Advise to innovators:

24 October 2010

Remember that you are usually dealing with a human audience, endowed with limited time, patience and objectivity. It’s very easy to get so excited about our idea that we “spam” our audience with much too much information on it, too soon: quite possibly when they are in the middle of doing something else, or just want to go home. As we will see later, it’s much more effective to start by teasing out their interest.

(Miller, 2009, p. 16)


Do you have a new idea? Drop it like it’s hot.

24 October 2010

At least 90% of commercial product development projects never see the light of day, even if they’re well run and well resourced.

Even for something as simple as a new sandwich variety, only 60-70% of ideas proposed by the supermarket to the manufacturer are launched, and only 20% are still on sale a year later.

The chances of success are much lower if the idea is genuinely new, rather than just a new variant of an existing product. For example, one study of the “universal” success rate of ideas for substantially “new to the world” products in corporations, in a variety of industries, showed that of three thousand raw, unwritten ideas, only three hundred were actually submitted in written form. Development work started on small-scale feasibility projects for only 125 of these, resulting in only 1.7 launches, and only one of those was a success. Overall the success rate from idea to commercial success was just 0.03%.

Our ideas may fail for all sorts of reasons: they may not work, we may be wrong in assuming that we’ve created something that will be useful to people, or we may just run out of money or energy before we’ve succeeded in getting it to the stage when others can see the idea’s promise. However, even if we have a good idea and all the resources we need, we may still fail to get it adopted.

(Miller, 2009, p. 14)

Resistance to innovations (Fisher, 2005)

24 October 2010

Diffusion is the process by which an innovation is communicated through channels over time among members of a social system (Rogers, 2003).

An innovation is an idea, practice, or object that is perceived as new by an individual or other unit of adoption (Rogers, 2003). Knowing of an innovation creates uncertainty in the mind and the potential of a new idea impels an individual to learn more about the innovation. Once information seeking activities reduce uncertainty about expectations to a comfortable level, a decision concerning adoption is made. If adopted, further evaluation about the effects of the innovation is carried out. Thus, the innovation-decision process is essentially an information-seeking and processing activity in which an individual is motivated to reduce uncertainty about relative advantages and disadvantages of an innovation (Rogers, 2003).

The main questions typically asked are: What is the innovation? How does it work? Why does it work? What are its consequences? and, What will be its advantages and disadvantages in my situation? (Rogers, 2003).

According to Rogers (2003), the following perceived characteristics of  innovations help to explain their different rates of adoption:

  • Relative advantage, or the degree to which an innovation is perceived as better than the former idea. This may be measured in economic terms, but social prestige, convenience, and satisfaction are also important factors.
  • Compatibility, or the degree to which an innovation is perceived as being consistent with the existing values, past experiences, and needs of potential adopters. An idea that is incompatible with the values and norms of a social system will not be adopted as rapidly as an innovation that is more compatible.
  • Trialability , or the degree to which an innovation may be experimented with before adoption. New ideas that can be tested in increments will generally be adopted more quickly than those that cannot.
  • Observability, or the degree to which the results of an innovation are visible to others. The easier it is to see the results of an innovation, the more likely it is to be adopted.

Time is a crucial element in three aspects of the diffusion process: 1) the innovation-decision process by which an individual passes from first knowledge of an innovation through to its adoption or rejection; 2) the innovativeness of an individual, that is, the timeliness with which an innovation is adopted compared with other members in the system; and, 3) the rate of adoption of an innovation, usually measured as the number of members of the system who adopt the innovation in a given time period.

In the innovation-decision process, an individual passes from knowledge (first knowledge of an innovation) to persuasion (formation of an attitude toward the innovation) to decision (the decision to adopt or reject) to implementation (actual use of the innovation) and finally to confirmation (commitment to adopt).

(Fisher, 2005, p. 118)

New – and unproven (Kelley, 2001)

12 October 2010

You should never underestimate the barriers to people adopting a genuinely new product.

Tom Kelley, General Manager of IDEO (2002, s. 165)