EXTEND - STAGE 5

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One successful trial of a planned change may disappear without a trace in a year or two unless it comes to be accepted by the system as a whole. Fortunately, there is a very large body of research on how organizations and societies adopt innovations. Any change agent should be aware of the salient findings of this research, including both the predictable processes at the individual, group, and system levels.

Gaining Deeper and Wider Acceptance

Real change does not result from a single trial, however successful. We can only say real "change" has happened when it is continued. When it is repeated at the same place and different places, and when we can extend these actions and their benefits to an ever-widening circle of others.


The preceding five stages identified procedures that the change agent should follow in preparing for a program of change. These early phases included: 


  • Delineating a concern, what seems to be disturbing the status quo;
  • Establishing a working relationship between change agent and client;
  • Working with the client system to change the concern into a diagnosis;
  • Acquiring information and resources that match the problem(s);
  • Deciding on a potential  solution and given it a successful trial.

At this point the groundwork has been laid for the actual installation of the innovation in the client system. Now is the time for transforming the trial into a successful system-wide change.  It is in this phase that you find out whether or not you have a workable solution that can be accepted and used effectively by all the members of the client system. In the main sections of Stage 5, we will consider five inter-related issues:


  1. How individuals accept innovations.
  2. How groups accept innovations.
  3. How to go deeper: solidifying adoption.
  4. How to go wider: diffusion strategies.
  5. How to extend and stay flexible

5.1 Acceptance by the individual

During the period of installation, each individual who will be involved in the change program must be allowed to become familiar with the innovation; he or she must learn how to use it and must come to accept it as a part of his or her routine behavior. This process usually follows a six-step sequence:


awareness >> interest >> evaluation >> trial >> adoption >> integration.


The change agent can play a key role in helping at each step.


5.2 Acceptance by the group

People typically accept change as members of social groups, i.e., family, neighborhood, school, community. How innovation is adopted by larger social unit is related to individual adoption with important differences. The change agent has a big role to play in facilitating acceptance by these larger entities.


5.3 How to go deeper: Solidifying adoption

Repetition, re-adaptation, and integration into the on-going life of the user system are all necessary to solidify the adoption of anything new. Both technical and administrative support must be established and the innovation must come to be seen as "just part of the way we do things around here."


5.4 How to go wider: Diffusion strategies

The key to gaining wider acceptance lies in how well the new ideas are communicated. The relevant "facts" about the innovation must be conveyed to the relevant audiences clearly and accurately. In addition to the "facts," you as the change agent must effectively convey your support and approval as attempts are made to carry out the change plan.  


5.5 How to extend and stay flexible  

You can’t think of everything. There are unforeseen contingencies. It may be that a change in plans is forced by external events or the original concern is trumped by another concern.  In any case, the change agent must be willing to review and reassess any or all aspects of a change program, including the choice of the innovation itself. Therefore, every effort should be made to prepare a schedule, which is flexible as well as schematic, a difficult but crucial balance to strike



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Stage 5.1 Gaining Individual Acceptance

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HOW INDIVIDUALS COME TO ACCEPT CHANGE AND ADOPT INNOVATIONS

Full acceptance and adoption rarely come when an individual first learns about an innovation. A person reaches the decision to adopt by a very complex process, but we have learned through research that this process usually follows a predictable pattern. The time period required to reach adoption can be broken down and described in terms of "phases." These adoption phases can be used as a guide for the change agent in planning activities to extend the innovation and its impact to more members of the client system and indeed to other clients and client systems as well. After describing each phase briefly, we will point out the types of activity which the change agent can best employ during each adoption phase to facilitate individual acceptance of the innovation. 

The adoption process: Six phases

In this age of instant mass communication, in which electronic messages can be transmitted around the world in nano-seconds, in which many people are tied in to and communicate via the Internet, it may appear that innovations can be adopted instantly. This may be true for some types of information for which an audience is already primed. For example, the results of a Presidential election are readily communicated to and accepted by a mass audience because there have been days or months of preparatory information dissemination including who the candidates are, what they say and stand for, what their opponents say, what various public opinion polls say, etc. However, as we move up the scale of information complexity, as we also move up the scales of self-relevance and behavioral commitment, the word "adoption" takes on an entirely different meaning. This is the world that the change agent must understand and act upon.  The would-be "adopter" must travel through a sequence of learning stages similar to the seven stages of the Guide.    


Researchers studying the diffusion of innovations have identified six phases in the process of individual adoption of an "innovation," here defined as any artifact or practice that is entirely new to the person receiving it.  These stages are: "awareness," "interest," "evaluation," "trial," "adoption," and "integration."


Awareness
During the initial "awareness" stage, the individual is exposed to the innovation and becomes aware of it. As yet he or she has only a passive interest and is not necessarily motivated to seek further information. The way in which the innovation is presented at the beginning may well determine whether or not the potential user is stimulated enough to move on to the second and subsequent stages.


Interest
The "interest" stage is characterized by active information seeking about the innovation. Although there is a generally open attitude toward the innovation, at this stage, potential users have not made a judgment as to whether or not the innovation would be suitable for their own particular circumstances. As they gather more information and learn more about the innovation, the first positive or negative attitudes toward it begin to emerge. These feelings may prompt the user to decide against adoption, or they may motivate the user to move on to the next phase in the adoption process.


Evaluation
The third stage, "evaluation," is generally described as a period of "mental trial" of the innovation, a necessary preliminary to the decision to make a "behavioral trial". Before individuals can assume an accepting attitude toward the change, they need to mentally apply the innovation to their own situation and then decide whether or not it is worth the effort to actually try it. You, the change agent, together with your first client, have already made the mental and the behavioral trial in Stage 4. Now, to extend the innovation to others, you will have to somehow take these new users on a mental journey through the same stages that you have already followed to get to that trial, e.g., sifting through the alternatives, selecting the best, based on certain criteria, and making a test application this time in a sort of mental simulation.


Trial
In the "trial" stage, individuals use the innovation on a small scale in order to find out how it will actually work in their own situation. An alternative method of conducting a trial is to use the innovation on a temporary or probationary basis before moving on to true adoption.


Adoption
In the "adoption" stage, the results of the trial are weighed and considered and, on the basis of this post-trial evaluation, the decision is made to adopt, or reject, the innovation.


Integration
Even when a favorable decision is made, however, true adoption cannot be considered to have taken place unless and until use of the innovation becomes routine. It must be integrated into the day-to-day working life of the teacher, or the administrator, or the user, whoever he or she may be.



