Design Principle #2 for 84% Innovation Adoption – Product/Service Control

This series of blog posts describes the principles relevant for designing an innovation for rapid adoption by 84% of a target group. 84% adoption is the threshold for achieving sustainable change.

The underlying theory stems from the "invisible college" around Rogers, E.M. (2003) “Diffusion of Innovations.” which reminds us that adopters are grouped as Innovators 2%, Early Adopters 14%, Early Majority 34%, Late Majority 34% and Laggards 16%. Designing innovations (and the change intended by them) to reach the Late Majority is a very different game than that typically "played" (which actually only focuses on the Innovators and Early Adopters). Such "designs" depend on understanding our own body of work which skilfully integrates systems thinking, living systems principles, complexity thinking etc. None of the design principles we will discuss are “innovative” – it their blending and orchestration to achieve 84% adoption that is the art of “deep diffusion” we master.

Design Principle #2: Product/Service Control

You must be in full control of the core product/service that you want to diffuse during the period of diffusion up to 84%. Full control involves understanding ownership of intellectual property, distribution agreements, development resources etc.  Full control is definitely possible even if the product/service is legally owned by a third party, however this by default injects various risks into the diffusion effort. The logic behind this design principle is that from the beginning of the effort the late majority will be included in the diffusion efforts and if the product/service changes then expectation setting needs to be revisited – the later in effort this is needed the more challenging it is (if at all possible). Full control does not mean a product/service cannot evolve or that emergent re-engineering is prohibited or prevented – this may occur although relevant adaption must remain under a central control.

While the concept of “control” may appear to contradict the crucial importance of enabling emergence, self-organization etc., we must remember that this is about control of the product/service itself from the perspective of the source of funding/resourcing. The funder (regardless of whether governmental, NGO or commercial) will have specific expectations that need to be met. Indeed – this squaring of the circle is the challenge we face.

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Previous Design Principles

Design Principle #1 for 84% Innovation Adoption – Aiming for 84%

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