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

The Diffusion of Innovation: A Coaching Framework

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What does all of this mean in terms of coaching the Late Majority? First, it means that the coach must spend quite a bit of time at the start of the coaching engagement exploring with her client the reasons for wanting to be coached. The coach must be in a place to either cancel the engagement or help her client discover a legitimate and potentially beneficial reason for working with a coach. Even if the coaching engagement is supported by the Late Majority client, the coach often must help her client differentiate between fads and foundations (viable ideas) in his organization. How does one differentiate between ideas that are sound (based on a solid base of valid and useful information) and those that are based on nothing more than good marketing and superficial acceptance by many people in the organization? How does one determine that a new idea is aligned with the mission, vision, values and purposes of the organization? When is a new idea being accepted not because it is based on a solid (and organizationally-aligned) foundation, but because it is convenient, low-cost, exciting, or not very complicated? A coach can provide invaluable service in helping her client address these difficult issues and discern which ideas are and which are not viable.

Second, the security anchor identified by Schein is even heavier for the Late Majority client than it was for the Early Majority client. The client often has a very primitive sense of what he expects from his organization in terms of job stability, public recognition and rewards. Schein writes about the psychological contract that exists in the head and heart of members of organizations. This contract consists of the expectations (conscious and unconscious) that the member has of what he will receive from the organization in exchange for the work he does and attitude he exhibits on behalf of the organization’s welfare. While I agree with Schein’s observation that these expectations exist in virtually all organizations, I propose that it is not a psychological contract, but rather a covenant that is not easily renegotiated. Furthermore, as a covenant that is often unconsciously held, it is not revoked by the organization and is considered a betrayal if not honored by leaders of the organization. Anger, harassment and even violence in an organization can often be attributed to this sense of betrayal. The client who comes from the Late Majority inevitably has embraced a covenant that is unconscious, non-negotiable and considered external to the Late Majority client’s own psyche. It is important to differentiate between an internal and external locus of control when working with men and women in the Late Majority. These coaching clients tend to view the world from the perspective of an external locus of control. They believe that most of the important things happening in their organization (and in their life) are outside their control. These men and women are inclined to feel helpless and hopeless when considering their own role in the organization where they work. They typically don’t have the anger that we will witness when considering the mind set and affect of the last diffusion group (the Laggards)—they are more likely to experience low-grade depression.

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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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