In 1962 the book “Diffusions of Innovations” came out. It was a phrase coined by communications professor Everett Rogers to explain how, why, and at what rate new ideas and technology is spread through cultures. Rogers explained in his book that four main elements are responsible for spreading a new idea – the innovation, time, communication channels, and a social system.
A true innovator is someone who has the guts to be the first with a new idea and be fearless enough to stand up and defend that idea when everyone else thinks it’s crazy. The more radical the innovation is, the more likely you are to be ridiculed in the very beginning. Inventors are constantly pushing the envelope of what’s possible.
As an inventor sometimes I’ve felt like the only people who could really understand me are other inventors. Inventors are able to see what others miss, until of course, that new idea hits critical mass thanks to the trendsetting, early adopters.
Rogers lists the adopters of a new product as innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. Most people are very conscious about what other people think of them and hesitate to be the first one to try something until it catches on with the majority.
Early adopters of the Croc shoe weren’t wearing them because they were a fashion statement. Doctors, nurses, boaters, and restaurant workers were among the early adopters because they were super comfortable for people who were on their feet all day. But once they hit a critical mass that all changed.
The early adopters of the Croc shoe became evangelists. For an ugly shoe that started out as a footwear alternative for boaters, Crocs soon caught on as a mainstream fad, and the rest is history. They went on to sell millions.
What type of adopter are you?