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November 4, 2008

Fresh Ideas, Familiar Terms

Brenda Haines | Customer Experience DesignIt may be the world’s worst feeling.

You pitch a fantastic product / service / idea / technology. Talk about the wonder that surrounds it. The amazing things it will do. And, then…

SILENCE.

(Chirp. Chirp. Are those crickets? Yes. No. Ugh! Wait, stop the inner monologue.)

So, what happened?

In an oldie-but-goodie called The Diffusion of Innovation, Everett Rogers categorizes how people respond to new ideas:

  • Innovators (2.5%) – A group of ‘strangers’ or ‘loners’ who are first to recognize the advantages of the innovation and choose to make it a part of their lives.
  • Early Adopters (13.5%) – They are thought leaders who have the respect of those with whom they interact. Members of this group are innovation-friendly, have the ability to deal with abstract concepts and are often better educated, have more income and more contact with change agents and media channels than their peers.
  • Early Majority (34%) – This group is directly influenced by early adopters, often through direct network connections. Their decisions are deliberate.

The remaining adopters are skeptics:

  • Late Majority (34%) – The late majority adopts just after the average member of a community. In some cases, limited resources may drive their reticence to adopt; often, they are waiting to see the effects of an innovation before embracing it.
  • Laggards (16%) – The final group to adopt an innovation, their decisions tend to be based on what has been done in the past. They are suspicious of change and innovation. (Rogers 282-285)

Bottom line: We all accept change at different rates. Some of us love it. Some of us hate it.

For those of us developing new products/services/ideas/technologies, the trick is to avoid surrounding ourselves with others who see change the same way we do.

We need to know what entices people and what scares them, so we can frame the fresh idea in familiar terms. Terms that will entice the innovators, the early adopters and the early majority. Terms that silence the chirping crickets.

(No crickets were harmed in the writing of this blog.)