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

The Diffusion of Innovation: A Coaching Framework

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At the heart of any diffusion process is the issue of credibility. From the perspective of a potential coaching client the two fundamental diffusion questions are: Why should I want to engage the services of a coach? How can a coach help me assess the credibility of new ideas that are being thrown at me every day?  At the heart of the matter for both the coach and potential client is the question: What are the ingredients that make an innovation “respectable”? How did professional coaching become respectable—or is it still at the fringe of organizational life? What about the credibility of other ideas that are being offered to or generated by coaching clients? An organizational coach can be of great assistance in helping her client sort out the credibility of potential innovations in her organization. Is there a solid base of evidence to support the credibility of this innovative idea or practice? This doesn’t necessarily mean that the idea or practice is already proven to be successful—there certainly is great value in the encouragement of exploratory and pioneering work. The idea or practice, however, should be linked to the information already existing in the organization about need, resources and opportunities. It should also be aligned with the core intentions (mission, vision, values, and purposes) of the organization.

But what about the even more fundamental credibility issue: is coaching itself a credible idea and practice? We must often look to the establishment of a profession if we are specifically considering the credibility and long-term acceptance of a new type of human service initiative—such as coaching. During the 1970s, Bledstein proposed that American society is deeply enmeshed in a culture of professionalism. By extension, other societies are also moving toward a culture in which professional credentials are replacing social-economic class structures as the defining criterion for social stratification (Bledstein, 1976). This social dynamic would seem to be particularly poignant with regard to a newly-emerging field like professional coaching. The concepts and strategies associated with the diffusion of innovation are directly relevant to those seeking to establish professional coaching as a viable and enduring human service enterprise and are of great value as guidelines regarding the expectations and needs of those who are seeking to make use of the distinctive services being offered by a professional coach.

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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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