While speaking this morning with a client about their portal, the client asked, “don’t you have to do some learning, some education, some training to get people to use the new intranet?”

Big, fat duh coming in right here. Here’s an organization that has focused its intranet or portal on news and one-way content consumption only. They will move to a more interactive, dialogue and transaction-based experience. Of course, you must push people to adopt.

Adoption can be one of the most fun things on which we work. In fact, getting people to adopt new technology needs to be fun, rewarding and about what’s in it for the user. In the past year, we’ve been helping another client with portal adoption. The organization hadn’t previously used much in the way of social tools.

My colleague Melissa Wood designed assignments for users to get them engaged and to teach them new skills. Each one is very specific – as in go create your profile so people know what questions you can answer, knowledge you posses, or interests you have. Or, add a post to a discussion group, email a post, or subscribe to a feed.

Those who complete the task are entered into a drawing for prizes. But the fun and adoption doesn’t stop there. Melissa has sometimes videotaped the actual drawing and posted the video on the portal. You must go to the portal and view the video to find out if you won. Winners are later videotaped and the video posted as news items.

At every turn, we look for creative ways to make employees try new things. Whether it’s a treasure hunt, a task assignment, a test, or a teaching opportunity – as long as it makes people try, that is what we’re after.

But you have to make adoption personal too. To that end, we like to see clients create a street team –  a global group of people charged with mentoring others, communicating and serving as evangelists. Select people in every place where your company is and give them special tools to help others learn and adopt.

We like street team members to create short, how-to videos that feature their own computer screens and their face as they teach a simple new technique.

What we find is that people like to learn in small bites from people they know. The videos are easy to create and post, small in size, and pretty fun to develop. Seeing an executive teach how to overlay a project calendar on your own calendar is really motivating. People want to try. And trying is the name of the adoption game.

Remember, adoption isn’t about telling them about what’s new. It’s about getting them to DO new things.