Adoption: The hardest part about innovation

Don’t worry about people stealing an idea. If it’s original, you will have to ram it down their throats. – Howard Aiken

If there’s one things that rarely gets talked about innovation, it’s that you will have to work hard to get people to adopt your ideas. Two weeks ago I was talking to a few of the participants of Startup Weekend Tijuana. Among other things, we talked about the hard part about innovation.

Mainly I told them about my own experience, and how coming up with ideas isn’t a problem. The key, is influencing people to adopt your ideas. And as far as I’m concerned, this is where the rubber meets the road

People and organizations rarely understand, just like I did a few years back, that ideas by themselves are worthless. Just because your ideas sounds cool, and everyone tells you the same, it doesn’t mean it will be adopted. You have to nudge people to adopt your ideas.

There just isn’t any way around it.

Being the guy or company that changes the game is really being the one who gets people to change the behavior.

Case in point: Facebook.

A few days ago, Facebook decided to quietly change people’s email address to instead of their preferred address. This was the latest in a long line of changes at the social networking site made without giving proper notice.

Facebook has been making changes, which they know users will not like, for a long time. What Facebook realizes, beyond the obvious mousetrap strategy they are playing, is that you will literally have to do things that will piss people off to make them adopt your ideas.

And most people will. That is just human nature.

Others will leave, but most will stay for awhile until they get fed up. That’s just the way it is because people don’t like change in their lives. They don’t want to be changing their habits and routines every other week!

Is Facebook, as a social network, original? No. Is importing your offline activities into a social network original? Yes. Will their approach to nudging us to adopt their ideas work? Maybe. Are they trying? Yes.

As Tim Kastelle wrote a few weeks ago, innovation requires a change in behaviour.

Are you ready?

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