One of the more useful models we all seemed to learn in business school was the diffusion process (attributed to Everett Rogers?) which is the process by which a new product or service is accepted by the market.
In this model there are 5 categories of adopters:
– Innovators (2.5%)
– Early Adopters (13.5%)
– Early Majority (34%)
– Late Majority (34%) and
– The Laggards (16%).
Although the percentages are not to be taken too literally it does provide a valuable framework to look at who might purchase your product and when (all going well).
As you can see it is vital to attract the first two categories.
But this model can also be used when considering your employee market for innovation.
Innovation by its very nature involves change.
And for many managers, leaders and employees this can be threatening.
So a good plan is to try and identify who are the innovators and early adopters in your business.
If you can then you can focus on these people to help you introduce any new innovation programs.
One way to identify your innovators is simply to ask a simple question.
Who in your team consistently creates new and different ideas?
This creates a peer-nomination process which identifies your potential innovation champions and is a powerful recognition program in itself.
As a leader you can then challenge this group of people with a new project with a specific budget and timeline.
This will be great for the business and the innovators.
Innovation leadership means trying to play to the strengths of all your team. Some managers love working with ideas and others have a preference for testing these new ideas.
If you know which people fit in which category, as an innovation leader you will achieve greater innovation results and more engagement.