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Stage 5.1.1 Matching change agent activities to adoption

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ACTIVITIES TO ADOPTION STEPS

The change agent should try to facilitate each of these six processes. Therefore, in dealing with the individuals in the client system, try to coordinate your activities with what you know will be the adoption stages of potential users. Try to understand where they are at in the sequence at any given point in time. Think through these six phases so that you can try to be with them, not ahead or behind. Be prepared to go back as individual adopters slip back and to keep up as other adopters jump ahead. You should also know when to switch from one mode of communication to another with each adopter. Below we suggest change agent actions tailored to these adoption stages. See Figure 5-1.

SIX STEPS

Awareness

At the beginning of your contact with potential users, your objective should be simple exposure, exposure to the concern, to the need for change, and to the availability of one t or more change alternatives. You want to make sure that they hear and see and that they develop some conception of what the innovation is all about. The image should be clear and positive. Most of all you want to instill curiosity, a motivation to seek more information. There needs to be something in this initial message that will turn them on. Therefore, it should be (1) brief, (2) interesting, (3) easy to understand, and (4) rewarding in some way.
 

Interest

During the "interest" stage, you should expect and encourage individuals to come to you for facts and to become actively involved in the search for information. If they are really interested, they will also seek information from any other source available, most commonly from their associates within the client system. You should promote group discussion, not only as a means of satisfying the need for information, but also as an opportunity to air doubts and to mold positive attitudes about the innovation.  


Evaluation

As potential adopters begin to make their "mental trial," they will continue to seek information, but now an attempt should be made to provide information that will enable them to envision the innovation as applied to their own situation. An aid to this type of communication is a demonstration of the innovation in the clients' home environment under conditions that are natural to them. If they are shown how the innovation will work for them, they will be more inclined to make a favorable evaluation.


Trial

Other types of special assistance will be necessary as adopters begin their behavioral trial. They will need training in to order to fulfill their new roles or to carry out these new, activities. At this stage the possibility of experiencing failure becomes very real; now the potential adopter needs maximum support and encouragement from the change agent. You should also do what you can to help the users evaluate their own experience; the results of their trial may not be immediately obvious or clearly appreciated unless you point them out.


Adoption

After trial, the client is in a position to decide whether to adopt or reject the innovation, but a decision to adopt is not the end of the story. The adopters may still encounter difficulties in trying to carry out their intentions, and the change agent must be prepared to provide further training and encouragement. You must help them to adjust to the new situation, and you must be ready to provide your services when problems and unexpected obstacles arise.
 

Integration

After adoption there are a number of things a change agent can do to nurture integration of the new skills or materials into the day-to-day behavior of the client. Practice sessions, reminders in newsletters, and brief follow-up questionnaires on frequency of use and usefulness will all serve the purpose. Nowhere is the need for inside change agents more apparent than here. 

Take advantage of your knowledge of adoption phases to prevent failure

It should be noted that rejection of you and/or your innovation can take place at any stage along the way. Indeed, a decision to reject sometimes may be a good decision; the innovation may not, after all, be appropriate for a particular client. Assuming, however, that the innovation is, in fact, suitable, there are some things you can do to reduce the chances of rejection:


Individuals must be encouraged to progress through all the adoption steps in sequence without skipping any. The six steps reflect the natural way in which people come to accept new ideas and practices and give up old ways of doing things.  The change agent should keep these hazards in mind:


  • Skipping steps (e.g., trial without evaluation, adoption without trial).
  • Changing the order of steps (e.g., trial before getting sufficient information or commitment to try).
  • Hurrying through the stages just to meet a schedule. (Most people need time to think things over before they make a change that will affect their lives in a significant way.)
  • Ignoring individual differences in adoption rates (e.g., assuming that everyone in the client system is aware of the innovation). Just because a message was sent does not mean that it was received.

You will have worked with some members of the client system in your initial planning and they may be ready for trial; others will not yet have enough information, while still others may not even be aware of the innovation.


Individuals must be allowed and encouraged to make a personal commitment; let them come to you once their interest is aroused. It is unnecessary and undesirable to provide help before it is needed.


  • Individuals must be allowed and encouraged to discuss their problems, and it is best to bring them out in the open.
  • The change agent should try to acquire and offer the client resources relevant to each adoption phase (consider again the D-A-E-T-E-I-M formula for the types of resources needed at different stages, presented earlier in the Stage 3.
  • Individuals need greater support from the change agent when the actual behavioral trial begins. This may be the point of greatest resistance since the implications of the change become apparent at this point, and such feelings as fear of failure and loss of previous security become salient and threatening. Be prepared to offer this extra support at the time of trial.

Quotable:

"The load on teachers at all levels and at all times is heavy, and it is difficult enough for them to conduct existing programs much less carry out new ones. With a person every little bit helps, workshops, materials, guides, consultants, and any one of these may make the difference between adopting and rejecting." Woods


"Effective facilitators must be able to take initiative. They need to be proactive and vigorous, rather than passive and reactive." Saxl, Miles, & Lieberman



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Stage 5.1.2 Preventing Failure

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Take advantage of your knowledge of adoption phases to prevent failure

It should be noted that rejection of you and/or your innovation can take place at any stage along the way. Indeed, a decision to reject sometimes may be a good decision; the innovation may not, after all, be appropriate for a particular client. Assuming, however, that the innovation is, in fact, suitable, there are some things you can do to reduce the chances of rejection:


Individuals must be encouraged to progress through all the adoption steps in sequence without skipping any. The six steps reflect the natural way in which people come to accept new ideas and practices and give up old ways of doing things.  The change agent should keep these hazards in mind:


  • Skipping steps (e.g., trial without evaluation, adoption without trial).
  • Changing the order of steps (e.g., trial before getting sufficient information or commitment to try).
  • Hurrying through the stages just to meet a schedule. (Most people need time to think things over before they make a change that will affect their lives in a significant way.)
  • Ignoring individual differences in adoption rates (e.g., assuming that everyone in the client system is aware of the innovation). Just because a message was sent does not mean that it was received.


You will have worked with some members of the client system in your initial planning and they may be ready for trial; others will not yet have enough information, while still others may not even be aware of the innovation.


  • Individuals must be allowed and encouraged to make a personal commitment; let them come to you once their interest is aroused. It is unnecessary and undesirable to provide help before it is needed.
  • Individuals must be allowed and encouraged to discuss their problems, and it is best to bring them out in the open.
  • The change agent should try to acquire and offer the client resources relevant to each adoption phase (consider again the D-A-E-T-E-I-M formula for the types of resources needed at different stages, presented earlier in the Stage 3.
  • Individuals need greater support from the change agent when the actual behavioral trial begins. This may be the point of greatest resistance since the implications of the change become apparent at this point, and such feelings as fear of failure and loss of previous security become salient and threatening. Be prepared to offer this extra support at the time of trial.


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Stage 5.2 Group Acceptance

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How Groups Come to Accept Change and Adopt Innovations

It is impossible to understand how individuals adopt without also considering the social relationships and group structures, which bind individuals together. The communication of innovations depends upon a vast network of social relationships, both formal and informal; a person's position in that network is the best indicator of when and whether that person is likely to adopt an innovation.

