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

The Diffusion of Innovation: A Coaching Framework

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Late Majority/Burghers

In Europe the term “burgher” was used to identify a person who resided in a formally chartered town. I will use this European term because I think it conveys the essence of Rogers’ Late Majority. These people only embrace an innovative idea after it has been fully certified and accepted as a legitimate idea or operation. In Western America, these are the folks who only move in when the town is “well-established”—with the requisite schools, paved roads, general store and church. Gladwell uses the term “tipping point” when describing this broad-based acceptance of an idea that has been legitimized. The term “band-wagon” is also appropriate in that the acceptance of a product or service by the Late Majority often means a substantial increase in the number of people using this product or service.

This is the diffusion population most likely to use coaching for the wrong reasons. These men and women are most likely to either misuse coaching or find the coaching experience to be disappointing. The Late Majority seek out coaching for one of three reasons: (1) it is the “thing to do” (“everyone else has a coach so I guess I should get one too”), (2) it is the way to “look good” (“maybe it will enable me to get a promotion or at least avoid a negative performance review”) (“it makes me look cooperative, seeking to improve myself, ready to change”), or (3) because it is an “exciting” fad that could “really transform me” (an unrealistic expectation often built on the over-promising of those promoting coaching services). The Late Majority are often “immature” about innovation and are vulnerable to sales pitches that don’t really represent the real world.

While the “band-wagon” phenomenon can initially be very gratifying to someone who has been laboring for many years to get a new product or service accepted, it can also create major problems—because this new product or service is typically not fully understood by the Late Majority and is often misused. This can lead to “casualties.” For instance, jogging may become an “in-thing”; however, Late Majority joggers are likely to injure themselves because they do not properly prepare for this new form of exercise. The band wagon can also lead to failure and anger: “why doesn’t this darn thing work”. Alternatively, uncritical Late Majority acceptance of a new product or service can lead to neglect or inefficiency. The newly-purchased desk-top computer, for instance, may either sit on the desk unused or be used only as a glorified typewriter or expensive play station.

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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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