July welcomed back Formula 1, and with it, fans like myself have enjoyed a nearly non-stop calendar of races. In the US, ESPN broadcasts the feed from Sky Sports, with the announcing duo of David “Crofty” Croft and Martin Brundle handling the main race broadcast duties. In typical sports-announcing fashion, Crofty is more of the play-by-play guy, announcing the race in detail, while Brundle, a former driver, handles the “color” commentary, giving insight into what it’s actually like to drive a Formula 1 car at speeds that can get above 200 miles per hour.

Good color commentators are known for their sayings. My favorite NBA team, the New York Knicks, have one of the best announcing duos in the league (despite being one of the worst teams on the floor). The color commentary is manned by Knicks legend Walt “Clyde” Frazier. Clyde is particularly fond of rhymes, and within a game will break out any number of signature sayings like “posting and toasting” or “spinning and winning.” Anyway, back to Brundle (and I promise this has to do with software, just wait), one of his signature phrases is “ambition over adhesion” when a driver goes for an aggressive move and loses the car. The point he’s making is that you can see and go for the perfect gap (ambition), but if your tires aren’t planted firmly (adhesion), it’s not going to matter much. 

In a conversation last week it struck me that “ambition over adhesion” is a great way to think about what happens inside organizations when it comes to new tools. There’s always a good reason to bring on that new bit of tech—the ambition makes perfect sense—but if that isn’t coupled with a plan for how to drive adoption—the adhesion in this particular analogy—it won’t matter much. You need adhesion if you want an ambitious move to stick. That’s one of the reasons we’ve been so fascinated by this five-factor change model: it speaks to the complex realities of actually making applications successful within your organization.

So next time you’re talking to someone about bringing in a new tool to solve a particular problem, try to assess whether they’ve thought through the balance of ambition and adhesion to actually make it work. And, of course, if we can help with that, just let us know.

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