Cheerleader Versus Used-Car Salesman


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What assumed role best encourages user adoption of a DAM system: cheerleader or used-car salesman? A cheerleader encourages adoption by promoting the DAM system’s benefits and cheers those that have been using it wisely. A used car salesman tries to persuade others by false promises: “Don’t worry, the system is flawless and won’t require any training.” Cheerleaders will be upfront about the advantages and limitations of a system. Obviously, I’m squarely on the side of the cheerleaders.

Not all, but most people naturally resist change. Getting folks to abandon or modify an existing workflow and learn a new system — while continuing to fulfill their current responsibilities — is a lot to ask. Now wonder many balk at using a DAMS.

Demonstrate the benefits specific to the user or users you are with.

Start by answering: how will the DAMS benefit them, specifically? Show them instead of talking at them. Walk them through the workflow diagram you’ve created and how you’ve mapped their original process to the one with DAM at its center. Be specific. Talk numbers. How much time will the DAMS save them when they carry out daily tasks. Automating rote tasks can be a great way to break the ice in this scenario but be cautious not to over-promise.

In spite of the evangelizing, coaxing, and cheerleading you do, some users will continue to resist.

Working with ‘difficult people’ can be, well, difficult. I’m sure that all of us can remember a co-worker, client, or boss that would fit into this category. We’ve all worked with them, served them, watched them… even been them (I’m guilty of calling customer service while in a foul mood). Something Chattoo (2002) wrote rang true with me, “… is he/she a ‘problem patron’ or a patron with a problem?” Let’s take a moment to consider this point.
When confronted by a frustrating, or otherwise seriously annoying person, try not to take it personally. That person is the way they are, not because of you, but because of the problem. Once you’ve consciously acknowledge this, you can define the problem and see whether it’s something you can address.
Recognize that those you are trying to convince are knowledgeable too. They probably have valid points that you would do well to consider. At the very least, they deserve to be heard. If the shoe was on the other foot, wouldn’t you be skeptical of a new system being put into place, possibly without your consent or input? So next time you are meeting with a resistant or reluctant DAM user, why not try and find out what’s preventing them from joining the club. Cheerleading is about getting people excited and motivated to give something their best shot. Listening to their concerns is part of the process. You may discover others have the same concerns. The effort may lead to a golden opportunity to improve the DAMS and garnering support.

One thing I’ve learned is that you cannot force people to use a DAMS.

(Side note: Well, an executive can, but in most circumstances the digital asset manager cannot.)
They have to want to use it. A DAM professional’s efforts must always be aimed at maintaining and enlisting new users. Lesson two, not everyone will use the system the way you envisioned (in spite of your excellent formative user evaluation). As a result, the system must continually be modified to adapt to user behavior. DAM is about change management and its success (or, gulp, failure) has much to do with social dynamics. That means you will come to rely on your social skills. At the end of the day, the more people who use the DAMS the higher the ROI. So go out and engage with those users. Go team D-A-M!


Chattoo, C. (2002). The problem patron: Is there one in your library? Reference Librarian, 75/76. 11-22.

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