Innovation and its adoption

At the moment I am working as a Jr. Sitecore Developer within Eneco Holding, the third largest energy company in Holland. The company is extremely dynamic, has the great ambition to become a market leader through innovation, and is in the midst of a transformative process towards Agile management. Working inside a fast-paced environment like Eneco, I cannot help but think more deeply about the nature of innovation. I have read some chapters of Prof. Everett Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovations in order to have a better grasp of the conception of innovation. The goal of this post is to describe shortly what innovation is according to Rogers.

Rogers defines innovation as

“an idea, practice, or object perceived as new by an individual or other unit of adoption. … The characteristics of an innovation, as perceived by the members of a social system, determine its rate of adoption. Five attributes of innovations are: (1) relative advantage, (2) compatibility, (3) complexity, (4) trialability, and (5) observability.”

The adoption rate is the speed with which a social system adopts an innovation.

(1) The relative advantage is the perceived advantage of one innovation over a previous idea or innovation and is in positive relation to its rate of adoption. The members’ willingness to take part of a particular programme can be incentivized through payments or subsidies, because it increases the degree of relative advantage of the innovation;

(2) Compatibility is positively related to the adoption rate. Compatibility “is the degree to which an innovation is perceived as consistent with the existing values, past experiences, and needs of potential adopters”;

(3) Complexity is the perception of how difficult it is to understand or use the innovation.It is negatively related to its adoption rate;
Trialability and observability are both positively related to an innovation’s rate of adoption.

(4) Trialability is the degree to which an innovation can be experimented with;

(5) Observability is the degree to which results of an innovation are visible to others.

Rogers has put the adoption rate of innovations in the following graph in which he divides adopters into five categories: the innovators, the early adopters, the early majority adopters, the late majority adopters, and the laggards:
Rogers - Diffusion of Innovation