Welcome to the Innovation Essentials Journey


Any writing on innovation needs to cover some essentials. And that is exactly what this journey does – with some extras! We’ll look at how innovations spread – diffusion; how they gain traction – adoption; the often missed aspect of resistance; and how to avoid innovation theatre.

We’ll get a deeper knowledge of the challenges and solutions to diffusion and adoption. And do so in a different from normal way: a network-first manner. Bass, Rogers, Moore, Gladwell (the tipping point) and the big/little hire of Christensen’s jobs to be done theory are all looked at. As well as a grounding on the types of resistance and what can cause it. Just remember the first version, and ultimate failure, of Google Glass.

First, we’ll expose a new definition of innovation. One that is built out from service-dominamt logic and a new view of value.  Focused around helping beneficiaries make progress (functional and non-functional) better than they can currently.

And, we’ll explore something that many of us miss. Or simply don’t know of. Innovation resistance. We tend to believe that all innovation is good and we just need to get it diffused and adopted. But beneficiaries often resist innovation. Why? And What can we do? We’ll find out.

Moreover, we need to make sure our innovation activities don’t descend into innovation theatre. That is, performing activities that ultimately lead to no tangible outcome. You’ll recognise the feel good factor of running an innovation campaign across your enterprise but really the tangible returns have been low? That’s innovation theatre.

As we close this journey we’ll look at some of the maths behind Bass’ diffusion model. You don’t need to dig into this. But it’s kind of fun, and has all sorts of applications. And finally, we’ll take a quick peek on how network structures can alter the diffusion rates. Which implies we can harness network theory to our advantage (influencers, anyone?)

Let's define innovation, avoiding the trap of value-in-exchange (that normal definitions have) and open our thinking up for wider success.

Innovation is creating and offering a new (to the organisation, market/industry, or world) value proposition:

  1. that helps a beneficiary make progress better than they can currently
  2. that improves during, or as a result of, the naturally occurring value co-creation
  3. which is delivered through the scalable and sustainable co-ordination of skills and resources (often across an ecosystem)
  4. and where resistance is minimised

Note, in particular, how our service-dominant logic lens steers us to focus differently on value. compared to normal old-school definitions

Reading time <11 mins

Innovations diffuse - knowledge spreads - across a social system through communication channels over time.

We'll take a network-centric view of diffusion and see how Bass' model and Rogers' adoption curve help us understand diffusion

Then we'll look at Moore's crossing the chasm and Maloney's 16% rule to understand some issues. And finally look at the tipping point, and Gladwell's mavens, connectors and salesmen.

Reading time <14 mins

Innovation adoption is when individuals or organisations decide and start using an innovation.

We'll look at the classic adopter types, the adoption decision steps, and how adoption can be accelerated

But also we'll put the adoption decision in the context Christensen's Job theory (big and little hires). And see how resistance to innovation should be included in the classic adoption steps

Reading time <14 mins

Innovation theatre is where we perform innovation activities that sadly end up delivering no tangible results.

Calls to action, hackathons, open innovation, innovation spaces/rooms, appointing chief innovation officers, claiming to be an accelerator, building silicon valley outposts - all these, and more, risk being no more than innovation theatre

Most organisations don't set out to perform innovation theatre. But by focussing on creativity that is what they achieve (and we know that 94% of executives are unhappy with innovation)

So are there things we can do to avoid innovation theatre. Yes there are...

Reading time <8 mins

Innovation resistance – users postponing, rejecting, or even objecting/demonstrating against – is the sadly neglected child.

We are all familiar with its sisters: diffusion and adoption. Yet, we see innovations failing again and again. And not addressing innovation resistance is a candidate for why this is so. As well as for why 94% of executives are disappointed with innovation performance. Why? Well, in order to get adoption we have to:

  1. address Rogers’ classic adoption variables, and
  2. remove resistance (opposition, rejection and postponement) to the innovation
Too often we only see and address the point 1. Yet:
  • “innovation resistance seems to be a normal, instinctive response of consumers” (Sheth and Ram, 1989)
  • "customer resistance is usually one of the greatest risks to innovation" (Heidenreich & Kraemer, 2015).

In this article, we look at innovation resistance and why it occurs.

Reading time <12 mins

How should you build up your supply chain? What are the real market sizes of Rogers' adopter types? When is best to launch the next generation of your innovation?

To answer those, we take a deeper look at the mathematics behind Bass' Diffusion Model

The maths helps us understand the split of innovator and imitator types - captured as two co-efficients in the formula. That allows us to understand where to apply internal and external influence. We can use existing sales (or a comparator) to derive these two co-efficients and therefore predict adoption. That helps us manage supply chains and real market size. Additionally, we can determine when it is best to launch the next generation of the innovation (and see what happens when we lauch to early or late)

And, best of all...it all fits real life!

Reading time <14 mins

Diffusion happens across a social network. Can we take advantage of that network's structure to accelerate diffusion?

To do so, we look at the network's topology. Its centricity, density, weak ties, structural holes etc

Which. in plainer speak, are the influencers, and Gladwell's Mavens, connectors etc. And where we might need to target a few innovator types, or many

Reading time <5 mins