How To Diffuse Ideas And Influence People

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.

Diffusing Ideas.

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.

Influencing People.

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.

By randy

Encouraging people to find out who they are so they can live their lives fully.

18 replies on “How To Diffuse Ideas And Influence People”

Yes. You are. And I also noticed that the commonality between these two concepts (diffusion and influence) is “innovating”–you started with innovation, and ended with innovators.

And here’s my question (of course I would have one): When it comes to early adopting, who do we keep our eyes on? Or, better asked: who are YOU keeping your eyes on–what’s your A-list of innovators?

@Randy, “Tomorrow’s Newspaper” is already apping for the iPad, but seemed to have neglected an app for the iPhone. #irony ;) I guess I’ll have to read via the dinosaur “feed reader”…

I’m looking forward to your A-list!

It’s always great to see some I see lived out daily put into a format readers can learn from. I love that graph!!! Isn’t technology great that we can influence, diffuse ideas and collaborate. By the way… I’m sending this from a famous highway headed to the amazon called The Avenue of Volcanos. Just passed the highest active volcano in the world while reading this great post:)

Hi Randy,

I understand the diffusing section, but I’m not sure I understand the influencing section as well. It’s unclear to me what the levels of influence are.

Overall, what I understand of this seems to make logical sense. But one thing sticks a bit: Perhaps this is a question; perhaps it is pushback; perhaps I just don’t like what I think is the answer and I’m hoping you have a better one.

I’m a strong introvert (INTJ if you are familiar with Myers Briggs). I’m not shy or antisocial, but my mind is so full of ideas and is so busy making connections and innovating with those concepts that I really don’t have a lot of room in my life for a lot of relationships. I have few close relationships that are deep and meaningful so that I can have as much alone time as possible.

For an innovative thinker who wants to diffuse ideas and influence influencers how does this work for me as an introvert or does it exclude me?

@Susan Wilkinson, Susan, many of the greatest influencers I know are introverts. They simoly make it a point to cultivate deep and meaningful relationships with other influencers. That is the key!

Does that answer your question fully?

I like this concept, thanks for explaining it, even with a bell shaped curve diagram! Very creative and at times, ambiguous which causes enough ambivalence to sort out more details in my mind.
It makes sense and now I need to absorb it into my ministry of influence. You got me thinking …!

Yes, actually, it does answer. It’s not the answer I was prepared to challenge, but it is the only workable strategy that I’ve come up with for myself–which is confirming, thanks.

I have to say though, it’s not so easy to work that program. I’m clear on my strategy in theory, but lack a clear plan. Getting my website up and running will probably help work out that part of it. At least I hope so.

@Randy, Very true! I’m very much looking forward to seeing who is interested in the ideas I have. Of course, there is always the possibility that I’ll throw a party and no one will show up, like happened on my 16th birthday. That would be tragic.

But nah…that won’t happen. I’m all grown up now and surely I say better things now then I did then, right? Although I do still mostly talk to myself on Twitter… hmmm. Patience, is in order, I’m sure. :)

This was as good as a therapy session. ha!

@Susan Wilkinson, This is one of the things I love about Randy and his blog. Posts and comments like these introduce others that we might not have ever known before. Your questions and observations resonated with me as well. Now I’m off to read your blog and would love to chat on twitter too. (Like you I’m an INTJ as well.)

@Michelle, Hi Michelle! Wow, an INTJ female. We’re a rare bunch so it truly is nice to meet you.

Don’t read my blog too closely, it’s really become more of a placeholder for my editing than a real blog. My actual blog wasn’t even at that site… I’m in transition. My real love in personal development for Christians–something I’ve yet to find online (if you know of any blogs that are specific to that, let me know, please. I’m on the hunt!).

Heading to twitter now too. :) Thanks for saying hi. Thanks for the intro, Randy!

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