Common things and key people

One overriding characteristic of groups could be called "commonality." A group can be defined as a number of people who have something in common. Typically they have common backgrounds, common interests, common circumstances, common values, common problems, and, most of all, common needs. A social system is a group of people who have pooled their resources to satisfy needs they have in common. These common things bind them together psychologically so that "mine" becomes "ours" and "self-interest" becomes "our common interest." This arrangement is usually very beneficial for all concerned but sometimes it gets in the way when new ideas and new ways of doing things are introduced from outside. When this happens, the members of the group have to decide individually or collectively whether or not the new thing threatens the common good. At this point, all these common values, beliefs, interests, and backgrounds become potential barriers to change.


Social organization, by its very nature, is conservative and protective; it is supposed to keep some potential "innovations" out for the preservation of the common good, and when it lets them come in they are supposed to be "acceptable," which usually means "what we are accustomed to." Thus, the structure of the group is a kind of filtering mechanism. Various members are needed to "sniff out" new ideas, to expel dangerous ones, or to make the final decisions about "acceptability" for the group as a whole. Sometimes different people are appointed or self-appointed to fill each of these filtering functions.


It is worth noting that all biological organisms, even down to the single cell, have these boundary-maintaining characteristics and have sub-elements with similar sniffing and expelling capabilities.


The first step for the change agent who wants to gain the acceptance of the group is to find out what kinds of barriers are most important and what kinds of filters are used to maintain the status quo. We cannot generalize too much beyond this for all groups because some are very open to new ideas while others will admit almost nothing new.


Diffusion of an innovation begins with the acceptance of the idea by a few key members of a community. From there on, it begins to spread more rapidly, usually through word-of­-mouth contacts between friends, neighbors, and relatives. This person-to-person process is very effective; once it has started and there are clusters of people who accept the idea and are "talking it up," it gathers momentum. A chain reaction seems to be generated once this "critical mass" of key individuals has formed, and there is a rapid upswing in the rate of acceptance until a large majority has been won over.


Three types of people playa significant part in generating group acceptance. These are the "innovators," the "resisters," and the "leaders." Because the characteristics of these three types of people have been studied extensively by social scientists, we are in a position to understand who they are and how they work regardless of the particular innovation we are concerned with.


THE INNOVATORS

The innovators tend to be intelligent and risk-taking; they travel a lot, they read a lot, they depend on outside sources of information, and they are usually very receptive to influence by outside change agents. They also tend to be marginal to their home communities. They may be viewed as "odd balls" or mavericks, and they do not usually have a great deal of direct power or influence. Hence, they can be both an asset and a liability to the change agent. These people will have commitment to a new idea and are willing to stand up and be counted even though they may be risking the scorn and ridicule of others, but if they have stood up too often for lost causes they may not be an effective ally. Usually, inside members of inside-outside change agent teams can be recruited from this group.


THE RESISTERS

Many social systems also contain some members who assume the active role of resisters or critics of innovation. They are the defenders of the system the way it is, the self-appointed guardians of moral, ethical, and legal standards. Although these people are "conservative" in a strictly logical sense, they may wear all kinds of labels from "radical" and "liberal" to "reactionary."


Resisters of various orders have been very successful in preventing or slowing down such diverse innovations as the fluoridation of community water supplies, urban renewal, legal abortion, the integration of neighborhoods, and the invasion of certain civil liberties by such means as wire tapping and indiscriminate school testing. From the diversity of these issues it should be evident that the resisters do not all march under the same banner. They are a mixed group ideologically even though they tend to function in the same way. As preservers of a social order these innovation resisters playa big and very often useful part in our society by resisting intrusions from outside influences; they are the antibodies in our social blood stream.


THE LEADERS

Many studies of how groups accept innovations have singled out one very important social role that they have identified as the "opinion leader." Opinion leaders are found in any community and they are the key to the growth of any movement. Study after study has shown that there are certain influential people who are held in high esteem by the great majority of their fellows. They tend to have control of the wealth and power of society. They are usually not the first to tryout new ideas because they need to maintain their standing with their followers. These opinion leaders always have a finger on the public pulse, but at the same time they listen to both the innovators and the resisters so that they can better size up a developing situation. They watch the innovator to see how the idea works, and they watch the resister to test the social risks of adopting the idea. Indeed, in many case they are eager to observe these changes because their continuance in power rests upon their ability to judge innovations. They want to be the champions of the innovation whose time has come. Therefore, they must be able to adopt changes at the point at which they become popularly feasible but before they are fully accepted by the majority.


Leadership of any kind has critical strategic importance in a change program, whether that leadership be formal, informal, administrative, or elective. The school superintendent, the principal, the esteemed senior teacher will all have a great deal of "opinion leadership" on a wide range of innovations. Some act as legitimators, making the majority feel that it is okay to try something out without having the axe fall. Others serve as facilitators, approving and rewarding the innovators and encouraging others to follow their example, getting clearance, providing funds and release time, and generally making it easier to be an innovator. Still others serve as gatekeepers, opening up (or closing off) access to needed resources, funds, outside consultants, training courses, etc. The gatekeeper is often not the top person in an organization and may be function-specific, e.g., the business manager, the training director, or the boss's secretary.


There is some dispute in the research literature as to whether opinion leadership is general or topic-specific. The great field theorist and social psychologist, Kurt Lewin, ran a series of group experiments on how to induce changes in eating habits during World War II. He found that for such behaviors at that time, the female head of household was the gatekeeper, doing all the food buying and cooking.

How the change agent can work to gain group acceptance

The change agent can use knowledge of the group to plan and carry out an effective strategy for gaining group acceptance. But in order to plan a strategy you must first have the knowledge. This means once again making a diagnostic analysis of the client system. 


IDENTIFYING THE FORCES FOR AND AGAINST THE INNOVATION

In STAGE 2 we described the diagnostic process in which the change agent and the client define needs and objectives. However, you may find that you have to make another kind of diagnosis when you already have an innovation which fills these needs and you want to win the support of large numbers of people. Broadly speaking, you now want to address two questions:


  • What are the most important common things?
  • Who are the most important key people?

To answer each of these questions you may find it helpful to draw up a rating form on which you can identify and compare the forces which are acting for and against the desired change. To analyze the "common things" you might make two columns on a sheet of paper, one marked "forces probably favoring this innovation" and the other marked "forces probably opposing this innovation." Under these headings you would then list as many of the group characteristics as you can think of which might affect acceptance: commonly held values and beliefs, characteristic modes of thought and behavior, shared circumstances, common needs, and commonly perceived group objectives.


Having identified a number of such characteristics, you will then want to rank-order them in terms of relative importance and the relative ease with which they could be altered. Such a list would then provide some good guidelines for an action program to improve the chances of acceptance.


