Every week as I share the three goals (Refresh. Encourage. Diffuse.) of my non-profit organization Creative Community, Inc which encompasses the re:create Gathering of Creatives and Kalein, I’m inevitably asked to explain the meaning of diffuse.
“Diffusion is the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system,” so says Everett Rogers in his seminal work Diffusions of Innovations.
The following is my summary of Mr. Roger’s fascinating and compelling research.
Diffusion is a unique type of communication, in that the messages are concerned with new ideas. The newness of the idea in the message content gives diffusion its special character. The newness also means that some degree of uncertainty is involved in diffusion.
When new ideas are invented, diffused, and are adopted and rejected, leading to certain consequences, social change occurs. We are witnessing this real-time in the social upheavals of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and other oppressed countries.
There are four main elements in the diffusion of ideas.
1. The Innovation. The characteristics of an innovation, as perceived by the members of a social system, determine its rate of adoption. Five attributes of innovation are: (1) relative advantage (2) compatibility (3) complexity (4) trialability (5) observability.
2. Communication Channels. This is the means by which messages get from one individual to another. Twitter, Facebook and Google have revolutionized this element. Unfortunately, most entrepreneurs and businesses do not take advantage of these amazing technological tools of communication.
3. Time. The mental process through which an individual passes from first knowledge of an innovation to forming an attitude about the innovation, to a decision to adopt or reject, to implementation of the new idea, and to confirmation of this decision takes time. Rogers conceptualizes five steps in this process: (1) knowledge (2) persuasion (3) decision (4) implementation (5) confirmation. Information gathered during this process of time helps reduce uncertainty about an innovation’s consequences. Again, social networking has greatly shortened the amount of time needed to process the steps of diffusion.
4. A Social System. A tribe that is engaged in joint problem-solving to accomplish a common goal. Important: The social and communications structure of a tribe facilitates or impedes the diffusion of innovations in that system.
I have said for years, that my life mantra is to influence influencers. But there is more to it.
The key is to influence innovative influencers.
Innovativeness is the degree to which an individual is relatively earlier in adopting new ideas than other members of a social system.
There are five adopter types based on their innovativeness: (1) innovators (2) early adopters (3) early majority (4) late majority (5) laggards.
There are also three levels of influence.
(1) Opinion leadership is the degree to which an individual is able to influence informally other individual’s attitudes or overt behavior in a desired way with relative frequency.
(2) A change agent is an individual who attempts to influence client’s innovation-decisions in a direction that is deemed desirable by a change agency.
(3) An aide is a less than fully professional change agent who intensively contacts clients to influence their innovation-decisions.
Generally, the fastest rate adoption of an innovation results from influencing the innovative influencers decisions.
As Don Henley of the band Eagles fame once stated during an interview when asked how it feels to be so famous and have his songs permeate society, he replied, “It’s not the fame, it’s the ripple effect I’m hoping for.”
I hope explains what I mean when I say one of the three main goals of Creative Community, Inc is that of diffusing ideas.
Does this make sense?
I value your thoughts, pushback and comments.