Friday, February 2, 2007

Using Mr. Rogers To Help People "Get With The Program"

The Innovation Adoption Curve And Your Organization

We all know about the Innovation Adoption Curve developed by E.M. Rogers. His "Diffusion Of Innovations Theory", has permeated strategic thought and planning since its introduction creating various permutations such as Malcolm Gladwell's best seller, "The Tipping Point". The basic premise, of course, is that in the population there are five adopter categories: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. Although the theory is meant to describe consumers, it can also be used to describe people with an organization with respect to their willingness to embrace change. Applying the Rogers curve to your organization can provide management insights than can help people within the organization "get with the program" based on their position on the curve.

  • The innovators are the first to embrace change, representing 2.5% of the organization. Innovators are considered to be venturesome people willing to take risks. These are the people you need to get on board from the outset.

  • Early adopters, who enjoy leadership, prestige, and who tend to be opinion leaders, represent 13.5% of the organization. These are the people who "evangelize" innovation and enjoy their role in doing so reinforcing their leadership role.

  • The early majority usually embrace change before the average person and they represent 34% of the organization. This group creates the needed momentum and critical mass for success.

  • The late majority also represents 34% of the organization. This group of people is usually skeptical of change and will embrace it only after a majority has. This group generally requires more time and effort as they take a "wait and see" attitude.

  • The laggards represent 16% of the organization and are the last to come on board. They are usually suspicious of change, tradition bound, and conservative. Some of this group will never accept new ways of doing things. The status quo has a strong gravitation influence on them.

The point here is not to stereotype people within the organization. Rather it is a tool to understand the underlying dynamics that effect an organization and its desire to impart innovation and change.

So let Mr. Rogers help people "get with the program".