The Six Stages of Technological Acceptance | October 13, 2005
You would start off with denial, claiming that accessibility wasn’t an issue that you needed to be aware of. You would then move into anger, being annoyed that you were forced to do something you didn’t want to do. You would then start bargaining; “how about if I only reach single-A conformance?”. You would next hit depression, being frustrated about how difficult things were. And lastly, you would come to acceptance making accessibility part of your every day life.
I’ve been doing a lot of CSS training recently and one of the things I talk about is how web standards have started to hit the mainstream over the last 18 months. Many of the people who used to deny the usefulness of CSS or got angry about it have started to accept its relevance and even get enthusiastic about it. The very same people who would argue with me on mailing lists about how rubbish CSS was and how it would never take off, are now asking questions on CSS, building sites using CSS and even showing others how cool it is.
However I’ve been talking to a lot of people about Ajax and other Web 2.0 type topics in the run up to d.Construct and I’m experiencing a similar level of push-back as I experienced with CSS and web standards 3-4 years ago. People either seem to be blissfully unaware of what is going on, in denial (and that’s not a river in Egypt honey), angry about it, or really into it.
In the field of change management, there are three basic phases people go through. The first phase is called “unfreezing” whereby people start to break out of their existing mindset. This period involves breaking down barriers, overcoming defence mechanisms and finally realising that change is going to happen. The next stage is a time of uncertainty where the person knows that change is happening but doesn’t know how to deal with it. This stage is typified by anger, confusion and frustration. The third and final stage is freezing, whereby the new mindset is accepted and new patterns are built.
So this got me thinking and I came up with my own six stages of technological acceptance.
Blissful Ignorance - People seem to start in a state of blissful ignorance. They are not aware of what is going on around them and frankly don’t care.
Denial - People have heard about this new technology, but it’ll never take off and its not something they will ever need to know.
Anger - People don’t get why everybody else thinks the technology is interesting and they don’t, so they get angry.
Acceptance - Finally people come to the conclusion that if enough people think the technology is interesting, they better start learning about it or risk being left behind.
Understanding - The light-bulb goes on and people start to get why the new technology is so interesting.
Enthusiasm - People get good at the new ways of thinking and actually start getting other people interested in the technology.
Does these stages seem like an accurate description of the process people go though? Do they match the experiences you’ve had? Maybe with people on a mailing list or members of your own team?
Posted at October 13, 2005 4:47 PM