From your previous examination and analysis of the client system, Stage 2, you should also be able to draw up a list of individuals who could fit under each of the headings:


  • innovator,
  • resister, and
  • leader.

Consider the pros and cons of each type in gaining group acceptance.


Innovators
The innovators are probably the easiest people to identify. Some of them will already be working with you as "inside" members of the change team. Others will have been in touch with you and will have been vocal in their support. Still others may be identified as leading spokespersons for one or another of the issues listed under "forces favoring."


The utility of "innovaters" as helping to bring about system-wide change might be rated on a number of characteristics such as:


  1. their degree of understanding and sophistication in using the innovation,
  2. how much they are representative of the client system as a whole,
  3. the amount of direct influence ("opinion leadership") they have on others, and, most importantly,
  4. their contact and influence with the formal and informal leadership.


Resisters
Resisters may be identified for having spoken out previously on the innovation or from having come to you with objections. They may also be identified as spokespersons who personify some of the issues which are "forces against." It is important, however, to try to identify resisters before they become vocal and committed on this particular innovation. Resisters, like innovators, should be judged for relative sophistication and influence.


Leaders
 Finally, as part of your analysis of the "acceptance" problem, you should take an inventory of the leadership.


  • Who are the formal leaders and gatekeepers for this type of innovation?
  • Who are the informal leaders?
  • Who are the example-setters?
  • Who are the facilitators?
  • Who are the legitimizers?


The leaders could be rated on such dimensions as (1) their attitude towards both innovators and resisters, (2) their visibility, (3) their relationship to one another, and (4) their ability to lead.


USING THE KEY PEOPLE AS STEPPING STONES

A number of social scientists have described innovation diffusion as a two-step process. In the first step, outside information about the innovation reaches the opinion leaders. In the second step, the opinion leaders pass on the information to their followers by word or example. This formula sounds elegantly simple but will only work if two conditions are present in the client system: first, the opinion leaders must be innovators or innovation-minded; and, second, these leaders must have very good follower connections throughout the client system.


As a change agent, you usually cannot count on either of these conditions and it would be dangerous to assume them. However, you can use this basic concept of "steps" effectively if you put together all the information from your analysis of the key people and key roles in the system. A good strategy might include not one but four stepping stones to gain group acceptance. How this   might work is suggested in Figure 5-2.

STEPPING STONES

The steps as suggested by the figure are as follows:

  • Stone One: introduce the innovation to a core group of "innovators." Get them to tryout the innovation, to become sophisticated in its use, and to demonstrate it to others 
  • Stone Two: begin to work with some of the concerned play of citizens who are potential but not-yet-vocal resisters, answering their questions and showing them by demon­ stration that the innovation does not violate established values and does not threaten the survival of the system as they know it. If you are not able to receive any cooperation from resisters and if they are already vocal and mobilized, you should at least do what you can to protect the innovators and to make the innovation less vulnerable. This means being hard-headed, realistic, and scientific in your approach and having sound and well-reasoned answers for legitimate questions. With these safeguards, you may not be able to silence your detractors but in many cases you may be able to disarm them and prevent them from turning the rest of the community against you.
  • Stone Three: bring the innovation to the attention of the leaders, allowing them to observe live demonstrations by the innovators and to sound out the reactions of potential resisters.
  • Stone Four: allow the leaders to lead the way to acceptance by the rest of the system. If possible, get them to publicly commit themselves and organize themselves into supporting and endorsing committees.

In following any strategy to gain group acceptance, do not forget that groups are made up of individuals and that each individual has his or her own step-by-step process of moving toward acceptance. Thus, while you are working on "evaluation" or "trial" with innovators, you may need to be working on "awareness" and "interest" with leaders. A good program should be planned to provide each set of individuals with the kind of information they are ready for at a given point in time.

Quotables

".. .any new resistance is usually a symptom of more basic problems underlying the particular situation. To focus attention on the symptom alone will achieve at best only limited results." Judson


"In certain situations the participation of defenders in the change process may even lead to the development of new adequate plans and to the avoidance of some hitherto unforseen conse­quences of the projected change ... He should encourage the inter­play of advocates of change and defenders of the status quo." Klein 



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Stage 5.2.2 Key People

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Who and Where Are a Group’s Key Members and Deciders?

Diffusion of an innovation begins with the acceptance of the idea by a few key members of a community. From there on, it begins to spread more rapidly, usually through word-of­mouth contacts between friends, neighbors, and relatives. This person-to-person process is very effective; once it has started and there are clusters of people who accept the idea and are "talking it up," it gathers momentum. A chain reaction seems to be generated once this "critical mass" of key individuals has formed, and there is a rapid upswing in the rate of acceptance until a large majority has been won over.


Three types of people play a significant part in generating group acceptance. These are the "innovators," the "resisters," and the "leaders." Because the characteristics of these three types of people have been studied extensively by social scientists, we are in a position to understand who they are and how they work regardless of the particular innovation we are concerned with.

THE INNOVATORS

The innovators tend to be intelligent and risk-taking; they travel a lot, they read a lot, they depend more than others on outside sources of information, they tend to trust such sources more, and they are usually very receptive to influence by outside change agents (of which you may be one!) They also tend to be marginal to their home communities, viewed as "odd balls" or mavericks. Thus, they do not usually have a great deal of direct power or influence. Therefore, they can be both an asset and a liability to the change agent. These people will have commitment to a new idea and are willing to stand up and be counted even though they may be risking the scorn and ridicule of others, but if they have stood up too often for lost causes they may not be an effective ally. Usually, inside members of inside-outside change agent teams can be recruited from this group.

THE RESISTERS

Many social systems also contain some members who assume the active role of resisters or critics of innovation. They are the defenders of the system the way it is, the self-appointed guardians of moral, ethical, and legal standards. Although such people are "conservative" in a strictly logical sense, they may wear all kinds of labels from "radical" and "liberal" to "reactionary." Resisters of various orders have been very successful in preventing or slowing down such diverse innovations as the fluoridation of community water supplies, urban renewal, legal abortion, the integration of neighborhoods, and the usurpation of civil liberties by such means as wire tapping and indiscriminate school testing. From the diversity of these issues it should be evident that the resisters do not all march under the same banner. They are a mixed group ideologically even though they tend to function in much the same way. As preservers of a social order these innovation resisters often play a constructive preservative role by resisting intrusions from potentially damaging outside influences, the antibodies in our social blood stream.

