Using the KISS Canvas to improve adoption
Paul Silva: “If you put a lot of work into a solution, but no one uses it, then at least one key stakeholder’s problems are not being solved. The KISS Canvas identifies your stakeholders and their pains, and gives a path to value and adoption.”
When you sign a contract with a software development firm to digitize your process, you’re likely afraid that the investment you’re making won’t be appreciated by your workforce or clients.
What if we lose our entire investment on the wrong tool?
What if we lose the trust of our clients?
How much time do we need to plan?
How much time do we need to spend testing this out?
What if we have trouble building adoption or distributing the tool?
With decades of experience working with both startups and established companies through entrepreneurship programs, accelerators, and angel groups, Paul Silva of PixelEdge found that products fail whenever you aren’t paying attention to all of your stakeholder types. He developed the KISS Canvas to identify key stakeholders and envision a series of simple hypotheses for what each stakeholder needs to adopt the solution.
After identifying metrics for each hypothesis, you can follow up at key points in the project to see if a new product is on track. This helps avoid the pitfalls of jumping into tech solutions without keeping an eye on the audience.
Paul says that most new innovations need to address three types of stakeholders:
Payer – Provides funding for the innovation.
Channel – Helps sell or distribute the innovation.
User – Uses the product.
By defining all of the stakeholders upfront, you can flesh out why each of them should adopt the tool you plan to build:
Stakeholder – Identifies personas and their role and interest, and whether they are influenced by other types of stakeholders.
Problem – Asks what the stakeholders’ pains are and what causes those pains.
Value Proposition – Shows how you’ll solve the problem, identifies competitors, and lists out the advantages of the proposed solution.
Adoption – Identifies early champions for each stakeholder type and pinpoints incentives to build adoption, while noting potential cost centers.
It’s a cheap, flexible way to identify opportunities or parts of the strategy that might not work out.
The KISS Canvas can be used at any stage of the process. You might have done some work on a product, but you aren’t seeing the adoption you were hoping for. By creating a new KISS Canvas and listing out assumptions at the current development stage, you can see whether the solutions align with the problems, and whether you have created the right incentives for adoption.
Here are two examples from PixelEdge where a specific stakeholder’s pains needed more attention.
Example 1: What is the missing link?
To boost adoption for a streamlined sustainability sales process, PixelEdge and the client aimed to consolidate tasks into a single system. Despite launching an MVP, it faced low traction due to unaddressed needs for the user stakeholder.
The product was created before PixelEdge started using the KISS Canvas, so PixelEdge decided to build a Canvas for the product. The stakeholders were:
Payer (CEO): Seeks aggregated data for trend analysis, driving company-wide adoption.
Channel (IT and department heads): Spearheading the project, influencing teams for increased sales through product adoption.
Users (Internal users in sales, engineering, product management): Fragmented teams required a unified product for efficiency and communication.
The project was initially led by the Payer and Channel stakeholders, who could see value in streamlining processes and aggregating data. However, the KISS Canvas showed that the MVP didn’t save time for the Users and forced them to learn a new tool that had little immediate value for their work. By using the product KISS Canvas, PixelEdge was able to identify and address the User pains more effectively. Once they adopt the product, data can flow to the managers (Channel), making it easier to quote and close deals. This adoption will in turn provide data and bottom-line results to the CEO (Payer).
Example 2: How can we expand adoption after a successful start?
For another enterprise company “ConsultCo”, PixelEdge used the KISS Canvas to initiate a product, and the resulting application was doing great in the single group that was using it. Users loved the ease of adding data and getting quality results, and profits were 2x-3x greater than before implementing the new tool.
But assumptions about automatic, organic adoptions proved to be incorrect as adoption to other teams was slow. This triggered a review of the KISS Canvas. The main stakeholders were:
Payer (ConsultCo’s Client Department Heads): Wanted to increase compliance without raising costs.
Channel (ConsultCo’s Internal Partners): Wanted to reduce costs without taking on much risk.
Users (ConsultCo’s Internal Auditors): Wanted an easier way to complete audits.
The initial KISS Canvas had done a good job addressing the needs of the Payers and Users. For example, the big push to get every project into a single tool, rather than emailing around spreadsheets, drove quick adoption on the pilot team (Users). Users loved working with the tool, and ConsultCo’s clients (Payers) loved the reports and data visualizations the tool created.
From the KISS Canvas review, the team saw that the missing link was the Channel. Additional partners did not see the benefits of the tool, and had to be convinced that it was designed with their requirements in mind. Eventually the CEO and other highly visible leaders showcased the benefits of the tool, including easier training, more profit, and additional clients. Working with the partners, PixelEdge rebranded the tool for several additional groups, which turned out to be a critical feature, though the functionality was minimally updated. These insights and solutions have broken the barrier to entry for other teams, who are beginning to adopt the tool.
Additionally, new user and payer stakeholders were identified, and the tool features are being added to directly address client pains, further driving adoption and profit for the channels.
Planning with the KISS Canvas builds out both the audience for your project along with how to address their business needs. Through many iterations of the tool itself, it has evolved from simple business planning into truly understanding what every stakeholder needs to drive adoption and success.
Quickly identify problems before you invest significant effort, like missing stakeholders
Accelerate adoption by clearly showing and tracking critical hypotheses, and following up on if they were validated
Build your own KISS Canvas
If you would like to use the KISS Canvas, you may do so completely for free as it is licensed under Creative Commons.
Paul developed this tool after using the Business Model Canvas (BMC) with students, which was an excellent tool compared to the standard business plan. For small, internal innovations, however, it was too much detail and it didn’t take all stakeholders into account. The KISS Canvas has been through multiple iterations and tests, and the results have helped many businesses understand their users and how to reach them effectively.
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