Home Marketing Best Practices The Diffusion of Innovation: A Coaching Framework

The Diffusion of Innovation: A Coaching Framework

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Those in the Late Majority are particularly inclined to feel betrayed if something changes in the organization which impacts on their work or which challenges their own mindset (attitudes) about the organization. The unconsciously-based covenant appears on the surface to be nothing more than a desire for security and organizational stability. Yet, the covenant is much more than this and is often emotionally-charged. An effective coaching engagement often can lead to a surfacing of this covenant and to the more realistic addressing of the client’s expectations regarding what he should be doing in the organization and what the organization in turn provides him as a dedicated and hard-working member. This exploration of the covenant is difficult and it often produces considerable anxiety. We know that in an anxiety-producing situation, a container for the anxiety is critical. Without a container, the anxiety can escalate and lead to lack of concentration and the type of fight/flight/freeze responses I noted above. In the field of psychotherapy, this container is found in the time-limits of the therapeutic session (the “fifty minute hour”), the nature of the relationship between therapist and client during the therapy session, and restrictions regarding the relationship between therapist and client outside the therapy room. The container is just as important for a Late Majority client as they address issues of security and covenant. The container provides the support that balances against the challenge and anxiety of the coaching session.

What is the nature of this container and support in a coaching session? I would suggest five possible strategies (though many more are possible). First, the coach can provide an agenda or at least a set of desired outcomes for the session. Second, the coach might suggest some “homework” that the client does between sessions involving reflection on issues being faced by the client in his work setting. This homework can help the client prepare for the challenges being faced during the upcoming coaching session. Third, the coach can provide an appreciative perspective—noting when the client is being effective in changing his own expectations behavior or mind-set (the coach is “catching her client doing it right”). Fourth, the coach can offer legitimate encouragement, indicating how other clients have successfully brought about a change in their expectations, behavior or mindset. Without diminishing the unique challenges being faced by her client, the coach of a Late Majority client can be supportive by indicating to her client that “he is not alone”. There is evidence that other people have faced similar challenges in a successful manner, thus turning the “band wagon” effect into a positive for the coaching client. Finally, the coach can be supportive by providing considerable structure—much as the psychotherapist does. This means setting up regularly scheduled and time-limited coaching sessions, holding the sessions in a safe, neutral setting, insuring that the sessions are not disrupted by other people, and providing a follow-up summary for the client regarding what took place in each coaching session.

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  1. Gary B Cohen

    November 24, 2011 at 12:02 am

    William great insight I reposted your article on Board of School Superintendents website and CO2 Partners. I found it interesting how you connected the way each stage of diffusion of innovation shows up differently for a coach. I certainly have found this to be true just never connected with innovators model. Great stuff. Thank you for sharing.


  2. Anonymous

    November 30, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Gary: Thank you for your appreciative comments. I hope your School Superintendent colleagues find this to be of value. Obviously, the dynamics associated with the diffusion of educational innovations in our school systems are critical and coaching can be of great value to these hardworking superintendents. Bill Bergquist


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