Law of Diffusion of Innovations

Graph depicting innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and the laggards.

Diffusion of innovations is a theory that seeks to explain how, why, and at what rate new ideas and technology spread through the population. Professor Everett Roger popularized the theory in his book Diffusion of Innovations in 1962. In marketing, it's often very helpful to identify these different groups so you can refine your message, but it's actually an idea I've found helpful in any scenario involving a team.

My core takeaway: You don't have to convince everyone (which is often a waste of time and effort); you just need to grab the innovators and the early adaptors. They, in turn, become advocates and extol the virtues of the idea, providing the critical mass for an idea to explode throughout a group or population. (As a related idea, here's a wonderful video that describes the power of the first follower.)

The 2 most important groups I've found are the innovators, people who are open to risks and the first to try new ideas (among this group would be the first follower), and early adopters, people who are interested in trying new technologies and establishing their utility in society. In marketing, we tend to call these folks influencers. If you can successfully communicate to them and they love it, then you have something worthwhile to talk about and your forecast for success is bright.

 If not ... well, then, you might want to find another idea.

Dave Holt headshot

Dave Holt
Holt Bosse Co-Owner