Red Shift - Accelerating Innovation Diffusion - The REAL Game Changers -> Fix the Basics!

Dear all – about three weeks ago a company I work with in our research network (company name kept anonymous to protect the innocent) came up with a "really really" good digital product-based idea to massively reduce the cyber security risks of staff working from home. The aim was to have ALL staff globally using the idea within 10 working days. They developed the idea to TRL 8, distributed the product to all staff laptops via their networks and then published information about the product and its use on the company intranet page. This was then followed up with the same information as a part of a wider more encompassing regular all-staff newsletter. Adoption is now around 1%, stagnant and everyone seemed to be wondering "wide-eyed" why the aim was not achieved… Sound familiar? This is DAILY LIFE in most of our organizations…

As our innovation diffusion case studies keep coming in and as their analysis proceeds, insights suggest that the two primary „game changers“ for accelerating the diffusion of innovations from ideation to market saturation are perhaps surprisingly "obvious" in that:

1. Efforts should only be launched when sufficient budget to carry them into the (late) market is assigned.

2. All roles in the innovation diffusion web ( must be populated with unique individuals.

From the perspective of any experienced program / project manager especially the first point is blindingly obvious but ignored routinely. Indeed to classify this and the population of the innovation web roles with unique individuals as „game changers“ seems somewhat absurd since they are absolutely BASIC business activities -> provide the needed budget and resources from the beginning.
In respect to the above example there was specific NO budget since the effort was deemed „business as usual“ work and the population of generic innovation diffusion web was ignored.

In this respect the "game changer" appears to be "FIX THE BASICS" before you try to tackle anything else. Do robust cost / schedule estimates, provide sufficient (stable) budget and resources, and do some disciplined project management.

While the Litmus Test (Version 2 available via provides an easy to use approach for assessing and monitoring the „basics“ (plus key actions for enabling / improving them in the first place), the deeper logic and bodies of work are only worth exploring if these basics are in place to some degree…


You are so frustrated by the missing basics and do not believe you can get them in place, so that the only choice is to abandon trying to fix a broken system and instead approaching the challenge in a totally different manner based on supporting the real ways of working and accepting emergence as a critical element in success. Easiest way to do this – take the Litmus Test and work through the line item scores and improve them step for step. As a reminder:
  • Level 5: Launch / Delivery (Maturity: 80%-100%)
  • Level 4: Request for Quotation (Maturity: 60%-79%)
  • Level 3: Request for Proposal (Maturity: 40%-59%)
  • Level 2: Request for Information (Maturity: 20%-39%)
  • Level 1: Explore Strategy (Maturity: 1%-19%)
  • Level 0: Do not use (Maturity: 0%)

The image shows the maturity levels of the case studies in our upcoming article and it appears that unless a Level of 3 or so is reached the focus should really be on fixing the basics. What we must remember however is that ALL of these curves are the result of active project management and especially the reference diffusion does not just happen on its own. On a side note – we do not yet know why the forecast curves for the case studies are stratifying – something to explore moving forward.

Case study interviews are suggesting that fixing the basics – Management 101 – is the most actionable approach and it will be interesting to see whether that pattern continues.

What´s in it for you? Well, think about the example above – this is what commonly happens in most organizations and perhaps time to apply more discipline in "business as usual" from the start first before thinking about trying "new" approaches?

Another side note – “red shift” seems to be an apt summary of what we are trying to accomplish by accelerating the diffusion of innovations!

P.S. If you are interested in learning more please visit us at, our LinkedIn Group at, our blog at, our Researchgate project page at, our Sourceforge page at and our Facebook page at You can also follow us via Twitter: @owschwabe (#innovationweb) and the LinkedIn Group page


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