THE LEADERS

Many studies of how groups accept innovations have singled out one very important social role that they have identified as the "opinion leader." Opinion leaders are found in any community and they are the key to the growth of any movement. Study after study has shown that there are certain influential people who are held in high esteem by the great majority of their fellows. They tend to have control of the wealth and power of society. They are usually not the first to tryout new ideas because they need to maintain their standing with their followers. These opinion leaders always have a finger on the public pulse, but at the same time they listen to both the innovators and the resisters so that they can better size up a developing situation. They watch the innovator to see how the idea works, and they watch the resister to test the social risks of adopting the idea. Indeed, in many case they are eager to observe these changes because their continuance in power rests upon their ability to judge innovations. They want to be the champions of the innovation whose time has come. Therefore, they must be able to adopt changes at the point at which they become popularly feasible but before they are fully accepted by the majority.


Leadership of any kind has critical strategic importance in a change program, whether that leadership be formal, informal, administrative, or elective. The school superintendent, the principal, the esteemed senior teacher will all have a great deal of "opinion leadership" on a wide range of innovations. Some act as legitimators, making the majority feel that it is okay to try something out without having the axe fall. Others serve as facilitators, approving and rewarding the innovators and encouraging others to follow their example, getting clearance, providing funds and release time, and generally making it easier to be an innovator. Still others serve as gatekeepers, opening up (or closing off) access to needed resources, funds, outside consultants, training courses, etc. The gatekeeper is often not the top person in an organization and may be function-specific, e.g., the business manager, the training director, or the boss's secretary.


There is some dispute in the research literature as to whether opinion leadership is general or topic-specific. The great field theorist and social psychologist, Kurt Lewin, ran a series of group experiments on how to induce changes in eating habits during World War II. He found that for such behaviors at that time, the female head of household was the gatekeeper, doing all the food buying and cooking.



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Stage 5.2.3 Working To Gain Group Acceptance

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Detail your services

The change agent can use knowledge of the group to plan and carry out an effective strategy for gaining group acceptance. But in order to plan a strategy you must first have the knowledge. This means once again making a diagnostic analysis of the client system.

Identifying the forces for and against the innovation

n Stage 2 we described the diagnostic process in which the change agent and the client define needs and objectives. However, you may find that you have to make another kind of diagnosis when you already have an innovation that you think will fill these needs and you want to win the support of large numbers of people. Broadly speaking, you now want to address the two questions posed in 5.2.1 and 5.2.2, namely:

  • What are the most important common things?
  • Who are the most important key people?

To answer each of these questions you may find it helpful to draw up a rating form on which you can identify and compare the forces that are acting for and against the desired change. To analyze the "common things" you might make two columns on a sheet of paper, one marked

  • "forces probably favoring this innovation" and the other marked
  • "forces probably opposing this innovation."

Under these headings you would then list as many of the group characteristics as you can think of which might affect acceptance: e.g. commonly held values and beliefs, characteristic modes of thought and behavior, shared circumstances, common needs, and commonly perceived group objectives.

Having identified a number of such characteristics, you will then want to rank-order them in terms of relative importance and the relative ease with which they could be altered. Such a list would then provide some good guidelines for an action program to improve the chances of acceptance.

This sort of exercise is ideally done by a change team or a group representing key stakeholders. In that situation, the change agent becomes the group facilitator, eliciting suggested points for each column and listing them on a large sheet of newprint.

From your previous examination and analysis of the client system, (Stage 2), you should also be able to draw up a list of individuals who could fit under each of the headings:

  • innovator,  
  • resister,
  • and leader.

Consider the pros and cons of each type in gaining group acceptance


INNOVATORS

The innovators are probably the easiest people to identify. Some of them will already be working with you as "inside" members of the change team. Others will have been in touch with you and will have been vocal in their support. Still others may be identified as leading spokespersons for one or another of the issues listed under "forces favoring."

The utility of "innovaters" as helping to bring about system-wide change might be rated on a number of characteristics such as:

  1. their degree of understanding and sophistication in using the innovation,
  2. how much they are representative of the client system as a whole,
  3. the amount of direct influence ("opinion leadership") they have on others, and, most importantly,
  4. their contact and influence with the formal and informal leadership.

RESISTERS

Resisters may be identified for having spoken out previously on the innovation or from having come to you with objections. They may also be identified as spokespersons who personify some of the issues which are "forces against." It is important, however, to try to identify resisters before they become vocal and committed on this particular innovation. Resisters, like innovators, should be judged for relative sophistication and influence.


LEADERS

 Finally, as part of your analysis of the "acceptance" problem, you should take an inventory of the leadership.

  • Who are the formal leaders and gatekeepers for this type of innovation?
  • Who are the informal leaders?
  • Who are the example-setters?
  • Who are the facilitators?
  • Who are the legitimizers?


The leaders could be rated on such dimensions as (1) their attitude towards both innovators and resisters, (2) their visibility, (3) their relationship to one another, and (4) their ability to lead

Using the key people as stepping stones

A number of social scientists have described innovation diffusion as a two-step process. In the first step, outside information about the innovation reaches the opinion leaders. In the second step, the opinion leaders pass on the information to their followers by word or example. This formula sounds elegantly simple but will only work if two conditions are present in the client system: first, the opinion leaders must be innovators or innovation-minded; and, second, these leaders must have very good follower connections throughout the client system.

As a change agent, you usually cannot count on either of these conditions and it would be dangerous to assume them. However, you can use this basic concept of "steps" effectively if you put together all the information from your analysis of the key people and key roles in the system. A good strategy might include not one but four stepping stones to gain group acceptance. How this   might work is suggested in Figure 5-2


The steps as suggested by the figure are as follows:

  • Stone One: introduce the innovation to a core group of "innovators." Get them to tryout the innovation, to become sophisticated in its use, and to demonstrate it to others
  • Stone Two: begin to work with some of the concerned play of citizens who are potential but not-yet-vocal resisters, answering their questions and showing them by demon­ stration that the innovation does not violate established values and does not threaten the survival of the system as they know it. If you are not able to receive any cooperation from resisters and if they are already vocal and mobilized, you should at least do what you can to protect the innovators and to make the innovation less vulnerable. This means being hard-headed, realistic, and scientific in your approach and having sound and well-reasoned answers for legitimate questions. With these safeguards, you may not be able to silence your detractors but in many cases you may be able to disarm them and prevent them from turning the rest of the community against you.
  • Stone Three: bring the innovation to the attention of the leaders, allowing them to observe live demonstrations by the innovators and to sound out the reactions of potential resisters.
  • Stone Four: allow the leaders to lead the way to acceptance by the rest of the system. If possible, get them to publicly commit themselves and organize themselves into supporting and endorsing committees.

In following any strategy to gain group acceptance, do not forget that groups are made up of individuals and that each individual has his or her own step-by-step process of moving toward acceptance. Thus, while you are working on "evaluation" or "trial" with innovators, you may need to be working on "awareness" and "interest" with leaders. A good program should be planned to provide each set of individuals with the kind of information they are ready for at a given point in time.

