invention?  The seat belt.

Bohlin’s invention should have been an overnight success, right?  Just like you with your IoT and PdM plans, Bohlin checked every box:

  • He designed a tool that was inexpensive and simple to use.
  • The boss (in his case, the U.S. Government) made it mandatory.
  • The marketing department (in his case, the U.S. Department of Transportation) spent millions imploring people to use it.
  • His invention brought more success stories every day of lives being saved.

Hooray!  Seat belts, like your IoT and PdM strategies, make perfect logical sense.  Obviously everyone instantly embraced Bohlin’s invention – as they will your IoT and PdM strategies – and enthusiastically changed their old habits, didn’t they?

Well…  not exactly.

More than twenty years after Bohlin’s seat belts had gone mainstream, usage by the mid-1980s was still a measly 21%. By the mid-1990s, usage was up to 60% – but still, that’s a ridiculous amount of noncompliance with the simplest thing any of us can do to survive a car accident.

Why the gap?


It took decades for drivers and their passengers to get over this mental hurdle…
Old School driver mentality: “If you’re a passenger in my car and you put on your seat belt, you’re telling me you don’t trust my driving skills.  You insult me.”
Old School passenger mentality:  “I don’t want to insult the driver by putting on a seat belt.”

And here, my friends, is the hurdle to your shining new IoT and PdM: No matter how logical your plan or how much proof you have about its effectiveness, few of your colleagues are going to be as excited as you until they understand that you’re not implementing this because they’re incompetent, but rather you’re implementing this to enhance the great work they already do and to keep them safe.

How can you avoid poor Nils Bohlin’s decades-long gap between implementation and acceptance?  One way is to celebrate your maintenance team’s downtime avoidances as much as you celebrate their reactive saves.  Another might be to reward your team based on how much downtime they erase from the historical averages.

In my opinion, companies place too much emphasis on the logical argument for implementing IoT and PdM (cost savings, ROI, downtime, more data, increased production) and not enough emphasis on formulating the best incentives and recognition for their front-line employees to quickly, enthusiastically use it.

What are your thoughts on implementing these strategies?  How is your company avoiding the Nils Bohlin “adoption lag” when rolling out new technologies or maintenance practices?


1 comment :

  1. Dan Warren, Dow CorningMay 13, 2016 at 10:02 AM

    Good stuff! Ben, I have to chime in again on your latest blog. It definitely struck a chord with me.

    This past year I’ve been standing on a soap box and pushing the relevance of reliability, and it’s direct correlation to safety. If you think about Industrial safety, there are really two core sides to the equation. On one side you have the “behavior” side. And the other side you have the “task”, or the work being done.

    60% of injuries happen doing reactive work tasks. Dupont has reported the most likely person to get injured is: A maintenance technician, less than two years’ experience, doing reactive work.

    I think most companies do a fairly good job teaching and driving the behavioral side. Training, staying focused, leave your troubles at home, watch out for the other guy, these types of mantras. But the ugly truth is, we are human beings, and influences outside of work come into play.

    So, that leaves the other side of the equation, the task, being the next opportunity for a positive statistical change. Think about it, It’s really quite simple. The less amount of work or tasks being done, correlates to less opportunity for injury. Then you factor in the ability to plan and think through the task, it even further reduces the opportunity for injury.

    It just seems so simple, but it reminded me of the “seat belt” referenced in your blog.

    Anyway, I always enjoy the blogs, it gets the grey matter firing.

    Take care guys!!

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