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

The Diffusion of Innovation: A Coaching Framework

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What about providing coaching services to a Laggard? We first have to ask why a Laggard would ever seek out assistance from an organizational coach. I suggest three reasons: (1) this provides a setting in which the Laggard can “vent” their frustrations (the coach as witness), (2) this provides a setting in which the Laggard can tell “their side of the story” having often turned off/bored all of their colleagues inside the organization (the coach as patient listener) or (3) they are required to get a coach (and therefore are determined to prove that coaching doesn’t work).

As coaches to Laggards we can engage one of three strategies to confront the difficult (but sometimes very gratifying) challenges inherent in work with these men and women. First, one can be appreciative—helping to identify (or reinforce) the contributions made by this client in the past (given that the Laggard was often an innovator in his former life). Second, one can engage in reframing of the information, intentions and ideas presented by the Laggard. Information can be reframed through the reinterpretation of the current issues facing the organization (and comparing these issues/conditions to those in the past when the Laggard was an active innovator) “What can we learn from the past?” Reframing of intentions occurs when a coach encourages her Laggard client to identify and clarify the broad goals, vision and values of the organization on which the Laggard and the organization’s leaders can agree. Finally, the reframing of ideas occurs when a coach can provide an appreciative perspective regarding the insights and actions the Laggard is offering in his organization. “Which of the ideas from the past are still relevant?”

Third, the coach can ask the tough questions: (1) “Why are you still working in this setting?” (2) “Where might you be more fully appreciated?” (3) “How do you help to create conditions in which your background, talents, skills, knowledge are more fully aligned with what an organization needs and appreciates?” Without becoming a therapist, the coach can help the Laggard grieve for lost opportunities, lost battles, and lost recognition and appreciation. The coach can also help to empower the Laggard—help her client (as in the case of the Late Majority client) to move away from a sense of helplessness to one of hopefulness. This is a crucial movement from an external local of control (I am a victim and can do nothing about it other than grin-and-bear it) to an internal local of control (I can do something about this and don’t need to stay in the current, destructive circumstance).

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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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