Quotables

"In certain situations the participation of defenders in the change process may even lead to the development of more adequate plans and to the avoidance of some hitherto unforseen consequences of the projected change ... He should encourage the inter­play of advocates of change and defenders of the status quo."  Klein 



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Stage 5.3 Deeper Adoption

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HOW TO GO DEEPER: SOLIDIFYING ADOPTION

At this point we pick up again where we left off at the end of Stage 4: we have successfully completed a trial. What do we do next? The first thing to do is to look carefully at what happened to determine what should be done differently next time, what should be added, smoothed out, altered, so that it will work better, have greater impact, take less time and energy. In short, we are looking forward to repeating the trial a second and a third time, gaining mastery through practice and feedback on results, and gaining reassurance and comfort from the growing realization that it is easily doable.


If you as the change agent are actually involved in the doing, then it is now time to work on passing off the activity and the responsibility for doing it to others in the user system. It is important to make it theirs in every sense;

  • as some­thing they are doing without your help,
  • as some-thing that they own, that is part of them, 
  • and as some-thing for which they assume responsibility for continuing.

The key word in insuring continuance is "internalization." Where possible, the change agent should lead the client toward self-help and responsibility in the maintenance of the innovation. There are at least six important considerations in insuring continuance. These are:

  • Continuing Reward
  • Practice and Routinization
  • Assuring On-going Technical Support
  • Structural Integration into the System
  • Assuring On-going Administrative, and
  • Political Support

"Many an innovation brought in with great fanfare is superficially accepted, and months or years later, things have drifted back to the way they were before. Nobody may have openly resisted the change. Nobody revoked it. It just didn't last ... " Watson & Glaser 


"Guidance and encouragement, not power control, fosters creativity and innovativeness."  Woods

Continuing evaluation

Some provision should be made for re-inspection and re-evaluation of the innovation over time. This type of activity insures against slippage in the quality of the innovation as well as providing an added incentive and reminder that the innovation is still supposed to be in operation.


Evaluation need not be in the form of rigorous and detailed measurement and analysis, but it should be a self consciously objective inspection and reappraisal, preferably performed by someone who is informed but not personally invested in the innovation. Obviously, the larger the investment in the innovation and the greater its presumed impact, the more attention should be paid to reevaluation.


Evaluation is one of the many tasks which the change agent should encourage others to undertake, partly because it is time consuming, but mainly because the change agent may be too subjectively invested in the innovation. If you have expended much energy in gaining acceptance for an innovation you may not be an objective judge of its effectiveness because you will want to believe that it is being used widely in an efficient and beneficial way.


"Part of any program of change should be a procedure for periodic review and revision. Again, the role of the members of the organization is vital. By inviting them to participate in the review, we deepen their commitment to the enterprise. 


"If they know that an experiment has been inaugurated with the intention of re-evaluating it after a reasonable period of trial, they will accept some initial inconvenience, aware that they will have a change to air their complaints and to modify the program. If they know that they themselves will be called upon to take part in this review, they will observe more carefully and prepare themselves to offer better suggestions."  Watson & Glaser


Providing for continuing maintenance

Whether we are talking about hardware innovations, or social innovations, such as new patterns of management, breakdowns and misapplications are bound to occur after initial installation. There must be some sort of maintenance system to deal with these situations. There must be someone to show us where the innovation went wrong and how we can make it right. Again, because you cannot predict when a breakdown will occur and you cannot remain on the scene indefinitely, maintenance probably should be a built-in function provided by someone you have trained for this purpose. If there is no provision for maintenance, you may get a rapid erosion of acceptance after failures begin to occur. The inability to correct errors and breakdowns rapidly breeds distrust of the innovation and a spread of negative reactions and rumors that the innovation will not work and will be more trouble than it is worth.


Continuing adaptation capability

Sophisticated acceptance and adoption requires flexibility and an ability to adapt as well as adopt. This continues to be true over time because the client's circumstances may change.  If the client is able to reshape the innovation to meet his or her changing needs, he or she will be more likely to continue using it effectively. 

If these six points are considered in formulating your strategy, you are likely to succeed in stabilizing the innovation. But complete stabilization of a particular innovation may not always be in the best interest of your client in the long run. 

Sophisticated consumers accept innovations only so long as they benefit them more than competing innovations. Thus, stabilization should only be partial, never total. The client should retain the flexibility and the freedom to discontinue an innovation when something better comes along.



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Stage 5.4 Gaining Wider Acceptance

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DIFFUSION STRATEGIES AND TACTICS

Gaining acceptance of innovations is, in large part, a matter of effective communication. If you can get the right message across to the right people in the right way, acceptance will follow. But this is not a simple matter. Communication is a complicated process, which is strongly influenced by the personality of both the senders and receivers, the message and the medium.

Choosing the right medium for the right job

To be an effective communicator you cannot limit yourself to one medium. You should be aware of the possibilities of various methods of presentation and you should be prepared to use several in combination as circumstances warrant. Of the six types discussed below, three (written-oral presentation, digital, and demonstrations) are primarily one-way media; they allow you to send a message to your clients but they do not allow them to send any counter-message to you. The other types, person-to-person, group discussion, and training events are two-way media; they give the clients a chance to tell you what their needs and their objections are. The best type of program probably has both one-way and two-way media in various combinations, but it is important to recognize at the outset that one-way media, by themselves, rarely provide an adequate vehicle for gaining acceptance of innovation.

Stage 5.4.1 Writing and Oral Presentations

Lectures and textbooks are still standard fare in college teaching, but they present awkward formats for change agents in the field. Such traditional message forms are effective only when the audience is either captive or thoroughly tuned in and turned on. This will only apply to a handful of innovators who are already aware and interested. For the majority of potential adopters, written and oral communications can only serve to provide awareness and, even then, only if the messages are brief and to the point.


In more progressive communities, opinion leaders will be media-oriented; e.g., some of them will read about the innovation in the local newspaper and may even get to a public meeting to hear a lecture. This kind of exposure may create awareness and interest but it may also create resistance if the message is not carefully composed. A major difficulty with written communications is the fact that the change agent has no control over the conditions of exposure. Words and phrases can be torn out of context and meanings badly distorted with no assurance that the receiver has even heard or read the important parts of the message.


Google and other internet search engines bring all sorts of text images instantly to our eyes and have probably changed the way most people, even scholars, manage inputs of the written or spoken word.  The visitor to this web site will notice how the text has been broken up into separate bits and pieces. The intent is to make the material more manageable and the use more flexible. Click on any highlighted item and another page will instantly appear.  On the other hand, there is a carefully constructed logic to the flow of the Guide and of each section within it.  Thus, for optimal utility, it should also be a free-standing  book.  Similarly, any potentially useful innovation should be available in many forms including a textual explanation that can be accessed on line and in hold-able, thumb-able hard copy.

