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

The Diffusion of Innovation: A Coaching Framework

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We often find burghers entering the scene when there is a stable source of funding. This often is a chicken-and-egg phenomenon. There is greater funding because more people and organizations are involved, and more organizational leaders (Late Majority) are involved because there is greater funding. Given the financial instability found in many of our contemporary institutions, we may find a retreat in the funding of coaching program and a subsequent retreat in the number of leaders willing to take a risk. The “burgher” leaders may return to safer financial ground (the chartered town). Despite these potential financial challenges (coaching services being offered during a time of retrenchment), this is a time when the Late Majority might become a focus of attention for those working in the field of professional coaching (with all of the opportunities and challenges associated with engaging this constituency).

We can identify a set of marketing principles that hold the potential of drawing in members of the Late Majority: surveys, focus groups, and advisory committees. In each of these instances, it is not so important that one make use of the data gathered from these initiatives; rather these research tools are engaged as marketing tools. Participants in the survey, focus group or advisory committee get the sense that they are not alone—other people are involved. Furthermore, since they are being asked for their opinion, this activity must be legitimate and main stream: “if it was not legitimate then they wouldn’t be among those being asked.” Psychologists have counseled us for many years that cognitive dissonance is created if people participate in something that they don’t value. Once they agree to participate, these men and women must support (at least minimally) the activity in order to restore cognitive equilibrium. An effective professional coaching program should target several populations, with different communication strategies being used for each of them. One of these populations can be the Late Majority and cognitive dissonance-based marketing can be an effective leverage point for this constituency. At a more fundamental level, an innovative practice (such as coaching) will become acceptable if it is associated with other traditions, values and activities that are already widely-accepted and respected by the Late Majority. A critical role was being played at an early stage in the life of professional coaching by women and men who linked this innovation to established products and services (Brock, 2009). The field should now take advantage of these early initiatives.

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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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