Stage 5.4.2 Video and Film

Because of the many drawbacks to the traditional written and oral message forms, we have seen a trend in recent years toward carefully packaged audio-visual presentations of which the TV commercial is perhaps the most notorious. Such presentations are primarily effective in creating awareness and perhaps interest. At their worst, tape presentations are simply lectures on tape, but if the medium is used to its best advantages various visual effects can be created to make the message more attractive.


Videos only work if the producer invests a tremendous amount of time, money, and creative energy in the production. Most change agents will not have the resources to make their own videos, but it is well worth a check to see if any videos are available that might help introduce the innovation to the client system in an interesting and lively way. If videos are available, it is always wise to preview to make sure production quality is high before you risk exposure to a large or important audience.


Some videos are also useful as a means of getting a group started on thinking about its problems. It is sometimes possible to make videos on site in the client system itself, to illustrate various problems. In any case, videos should almost always be used in conjunction with group discussions and as a prelude and stimulus to group interaction on the problem or the situation. 

Stage 5.4.3 Demonstrations

Sometimes it is possible to put on live demonstrations of the innovation for potential adopters, or to take potential adopters to other settings where the innovation is already installed. This approach can be effective for building interest and for pre-trial evaluation but, as a technique, it should be handled carefully.


Two conditions that must apply before a demonstration is advisable. First, the setting and the conditions must appear to be natural and similar to those prevailing in the client system. Second, the change agent must know that the demonstration will work and will clearly illustrate the positive features of the innovation. A demonstration that fails through clumsy execution can be a disaster for a change project.

Stage 5.4.4 Person-To-Person Contact

It is important for the change agent to make personal contacts with leaders, opinion leaders, potential resisters, and other key people. Such contacts have several advantages over the one-way approaches discussed above. First, they give you feedback on the reactions of the client system, including some idea of the kinds of resistance which you are likely to encounter, and which you must plan to overcome. Second, the personal contact is very helpful in increasing the "reality" of the innovation. It forces the persons contacted to start thinking about it seriously. Furthermore, it gives them an opportunity to express feelings of doubt and difficulty; it allows them a chance to talk about their own needs in personal terms. Personal contact with the change agent is probably most vital at the time when the potential adopter is about to make a trial. Your presence is required then


  1. to legitimize and reinforce the decision to try;
  2. to provide needed information and help in the trial itself; and to applaud and otherwise reward the trial effort, once made.   This last is especially important when the results of the innovation trial effort are not immediately visible.

On the other side, it should also be said that person-to-person contact is a very slow and costly method if you plan to reach each and every member of a large client system. It is therefore sometimes necessary to restrict these personal contacts to key people and therefore, wherever possible, you should try to multiply yourself by training and encouraging insiders to take on the direct contact task. Furthermore, personal contacts from insiders are probably more effective for legitimizing innovation, especially if these insiders have some degree of opinion leadership. They help get the innovation around what is sometimes called the "NIH syndrome," for "Not-Invented-Here." Resisters to change commonly invoke the NIH on the grounds that "we are unique, our situation is unique, our needs, concerns, and problems are unique-therefore, no solution ideas developed elsewhere have any relevance to us and can be rejected out of hand." Because "uniqueness" can always be claimed with a certain amount of validity for any situation, the NIH cry has a certain ring of legitimacy, but it is a false ring and it shuts down innovative thinking.



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Stage 5.4.5 Group Discussions

Group discussion meetings of various sizes can be used to mobilize popular support but, like the demonstration, they can also mobilize resistance if not adequately handled. Group discussion serves many of the same functions as person-to-person contact, but you can reach more people and you can use the group to promote individual acceptance. Groups have these special advantages if they are well handled:


  1. They increase the feeling of safety and the willingness to take risks.
  2. They move individual users toward a commitment to try the innovation.
  3. They legitimize feelings of doubt about the innovation and about one's own ability to try it out. Once these feelings are thus legitimized, they can be spoken of and spoken to. Out in the open they can be discussed frankly and considered in a rational light. Some of these feelings probably do have a rational basis; many others probably do not. Those that do have a rational basis must be answered by the change agent and/or the promoters of the innovation. Those that do not will probably dissipate if they are handled in an open and honest way.
  4. They give the client system an opportunity to move toward a consensus on the innovation. Individuals who favor it will begin to find others who favor it.
  5. They give potential adopters the feeling that they are actually participating in a decision with the freedom to say "yes" or "no."

If possible, a group discussion should be an enjoyable experience which is rewarding in itself. People who come to a meeting are usually extending themselves, making a real effort to get involved; their effort should be rewarded. Time should be deliberately set aside for informal socializing between potential users, change agents, and representatives of the innovation, especially between people who don't know each other. Good change agents are skilled at orchestrating such meetings, balancing formal and informal presentations, en­couraging questions, etc.

Stage 5.4.6 Conferences, Workshops, And Training Events

When complex innovations are under consideration, it will usually be necessary to arrange conferences or workshops which involve key members of the client system. Such meetings can be used for diagnostic sessions (Stage 2), for identifying relevant resources (Stage 3), for brainstorming and choosing alternative solutions (Stage 4), for facilitating individual awareness, interest, and evaluation, for providing a protected environment to allow practice of new skills and trial use of the innovation, and to mobilize social forces (leaders, opinion leaders) on behalf of the change (Stage 5). Anyone conference could conceivably accomplish all of these goals, but it is probably advisable to specify in advance the particular subset of change goals you want to achieve in a particular meeting.


Major complex innovations probably cannot be adopted by a complex social system such as a school district or even a school without convening one or more conferences or work­shops. The design and management of such meetings is an art, not a science, and it deserves a handbook of its own. Here we can only suggest some general points that should be kept in mind and some of the outcomes that conference planners should strive for.


First of all, consider the seriousness of the conference/workshop as an undertaking. It will be seen as a major event, a temporary system unto itself. It will be highly visible, and it will be costly, probably in dollar terms, and also in all kinds of other terms including your time as a change agent, the time of the participants, the disruption of routines that may be involved, the preparations, the materials, the facilities, the presenters, and the follow-up. It will require careful planning including:


who should attend
There must be opinion leaders and there should be a representative cross section of typical prospective users, but not be so many that the sessions become unwieldy or that participation by the average attendee is minimal.


where it should be held
Off-site meetings  separate attendees from their daily routines


publicity before, during, and after


materials for attendees including background reading, workbooks,  notebooks, and useful take-home and re-use items


session structure and sequencing. to allow full exploration of the innovation and full simulated transit through the seven stages of the change process as outlined in The Guide


session and conference design to allow fully adequate informal mixing and concern sharing across roles and interest groups.


The ideal conference should:

  1. be an enjoyable experience in itself for all participants (comment on reward value of group discussions applies even more strongly to conferencing)
  2. leave all participants with some new learning of:
    • ideas
    • problems
    • findings
    • solutions or
    • skills

  1. lead to diffusion of such learning beyond those participating (usually means that opinion leaders in the client system have to participate)
  2. lead to subsequent self-training, self-practice back home, and further inquiry activities by participants back home
  3. multiply itself (i.e., stimulate participants to initiate similar meetings for others after the conference is over)
  4. lead to more permanent linkage (liking, trust, and respect) among individual members and the groups they represent


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Stage 5.5 Orchestrating A Multimedia Program


One medium among those listed above may be just right for one particular audience at one point in time, but this does not constitute a total program for gaining the acceptance of the client system as a whole. A complete program will inevitably require the use of several different media approaches to reach various groups with the kinds of messages they are ready to hear. Four principal considerations should enter into your planning for a multimedia program:


  1. Think of the types of people you wish to reach. What kinds of media are they accustomed to, and what kinds will they respond to?
  2. Plan to use appropriate media for different stages of individual acceptance. (See again Figure 5-1 and accompanying discussion.)
  3. Plan to use different media appropriate to reach different key individuals (the innovators, resisters, and leaders discussed in this chapter).
  4. Build redundancy into your program. Never assume that anybody gets the message the first time. Review it with them again and again via different media.



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Stage 5.6 How to Extend and Stay Flexible

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Extend and Flexible

Throughout this analysis we have stressed the value of planning for innovation, utilizing a systematic step-by-step approach based on what we know about how people change their attitudes and behavior. However, once you have a plan, you should not be overly rigid in the way you carry it out. You must remain flexible, ever willing and able to change your plans as you gather more data on the client system and its reactions to the innovation. As you proceed you may, for example, find that the innovation as first conceived and fashioned is completely unacceptable to a large minority and that it divides the community, causing unhealthy stress and conflict. Such a reaction should lead you either to revise the strategy of gaining acceptance, to readapt (redesign, repackage, etc.) the innovation so that it is more acceptable, or perhaps to abandon the innovation altogether in favor of another which is more acceptable to this community, addresses a more significant concern (Stage 0), or diffuses more readily.

To maintain a flexible posture, you should always be prepared to (1) readapt the innovation, (2) shift gears (up, down, reverse), and (3) change your implementation strategy.


ADAPTATION OF THE INNOVATION

Even when you have done a very careful job of selecting and adapting the innovation prior to introducing it to the client system, you may still find that more adaptation is necessary. You should be prepared to give concessions to meet various client objections in order that the key elements of the change be accepted. In order to ensure greater understanding of the nature of the innovation, you should be prepared to translate the relevant information into terms that users will find more familiar, more acceptable, and more meaningful.


SHIFTING GEARS

Timing and proper pacing are important factors in gaining acceptance. Therefore, you should always be ready to shift gears, to move faster or slower than you had originally planned, depending on the readiness of your clients.


SHIFTING UP

Sometimes you may over-anticipate resistance to the innovation and may have an overly elaborate and extended program for introduction. When you sense that your clients are more sophisticated or more open than anticipated, you should accelerate your program. The time and resources saved can be banked for later use when the going gets rougher (as it will). On the other hand, don't be too hasty about jumping ahead. Remember that much resistance is silent. When you get through with a presentation and ask, "Are there any questions?" and you get no questions, it is probably time to start all over again. Remember that key opinion leaders will often be cautious at first, will want to talk it over with trusted associates, probably without you around. The innovators, on the other hand, may appear to be quick studies, very eager to push ahead into the next stage or even to skip ahead from the concern to the solution to the trial without paying any attention to Stages 1, 2, and 3. These innovators can be helpful and useful to you but they are not the key to gaining acceptance from the larger group.


SHIFTING DOWN

You may also find that you have expected too much of your clients and that they are unable to absorb information and to adapt to the innovation as rapidly as you had planned. Therefore, there should be enough flexibility in your planning to allow for a relatively long period of time for diffusion of the innovation. Schedules are important because they point you toward specific goals and they keep the whole process moving forward, but they are not sacrosanct. You should be prepared to reset the projected dates for any activity and any stage at any point along the way. Furthermore, you should never proceed to a next stage until you have trustworthy feedback that the group or its key members are with you.


REVERSING GEARS

The common belief that "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again" may not always be true in gaining acceptance of innovations. Sometimes, more pressure and more hard salesmanship will only increase the resistance. This is why your diagnosis of opposing forces is so important. Frequently you will be more successful in the long run if you retreat in the face of strong opposition, concentrating instead on reducing the motivation for this resistance.


CHANGING STRATEGY

Always be prepared to change adoption strategy, and always have an alternative strategy in mind as you proceed, looking for any danger signals that what you have been trying is not working with key potential adopters.

Quotable

It is important to maintain an open and collaborative posture with all clients.  Collaboration works for three reasons: First, it gets the client involved and motivated; second, it improves the quality of the adoption because the client understands it better; and third, it may improve the quality of, the innovation, itself, because clients/users can make valuable contributions in adaptation to their particular settings. However, there is an additional reason for choosing collaboration, which is purely ethical: participation is the best way.to do business with anyone even when it is slower and less effective in getting you to where you want to go because it is the right way to treat other human beings. To choose to be purposefully non-collaborative is to break faith with a client; such a stance presumes that the clients are unwilling or unable to innovate on their own initiative and must be coerced, cajoled, or tricked into acceptance.


After all this is said, it must be admitted that sometimes collaboration just will not work. Be flexible about your strategy for gaining acceptance. Use collaboration wherever you can, but remember that other approaches are possible, and sometimes, perhaps, these other approaches are necessary to achieve an end which all desire.

Quotable

"When a new idea is first introduced to us, we begin to think about and consider it from man different viewpoints. In time, its novelty and strangeness disappears. Eventually, it becomes familiar ... When sufficient time is not allowed for such adjustment those involved in change could become bewildered or apprehensive and develop feelings of opposition."  Judson


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Summary of Stage 5

A successful trial run of any significant change project is a triumph to be  savored, but it is just the beginning of system change. A lot more needs to be done to secure adoption of the trial, and even more needs to be done to spread the effect and the adoption across a larger and larger segment of the client system.


There are two basic ways to view how extended adoption works. There is a predictable individual process by which people as individuals adopt something new, which we might also call the psychology of adoption (covered in 5.1and 5.3), and, of equal importance, there is the group process, which we might call the sociology of adoption (covered in 5.2 and 5.4.) Under the latter we also discussed the pros and cons of specific tactics of moving groups toward acceptance and adoption (5.4.1 to 5.4.6).  All these tactics need to be put together with our knowledge about individual adoption to orchestrate an over-all strategy (5.5), keeping in mind that any strategy, however carefully laid out, must be flexible, allowing a change of course or even a move to an alternative plan. 

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